How To Love A Prince

by Jianne


Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction (see website). Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's (rather twisted) imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be constructed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Clamp owns the original Card Captor Sakura characters and everything else is owned by the author, unless stated otherwise.


Dedication

To Mocchan, the love of my life. And to Karuho Shiina-sama. I've found another mangaka to stalk. Tee-hee.


Vocabulary

Kotaishi – Crown Prince

Kotaishihi – Crown Princess

Konbanwa, minna-san. – Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Gomen nasai. – My apologies.

Nani sore? – What's that?

Hontou ni? – Really?

Dozo – Go ahead.

Arigato gozaimasu. – Thank you very much.

Hai. – Yes.

Sou ne. – That's right.

Nani? – What?

Oneesan – Older sister

Omoshiroi. – Interesting.

Sumimasen? – Excuse me?


Juuust Before You Read

I translate Japanese words, phrases and sentences as they are used in the dialogues. Japanese words are romanized loosely, so disregard that part from earlier chapters where I said I won't be adding –u to words that are usually anglicized with one. So…yeah. Itadakimasu!


6Sho – One Down, Eleven More to Go

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. The post-wedding conference for the official statements of His Highness Syaoran-kotaishi and Her Highness Sakura-kotaishihi will now commence. Without further ado, let us now hear from them."

"Konbanwa, minna-san. Foremost, we express our deepest gratitude in supporting our marriage. The belated pronouncements of the engagement have been unfortunate, but as everyone knows, these past three years have been so demanding…"

"Yue-sama, Mihara Chiharu reporting."

"Ah. Sorry, I had to attend to something. How's everything here?"

"So far so good, Yue-sama. They have read through the script several times and I am confident that by the temple wedding ceremony tomorrow, the entire thing will be reduced to a memorable anecdote at best."

"Excellent. And as for Kotaishihi-sama's outburst?"

"Well, we have determined to work from it through the romance angle and divert from it as far as possible."

"Divertion? That's even worse than denial, did you know, Mihara-san? When you deny something, you at least give out answers directly. But when you divert, not only is it an insult to their intelligence, but in this situation, it is also an insult to their eyesight. The entire world saw the slap, for goodness' sake."

"B-but we have read through the questions they will be asking, and the mediapersons certainly know it's prohibited—"

"…however, I don't say these as excuses. It is but an explanation that our time together through courtship has been very constrained and infrequent. But because it is real and it is precious, we have been able to come through."

"Then what might be the reason behind Her Highness' actions at the ceremony from earlier today, Kotaishi-sama?"

"You were saying, Mihara-san?"

"Gomen nasai, Yue-sama. I'll take care of it. Agent Mazuhiro, please escort Jinkama Reiko-san from—"

"No, wait. I think Kotaishi-sama is about to say something."

"Good question. I was actually wondering if somebody was going to have the courage to ask."

"E-eh?"

"It's actually an interesting story, although telling it might disclose a few private details between us. But Kotaishihi-san and I have decided to do so, for clarification's sake."

"Wait wait wait. This is not on the script! It's not on the—"

"Relax, Mihara-san. It's the Prince, after all."

"I have explained earlier that the time we had together was very rare, and so, because we could only see each other roughly once a month, twice if a meeting abroad has been cancelled, there also wasn't time to be…intimate. Or, to put it directly, the first kiss that we had was our wedding's."

"Ehh?" "Nani sore?" "Hontou ni?"

"As expected. Our Prince never disappoints."

"If I may, Kotaishi-sama?"

"Ah, hai, Kotaishihi-san. Dozo."

"Arigato gozaimasu. Um, anyway, so before the wedding, we had an agreement that the k-kiss would be a quick, simple one, because not only would it be our first together, but believe it or not, it would also be my first kiss. Though as you have witnessed, it was anything but quick, nor was it simple, really. And so, I was very embarrassed that my first instinct was to—er, push him away."

