Word from the author : No, despite what Raiu says, it's not the beginning of the Apocalypse. I just so happen to be in an updating mood, and my inspiration for this fic is quite good so far. Please feel free to take advantage of it.

Raiu : Also feel free to shut her up anytime. I'd be eternally grateful.

Hey, Raiu ?

Raiu : What ?

Feel free to get lost ; I'd be eternally grateful.

Raiu : And you feel free to try and make me !

You're on !

Akari : Those two are lost causes... (turns to readers) Enjoy the chapter minna !


.: The Sprite and the Warrior King :.

by cherry fantasy


Book one : Betrothed


Third chapter : Change of plans

He looked up sharply when someone else entered the weapons' room, but the newcomer merely leaned against the doorframe and said :

"So, for how long exactly do you plan on spending your days between here and the training den ?"

He went back to polishing his sword, not bothering to answer. The other pursued calmly :

"Can we at least expect you to show up at your own coronation… or at your wedding, for that matter ?"

His expression darkened considerably at the mention of his wedding. He really didn't want to talk about it. In fact, he didn't want to talk, period.

He knew that wouldn't stop his interlocutor, though.

"Be reasonable, Heero." said interlocutor added. "Your father is dead. You're the heir, that you like it or not. You're about to become king. I'm sorry to say this, but you don't have time to grieve… not yet, at least. You have duties you must attend to."

"I know, Wufei…" Heero finally said with a sigh.

"Well, if you know, get over here and follow me to the Council room. I think you've kept the royal counsellors waiting long enough."

Heero snorted, but obeyed nonetheless. He knew his friend was right.

He sheathed his sword and exited the room, following Wufei down the large hallway.

"I'm sure all will go well." Wufei was muttering as if talking to himself. "Let's see… The coronation takes place tomorrow… I'm pretty certain everything is ready… I don't think I forgot anything… After that you'll be safely seated on Eleah's throne, and no one will be able to do anything against it. Then all we'll have to worry about is your wedding… Oh and about that, isn't your future consort supposed to arrive sometime this week ?"

The last question came up suddenly, with Wufei glancing over his shoulder to look at Heero. This one glared fiery daggers at him and stayed mute.

Exasperated, Wufei stopped and turned around, giving Heero a glare of his own.

"Heero, we've talked about this…" he started with a frustrated tone.

"Leave it, Wufei." Heero interrupted him curtly. "I know. I'll do it. I'll marry him."

"Good." Wufei stated coolly, whirling around and resuming his march.

Heero followed resentfully.

"I don't know what you're so angry about." Wufei suddenly said without turning around. "This marriage will greatly benefit our kingdom, both economically and politically. I'm sure you realize that much. Granted, you weren't the one supposed to marry, but… things like that happen, Heero. That's just how it is. Besides, it could be worse, you know ? You could be forced to marry some old fart, ugly and half senile. Or some spoiled princess with the IQ of a picket fence. Your spouse-to-be is none of those. In fact, I've heard tales about his beauty and intelligence everywhere I went."

"I don't care." was the icy reply.

"No, I don't suppose you do." Wufei commented, rolling his eyes. "My point is still valid though : it could be worse, but it's not. Be thankful."

Only silence answered him.

Wufei repressed a sigh. He knew his friend had issues. Really, he understood that, but… Honestly, he pitied the poor soul who would soon marry Heero Yuy.

He hoped that this Duo Maxwell had a strong personality. He would need it badly.

o0o

Walking down the richly decorated hallway, Quatre came to a halt when he saw Hilde exit Duo's room and close the door softly behind her.

The young maid turned around and started when she saw him.

"Oh, Quatre ! You startled me."

"I'm sorry Hilde." Quatre said with a smile, then a worried frown replaced it as he asked : "Is he alright ?"

"Who knows ?" Hilde answered with a sigh. "He's acting normal enough… but you can never be sure with him."

Quatre nodded.

"Can I see him ?" he inquired.

"Of course !" Hilde exclaimed. "You don't even need to ask."

Quatre smiled.

"Well, as for me, I'm going to bed." Hilde pursued. "I'm exhausted. I'll see you tomorrow, Quatre. Please make sure Duo is really okay."

"I will, don't worry. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

Hilde bowed respectfully and left. Quatre walked to the door, took a deep breath and entered the room.

He found Duo sitting on his bed, in the process of re-braiding his hair. The boy looked up when he heard him enter.

"Hey Quatre !" he greeted. "So, is the room we offered you to your liking ?"

"Of course." the Elf answered. "I've always thought that your father's palace was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen, and that includes the bedrooms. You know that, Duo."

"Yes, but I like to hear you say it !" the Sprite replied with a playful wink. "I see you also took some time to change." he added.