"But Sakura, you can't really blame me for everything. No man could have resisted doing such a thing with a bride as beautiful as you. Am I right, gentlemen?"

"Hai! Hai!"

"I don't believe it, Yue-sama. We've pulled through."

"And unscathed at that."

-----

Imperial Carriage, Shuto Expressway

-----

"Okay. So what do we do now? Wave like beauty queens?"

Thinking that humor could somehow alleviate the cloud of tension that only kept on getting heavier and heavier ever since the temple wedding ceremony, Sakura looked to her right expectantly. The man beside her, however, seemed resolute in sculpting his perpetually stoic image, so she was replied to with but a slight inclination of his head. "Still not ready to joke around, huh?" It was of course a rhetorical question, and a lame one at that, but when she thought about it, what did she expect, really? The Crown Prince was polite with her at best, and at worst… well, she was still weighing if his superior, condescending manner he always seemed to show around her was the worst possible behavior he could muster. With her, at least.

It was five minutes after the carriage started to move that Sakura realized it had been an affirmative nod; the prince himself started to raise his right hand in greeting to the citizens, a perfectly reserved smile pasted on his face.

Oh. "Seriously?" The tone of disbelief that was very much evident on Sakura's voice caused a pause from Syaoran and later a sardonic reply: "What—you think it's amusing?" He half-expected her to suppress her facial sentiments as he'd seen her do during the entire temple ceremony but she looked thoughtful and then determined.

"No, nothing like that. I'd merely reflected I could do something else that might not bury me deeper into the blatant arrogance that I have admittedly, although unintentionally, displayed recently," she replied expressionlessly. Then suddenly she giggled. "I still can't speak so formally with a straight face after all." When he didn't reply, she turned her face ahead and sighed. "In any case, I don't think waving is appropriate under the circumstances. Isn't it, Kotaishi-sama?"

Syaoran deliberated over it for a moment, and he found himself agreeing half-heartedly. "What are you going to do then?" His back was turned to her while he continued to make polite gestures to the public facing the right side of the carriage. When she didn't answer after several minutes, he finally swiveled to her, and watched his wife do the one thing he never thought a royal would do to mere commoners.

She was bowing. The regretful, deepest, 90 degree-bow. The one that someone only does to show utmost respect or to humbly ask for forgiveness. It was unheard of. And yet Sakura was doing it right then, repetitively even, once for every direction.

He couldn't believe it. He grabbed her arm as subtle as possible and whispered threateningly. "Is what you've already done still not enough of a disgrace to my family?" But she didn't reply, nor bothered even looking at him. She simply continued bowing, which caused Syaoran to free her arm and his eyes to narrow at her. Sakura's expression was earnest, and she really looked as if she believed she was doing the right thing.

Then he noticed that the large crowds had stopped stirring, and the cheering noises have died down. Everyone was in the same state of shock that he was in, fully knowing that what the princess was doing was unbelievably ridiculous.

He saw that several of the Imperial Household Agents have started to come towards them, their concerns of the Imperial Family's image evident on their faces. He sighed. Fine. Syaoran motioned for the carriage to stop. Then he straightened his spine, and for the first time outside the Palace, he, too, bowed.

----

NTV Studio Office, Tokyo

----

"Seriously, the Prince never fails to amaze me."

Rika looked up from her laptop and shook her head at Jinkama Reiko who was playing with her office chair. She was used to these bouts of coffee-enthused energy from the producer of her show. Tucking a portion of her short-cropped dark hair behind her ear, she replied. "Sou ne. I was especially stunned. Nobody expected that, least of all from him."

Jinkama nodded in agreement, although she didn't look as if she was surprised at all. "But this new Princess, she's definitely something, isn't she, Sasaki-san?" Her boss wheeled to her table at a very unsafe speed, but as usual, she remained unfazed by the eccentricity of Jinkama. "Did you see her expression when she was bowing earlier? Well, of course you did. You were there. But she's only seventeen, right?"

"Just turned last week. She sure has spirit, that girl." Rika idly commented, having resumed in writing her article for the station's website. She paused and smiled at the screen. "Familiar, isn't it, Jinkama-san?"

"Yeah, it's like having Satoshi-san back." With a hand on the corner of Rika's table and her feet tucked under her, Jinkama prepared to whirl herself around. "And we all know how we need someone like that in the Palace."

Rika plugged in her headphones when Jinkama started screaming for somebody to help her stop when she clearly didn't want to. She finished the last paragraph of her article and was about to email copies of it to her boss (who was still screaming beside her) and the show's copywriters when she came across a website from her alma mater's homepage. She scanned the logs, and a smile appeared on her face. After a few more clicks, she called out, "Guess what I found, Jinkama-san?"

"Naaaaniiii?"

Rika rolled her eyes and then stopped the chair from swiveling with one hand. "The online journal of an oneesan." She rotated her LCD monitor towards the puzzled face of her boss.

Quickly recovering from the dizziness, Jinkama quickly scanned the page, her eyes widening by the second.

Omoshiroi.

-----

Houmei Den, Kokyo

-----

"That new daughter of ours, she did it again."

Empress Yelan smiled at her husband's tone of resigned endearment and replied, "I think we have to be ready for more of these surprises. I feel a series of refreshing waves of youth crashing into the Palace."

"Minna-sama. please welcome, His Highness Syaoran and Her Highness Sakura!"

"And here comes the next one."

The Crown Couple, followed by an entourage of chamberlains and agents, walked through the huge doors of the audience room with contrasting expressions: the Prince with his usual aloof look and the Princess with a sheepish, nervous smile. Instinctively looking for an ally, Sakura scanned the audience and found Princess Tomoyo's slender figure among the other identical-looking princesses whom she has yet to meet with. Sakura's heart skipped a beat, not knowing what face to show. She was pretty sure the news of her once-more impertinence must have reached her sensei's ears already. But suddenly Princess Tomoyo gave her the approving, proud smile she always showed when she knew Sakura had done a good job. This made Sakura break out into a full beam, which the Princess quickly returned.

Sakura then saw another familiar face, the one heading the line of the female royal members at the far end. It was the Empress Dowager, and she was wearing a similar pleased, proud face, only that it had a hint of a challenging smirk, and it was directed to the man beside her.

Syaoran chose to resolutely ignore the unrelenting stares of different degrees from almost everyone from the audience. It was very difficult though; not one from the Imperial Family, Imperial Household Agency and Imperial Household Council was absent. And that smug expression of Kotaigo wasn't at all helping. Nor was it meant to. He sighed and glanced at Sakura to his back. But that girl is definitely the last person fit to become the princess, he thought as he caught her almost stumbling on the hem of her very expensive gown. She seemed okay back when I first met her. She was even smart enough to catch on during the press conference, but her behavior is utterly inexcusable. He counted from the top of his head the misadventures of the little princess: slapping him, not showing even an ounce of respect to him, overstepping her boundaries with him and, now this one really takes the cake, embarrassing him in front of everyone when she'd bowed because then he'd needed to bow!

That may have proved to be effective, he conceded as he saw Yue-san gave a small nod to Sakura when she passed by him. Nevertheless…

These heels are definitely homicidal, Sakura thought darkly, because they're mercilessly killing my feet. She almost let out a mirthless grin at her lame joke but was careful not to. Her stone of a husband certainly wouldn't appreciate it. Not that it would be the first time. She heaved a deep breath, desperately calming her nerves. This was futile though, since the second she remembered what had happened after the carriage incident earlier that day, the blood rushed to her head, making her anger even more difficult to control.

"I was under the impression that you were taught the Imperial traditions. Now, if whoever that half-wit of a teacher didn't get it through your skull, then know this: Imperial members never apologize. Much more bow as if you'd needed pardon. But congratulations. Not only have you insulted Imperial traditions, but more importantly, you have also insulted me! You have accomplished an unbelievable feat, and it's not even past your first official week. Imagine what you can achieve in a month!"