Quatre looked down at himself ; he was now only wearing his boots, a pair of white fitting pants and a simple white shirt with a V collar. The ornate tunic was gone, as was his silver coronet and all his other accessories. Even his sword had been left in his room.

The Elf looked back at Duo and answered with a smile :

"Yes, I did. Formal outfits are pretty, but not very comfortable."

Duo smiled back. Quatre walked to the bed and sat down, staring intensely at his friend.

"Are you alright ?" he asked after a moment.

"Can't you tell ?" Duo said with a tiny grin on his lips.

"Well, I try not to use my space-heart on others without their permission. I don't always remember it though, and it's kind of hard to control."

"I see." Duo replied with a nod of understanding. "Then… I'm alright, I guess. I mean, I'm still confused and I don't think what you told me has completely sunk in yet, but… other than that I'm doing pretty well."

Duo ended his sentence with a chuckle, looking a lot more cheerful than he did before. He tied the end of his braid and flipped it over his shoulder.

Quatre was reassured ; he could feel with his space-heart that Duo was being sincere. Not that Duo ever lied, but well… It never hurt to check, right ?

They were silent for a while. It was obvious to Quatre that Duo wanted to ask him something (and he was pretty sure he knew what), so the blond prince stayed mute and waited for his friend to speak first. He didn't have to wait long.

"So…" the braided Sprite started. "King Odin is dead, huh ?"

"Yes."

"And I suppose that father has been told of this too, by now."

"You suppose well. I sent Rashid to tell him the news as soon as we got here."

"Really ? Poor dad… He must be climbing the curtains as we speak. I hope that Rashid has a lot of tact… and patience."

"Don't worry, he does." Quatre assured him. "After all, he deals with me on a daily basis."

That one got a laugh out of Duo. Then silence fell again… until Duo spoke up :

"Heh… It's so strange… The man I was about to marry is dead, and I can't even feel sad about it. Not because I don't want to, but… I knew so little about him, and the things I did know were so superficial. I never really knew him personally… and because of that, even though I'm trying, I can't feel anything but a little regret about his death. Does that… make me a bad person, Quatre ?"

"No, Duo." the Elf answered gently. "As you said, you didn't know him. That you even feel this 'little regret' is already a lot. Although, I would expect nothing less coming from you."

Duo smiled modestly. There was another pause, then :

"So now I have to marry this Heero Yuy ?"

"Yes. The contract between Lin and Eleah specified that if something was to happen to Odin before the wedding, you were to marry his heir instead. That heir is Heero."

"Oh… Well, it would make sense for them to take that kind of precaution, I guess. Just to be on the safe side and everything, you know ?"

"Absolutely." Quatre agreed with a smile.

Apparently, he shouldn't have underestimated Duo. It seemed he was handling the situation quite well, after all.

'You were right, Rashid. He is stronger than he lets us see.' Quatre thought.

"Quatre ?" his friend suddenly asked. "How come Heero doesn't bear the same family name as his father ?"

"Heero is a bastard child, Duo. He bears his mother's name. Naomi Yuy was a maid in Odin's castle several years ago. They had an affair going on… and Naomi soon became pregnant. Rumor has it that Odin was planning to marry her. But she fell ill, and by the time she gave birth to Heero, she was too weak to survive labor. So, as a last homage to her, Odin made Heero his heir. Father and son were never very close, but Odin never revoked his decision."

Quatre stopped, then added as an afterthought :

"Of course, this all happened before yours and Odin's betrothal."

"Of course…" Duo repeated absently, lost in thought.

Then something like recognition flashed in his violet eyes.

"Wait a minute, Quatre…" he said. "Isn't Heero Yuy the one they call the Cursed General ?"

"…Yes." Quatre answered after a slight hesitation.

"I knew I'd heard that name before !" Duo exclaimed, slapping his forehead. "Heero Yuy, General of Eleah's Great Army. The undefeated Fay warrior with a heart of stone. The Cursed General… How in the world did I manage to forget something like that ?"

"Does it bother you ?" the Elf prince asked him, his expression serious.

Duo seemed to ponder on it for a second… In the end, he just shook his head and said with a small grin :

"Not really… Although, it does seem like I'll have my work cut out for me. Married to the Cursed General… Hmm. This ought to be difficult."

"Actually Duo," Quatre said with an amused smile, "I'm not sure who will have more work : you with him… or him with you."

"Hey, what is that supposed to mean ?!" Duo exclaimed, offended.

Quatre just laughed, took a pillow and threw it right at his face.

::pouf::

"Why you !" the violet-eyed Sprite sputtered, grabbing a pillow of his own.

Quatre yelped, Duo laughed, and the pillow fight started.


A/N : So in this chap we saw Heero and Wufei too. Don't fret, Trowa will make an appearance very soon, as will some others. Chapter four will be up soon, but you'll have to wait a bit longer for that one, 'cause I'm not done writing it yet.

Please review, I feed on reviews !