As if that weren't enough, he'd turned and walked off, not even giving her a chance to explain. For him to be even more important than tradition itself, that arrogant jerk! Sakura almost recoiled from the sudden surge of this new emotion. She hadn't experienced anything near anger in her entire life, but now, it felt like the term anger wasn't even enough. Fury is more like it, she decided.

Suddenly, Syaoran took longer, bigger steps, clearly in a hurry to get across the lengthy room where the Imperial Couple were. Sakura scurried after and glared at the back of his head, doing her best to maintain the strict three-step-behind rule from him. Almost as abruptly, he stopped, and it took half of her strength to not trip over her feet. Taking in a deep breath, she straightened her spine and meekly looked up at the standing Parents of the nation.

Easily the best-looking couple Sakura had ever had the pleasure of seeing, the Imperial Couple were both looking regal and elegant as always. They were standing tall on an elevated pedestal, with a small altar in front of them. Sakura noted that they were also dressed like English Royals, with their matching white western outfits and crowns on their heads.

As the Emperor's speech went on, she felt her shoulders relax a bit. The Emperor and the Empress strongly exuded familiarity, and Sakura couldn't help but wonder if all parents were this way when in the center of their family. Despite the presence of non-familial members in the room, the feel was still there, and it was strengthened by the warm smiles of the Imperial Couple. She recognized this atmosphere, and she felt a lump in her throat when she realized how vague the memory of her family was in her head.

"I understand why you had to keep it from me. It's okay. Yes, I'm fine, really."

She'd lied, and she was pretty sure Sayuri had known the truth anyway. Of course she wasn't fine, but saying that out loud would be just depressing. And it wasn't like she'd been blackmailed into doing this. Well, I might have been sort of blackmailed… But in the end, she was the one who got worked up into helping the Family, wasn't she?

"This is just like you, Sakura."

Touya had told her before he left for Los Angeles. She'd been in one of the dressing rooms in the cathedral, reflecting on what had happened during the wedding. Her brother had entered with a large smirk on his face, looking shamelessly proud of her sister's sudden if not uncharacteristic display of violence. In his typical brash manner, he'd given final reminders, hesitantly asked her again if she was sure she was fine and then finally hugged her goodbye. What made this the hardest was that had she expressed even the tiniest bit of regret, she knew Touya would've gladly taken her with him, and darn it, how she'd wanted to. But instead, Sakura had simply smiled, given him a wrapped box and wished him a safe trip.

It's not so bad. I mean, even if he said that, I really only have eleven more months to go, right? It was a pathetic shot at cheering herself up even inside Sakura's head. Try as she might, she just couldn't find the optimism in her. How could she, when she felt as if she was being drained of resolve just by being behind that egotistical prince? No, Sakura decided. I'm here ultimately because of my decision. I'm going to see this through, and I don't plan on doing so with my head bowed down.

-----

Rockefeller College, Princeton University, New Jersey

-----

The wedding is as abrupt as it seems, even to me, her sister.

Sayuri typed on her keyboard, a look of pure concentration on her face.

I never thought their relationship was that serious, and until recently, it wasn't even clear to me if they had a relationship or not. I, myself, have only met Prince Syaoran twice or thrice, and Touya only once. So just imagine my shock when Sakura told me about the proposal.

She paused and frowned at the last sentence, but resumed typing after a few seconds.

No, actually, the shock came after she told me she'd accepted the proposal. It was so out of the blue, but more than that, it was very, very weird. To those who know Sakura personally, you know what I'm talking about. She's not the type who keeps these types of things to herself, nor does she even have the ability to do so. She's very open and expressive, practically transparent to her friends, even more so to her family.

A lump formed in Sayuri's throat as she started another paragraph.

I guess I was hurt more than I let on, because I couldn't even muster the courage to attend the wedding. I know it was unforgivably selfish and cowardly of me, but I just couldn't. The engagement, the wedding preparations, everything happened so impossibly fast, and in the end I just…

Her hands didn't want to cooperate, but she forced a finger to finish it for her.

couldn't.

Sayuri let out a shaky breath as she uploaded the latest entry on her blogsite. There were so many holes in her plan, but she was going to have to make it work. She'd watched the news, and she knew Sakura slapping the prince was a result of what little rebellion left inside of her. Now she couldn't let her sister drift away from her any more than she already had.

Her eyes flickered to the gift Sakura sent her. She took the card and read it for what may have been the hundredth time.

Hey Sayu!

I was pretty bummed you couldn't come to the wedding, but it's okay. I know you have a good reason for not being able to go, so don't make yourself sick of guilt, you hear me? It wasn't that much anyway. Of course it was all grand and everything was expensive (I swear the jewelries were custom made to match the Mori gown), but I still think Ms. Harriet's was far more romantic. So you didn't really miss much, but I wish I could've seen you. It feels like it's been so long since we spent time together.

Anyway, I leave you this: my prized John Woo DVDs. I know you've never appreciated action movies as I do, but you can watch this whenever you think of me, and I promise I'd do my best to keep myself from gagging when I read your romance novels. Haha.

Also, I'm not sure if they told you, but I don't think I'll be able to contact you anytime soon. (Technology's apparently banned in the Palace, can you believe it?) But please know that I love you and I still think you're the best sister and I miss you so very much.

Love, Sakura.

Sayuri blinked back the tears from her eyes and stared at her laptop's screen with newfound determination.

It's now only a matter of time.

-----

Crown Prince Residence, Akasaka Estate, Tokyo

-----

Sakura felt light-headed. It was like she was having an out-of-body experience. Like something inside her burst and scattered when she accepted the arrangement, and now they're crawling back into her, slowly, painfully. She leaned against the wall, trying to balance herself. She was breaking into cold sweats, her hands were trembling and her view of the room was blurring. Her anxiety increased when she realized she was actually having a nervous breakdown.

Crap.

As she had observed in the past days, the feeling of surrealism never really faded when you're in this kind of situation. The rest of the ceremony and the banquet had finally been concluded. Although she'd been excited to meet the rest of the Imperial Family, Empress Yelan had noticed her tiredness and decided to put it off until the next day. Before she realized it, she and Syaoran were in the Akasaka Estate, a detached palace compound ten kilometers or so away from the Imperial Palace. She discovered it was where the official residences of the Crown Prince as well as the other family members' were. When she stepped into their palace, she was surprised to see that it was more or less of a western style interior. She politely offered her appreciation, which Syaoran tonelessly accepted.

Naturally, the Prince had been cold and distant during and after their ride to the estate. Not a word was exchanged between them, and Syaoran had simply bowed when they parted ways to their different rooms. Sakura couldn't help but feel a bit hurt because despite the artifice of their marriage, they were husband and wife after all.

Just legally. She slightly shook her head, forcing it out her mind. She'd requested Mihara to postpone the tour of the entire palace and show her the room where she'd be staying at. Only it wasn't really a room, more of like a condominium unit inside the palace. Even her exhaustion couldn't suppress her amazement as she realized she had a kitchen and a bedroom the size of her living room.

This amazement turned to frustration later when she'd taken a quick, warm shower in the equally humongous bathroom, and instead of feeling refreshed, her body seemed to recognize that it had used up every ounce of energy at the same time her brain decided to re-process the terrible reality.

Taking one step and two gulps of breath at a time, she was almost cursing the long distance to her bedroom. She was halfway to the lavishly covered bed when her knees gave out. What the heck. Finally giving in to fatigue, Sakura collapsed on the warmly carpeted floor, where she slept dreamlessly for the rest of the night.

-----

Imperial Household Agency Quarters, Crown Prince Residence, Akasaka Estate, Tokyo

-----

"Stop laughing."

Yamazaki Takashi paused for a couple of seconds to put an exaggeratedly mortified face on before he gave in to bouts of laughter again.

"That prank wasn't funny, you know. I really thought I was going to die. And by my hands, you will, if you don't stop laughing your head off." Chiharu glared at her friend from childhood. "Come to think of it, do laugh your head off, Yamazaki. That way I won't feel obligated to spend an hour of mourning for your death." She went through the exit door and sped up her steps, hoping to make him leave her alone.

Ah, sharp-tongued as ever. Following her, Yamazaki gazed at her retreating back admiringly. They had known each other from when they were little because both their fathers had served as Imperial Household Agents when they were still alive. He hadn't been planning on pursuing the same career, but when he'd learned that Chiharu decided to continue her father's profession, he'd signed up as well. The years of training as both bodyguards and tradition scholars were difficult as hell, but he'd never, not even for one moment, regretted it. Serving his country and the Imperial Family, preserving national treasures—every day was interesting. But if he was honest, what made every day fun was Chiharu, and the fact that she rises to his bait all the time. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you're afraid Yue-sama would be so disappointed he wouldn't remember your name anymore." He waited for Chiharu to knock on the door and enter the Crown Princess' residential room before calling out to her, "Oh, but wait, he already doesn't, does he?"

"But Yue-sama doesn't remember anyone's na—Takashi!"

Yamazaki was instantly alert at the sudden change of her tone and hurried into the room. He found Chiharu bending over the body of the Kotaishihi. "She's breathing, but it's a bit irregular. Pale, sweating and slightly shivering. She probably just fainted, but Yue-sama said—"

"No problem. I'll get him."

"Okay, thanks."

-----

Yuri Room, Crown Prince Residence, Akasaka Estate, Tokyo

-----

Sakura opened her eyes, then instantly closed them. The light was blinding. Funny, I always close the lights before I sleep…

Her right temple began to throb painfully. "Argh." she groaned, then she shifted to her side so that she could snuggle her head back into the pillow, hoping the pulse in her head would go away. It didn't. So she opened her eyes again, slower this time, and reached for the glass of water on her bedside table. It wasn't there.

This made the fog in her head clear a bit. I knew I placed one in here. I always do. She sat up carefully, her eyes straining to see where she'd placed her eyeglasses. Ah. There it is. She grabbed it and put it on in one motion. She blinked rapidly until her vision cleared, but a fresh wave of head ache came with it. "Coffee coffee coffee…" she massaged her forehead while trying to list down the things she'd be doing to distract herself from the pain. Change clothes, turn on the coffee maker, brush teeth, probably even make pancakes just in case Touya drops by again, what else…

She was halfway down in unbuttoning her pajamas when she noticed an unusual accessory on her left hand. Specifically on her fourth finger. She stretched out her hand and inspected this very unusual ring. Hey, what a very nice ring! She giggled to herself. With a diamond ring on her finger, she felt very grown-up, almost like someone else, as if she were an adult, as if she were a married woman…

"Crap! Crap! Cra—"

"Not quite a morning person, are you?"

Sakura turned around to find her husband sitting on a cream-colored chaise longue a few meters to the side of her bed watching her as if he were watching the National Geographic channel.

"What the heck are you doing in here?" she half-screamed. But Syaoran only made himself more comfortable on the settee and raised an eyebrow. Sakura was about to ask him again when she traced his eyes' direction to her—

"Get out! Get out!" Sakura clutched at her chest, desperately trying to rebutton her pajama shirt and stop her face from blushing. She heard him stand up and walk, but when she turned back to him, he was leaning on the doorframe, now giving her with a pitying expression.

What is it now? Sakura stood up and glared at him. "Look. It's too early in the morning. Can whatever you have to say to me wait for at least an hour?"

True to her expectations, Syaoran simply ignored her and wondered out loud. "Yue-san overdid himself this time. I cannot even begin to imagine how they let a very little girl like you marry. Now that must have taken a lot of manipulation." Syaoran sighed. "How old are you exactly, hmm? Fourteen? Fifteen, maybe?" He barely got the last word out when a slipper hit his forehead. "Ow!" He exclaimed, rubbing the sore part angrily. "What the hell was that?"

"That," Sakura seethed, "was my patience. Which I just threw out the door. And I would like you to do the same to your insufferable, egotistical self." She huffed and turned her back on him.

"S-sumimasen?"

Sakura swiveled back to him so fast, the entire bundle of her hair sprayed all over her face. She impatiently pushed them away and put on a false smile. "Oh, I'm sorry. I was under the impression that you understood Nihongo. Let me make it clear to you in plain English then. Get. Out. Or should I make you, instead?"

When he didn't budge (from shock or arrogance, Sakura didn't really care which), she steadily walked towards him and pushed him as hard as she could until he was out the door.

It was when the door was slammed on his face that Syaoran regained his abilities to close his mouth and blink again. What just hap— The door suddenly opened, with the same red-faced Sakura gripping the knob so hard, her knuckles were turning white. Almost as abruptly, she bit out, "And for the record? I'm seventeen, and I'm five feet and three inches, which just happens to be the average height for Japanese women, you idiot!" After giving him one last death glare for good measure, she slammed the door to his face again.

To which Syaoran could only ask out loud, "What the hell?"

Tsuzuku

Somebody asked me before, "how come you don't want to receive any reviews?" I went dot-eyed and went, "I don't?" I mean, seriously, name me an author who doesn't like getting reviews and let's crucify this author together. Of course I do want to receive reviews! In fact, I desperately like getting them (and the ?noway!-ness that usually comes with it). Not because I tell everybody not to leave reviews if they don't want to doesn't mean I don't want them to. (okay, that sounded even more confusing.)

Bottom line is, I just don't want you, my dear, tortured readers to feel pressured to review so that I'd update more or faster. (I'd like to believe they're smarter than that. Also, no great amount of reviews can or will make me update more or faster. Hmm. Well, maybe if I get an average of a hundred? I'd definitely be scared not to.) I understand that there are authors out there who require a number of reviews before updating, but I'm sorry (?) to say I'm not one of them. As I've mentioned I don't know how many times before, I write not because somebody reviews, not even because somebody reads my work, but simply for the fun of writing's sake itself. And for my insanity too, I think.

Oh crap. Have I been caught? Of course I have. Yes, that was actually my cunning (if I do say so myself) but truthful way to divert everyone from noticing that it has been ages (say it with me now: ages) since my last update. It's been so long that my fondness for parentheses has tripled since the fifth chapter. I know it's bad writing but (here it goes) I've been SO busy it isn't funny anymore. And it didn't help that it has been really difficult in acquiring the material for the imperial events; if you google it, I swear nothing worth reading comes up, and that is if you're lucky enough get a search result that actually matches. So I've had help from Ben Hill's Princess Masako: Prisoner of Chrysanthemum Throne, which, from what I've heard, has been banned in Japan, so, yeah.

But back to the story: now that the wedding's out of the way, I can work on the kinks between those two. Boy, is it going to be a long ride. Or not. I dunno. Do you want it to be longer chapters with fast pacing or shorter chapters with lengthy events? The frequency of updates is completely irrelevant (meaning, no difference) though, so no news there. What else…Oh, right, I corrected the Japanese term for Crown Princess, which is simply Kotaishihi, as opposed to earlier chapters' Kotaishihi denka, which is Her Highness the Crown Princess.

Anyway, thank you guys for reading and of course, reviews are eternally appreciated and will be replied to, if asked (but not necessarily remembered, let's be honest). Constructive criticisms, however, are remembered, while flames are (very much) provoked.

Finally, don't review if you don't want to.

Nemo me impune lacessit.