Once Upon a Broken Heart
Starting school after doing nothing all summer is hard and not wanted. Homework is slowly piling up and it's only the first week! I HATE HOMEWORK. Thank the lord for study hall.
Anyway, thanks to all who reviewed and put this on some list or another. I was so excited to see how well you guys responded to it! Alright, on to the story…
Disclaimer: I'm running out of clever ways to say that I don't own Ranma. /
Chapter 16: Painting Jealousy
The thundering noise of the applauding audience welcomed the young royal couple as the stepped through the giant doors and into the greatly decorated ballroom. At the other end stood their families, the two kings and the queen standing next to thrones cushioned with red velvet.
"Today we celebrate the uniting of our kingdom and King Genma's kingdom by the marriage of our wonderful children! Let us kick off this ball with the first dance of the evening!" King Soun shouted as the crowd once again started clapping and cheering for the beginning of the celebration.
With a face set in determination, Akane walked with Ranma to the center of the dance floor where the many people had parted to give them room. Looking through the sea of people, Akane spotted Akari standing beside Doctor Tofu, both whom smiled and waved at the nervous princess walking by. Akane gave a small smile and turned her gaze back to the way she was walking.
"Scared?" she heard Ranma whisper from beside her.
"Of course not," she told him, standing up a little straighter to prove her point better. "You?"
"For something like dancing in front of a crowd of people I don't know who will be judging me with every fiber of their being? Don't be ridiculous."
Akane rolled her eyes as they continued walking. The only things being talked about as they made their long way to the middle of the dance floor was how cute the two looked together, how nice the new hair cut on the princess was, and how lucky they were to have such a handsome future king.
They took the final steps to the middle of the floor where they stopped and turned to face each other. Ranma bent at the waist in a deep bow while Akane lifted the sides of her gown and gave a curtsy fit for a queen to be.
The slow beats of the music filled the room when the musicians got the go ahead from Ms. Hinako who was standing in the crowd near the stage where all the instruments were placed. Ranma stepped up and offered his hand out to Akane who smiled and placed her own hand in his. Without hesitation this time, Ranma stepped closer to his dance partner and gently rested his hand on the small of her back.
Their feet moved across the floor as they danced to the sound of the instruments echoing through the huge ballroom. Neither prince nor princess spoke, letting the music being the only sound around them.
So is it official now? Are we really engaged?
Akane let her mind wander off as they danced to the person she was dancing so close with. It seemed so long ago that King Genma flew through the door and Ranma came in running after him. Even longer since she found out she was going to be married to him. Nabiki's words flashed through Akane's mind.
"Just think little sister, tonight's the engagement ball and pretty soon is your birthday. After that will be your wedding."
"Ranma," Akane asked in a quiet voice as they continued to dance, "my birthday is coming up soon you know."
"Um, when exactly? All anyone says is just soon. No one seems to know exactly how soon," Ranma said with drawn eyebrows as he looked at Akane.
"A week and a couple days," she said trying not to get mad.
How does he not even now when my birthday?
Ranma's eyes widened and panic showed in his eyes. He didn't know that her birthday was that soon.
"Are you alright?" Akane asked with a raised eyebrow.
Ranma looked at her a moment before answering. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," he said in a dismissive voice. "Just thinking that's all."
"Thinking? I didn't know you were capable," the princess said with a smirk.
"And to think I've been nice to you all day."
"Well, ok, most of the day," he said with a roll of his eyes. "You have to admit though; it's been a bloody long day."
"Agreed," Akane shouted over the claps that started at the end of the song. Ranma gave another bow and Akane another curtsy before joining their audience and clapped for the musicians before setting off to where their families were standing.
One week and a couple days, Akane kept replaying in her head.
One week and a couple days... Aren't we supposed to get married sometime after her birthday?!
If it wasn't such an "unmanly" thing to do, Ranma was sure he would be hyperventilating right where he stood. It seemed to him like his impending doom had just walked up and slapped him in the face as if it was out to get revenge. He still felt the sting even as they reached the part of the gigantic ballroom where the thrones were placed for the special evening.
"That was wonderful children!" Queen Nodoka gushed as the two came in close enough range to hear over the music that once again began to play only at a faster pace.
The booming voice of his father made him and everyone around the thrones including the older couple standing near by jump in surprise. Ranma slammed his palm to his forehead while the queen gave a nervous laugh to the couple.
"Good job dancing with your fiancé son," King Genma said giving him a thumbs up.
"Yes. I think the people are very warm to the idea of uniting the kingdoms," King Soun said, popping into the conversation from beside where he was standing next to Genma.
They're insane… Ranma thought as he stared at the two with a twitching eye.
"Come with me," Nabiki said coming up beside Ranma and linking her arm through his.
"Hey!" he shouted in surprise as she started dragging him away from their dads. Reaching the table full of food, Nabiki unlinked their arms and with her hands on his shoulders, guided him to stand next to the table.
"Perfect," she said with a satisfied smile on her face as her arms fell to her sides.
"Well I prefer Ranma, but I can learn to deal with it I guess," Ranma said with a shrug.
"Hmm, jokes about obviously big head that aren't funny at all? No wonder my sister can beat you up," Nabiki told him with half lidded eyes as she started tugging out the wrinkles in his shirt.
"What are you doing?" he asked as she started to brush off his shoulders.
"The question is not what I am doing, but more like what you will be doing," the princess said with a mischievous glint in her eyes as she made it a point to say 'you' with an emphasis.
"No, I'm pretty sure I asked about you," Ranma told her with a raised eyebrow.
"Well if you must know, Shampoo is paying me for one dance with you."
"What?!" the prince shouted loudly, scaring the same couple that had retreated to the table to escape from the loud voice of his father. "I'm not dancing with Shampoo!"
"Oh yes you are," Nabiki threatened him, giving him a glare. "Shampoo and I made a deal when you left this morning."
"But Akane will kill me! I'm serious! My body will be nothing but little Ranma pieces scattered around the floor!"
"You're expecting we find anything of your body?" Nabiki asked with a serious face.
The prince glared at the princess standing in front of him. "What makes you think I'm gonna dance with someone just because you're getting paid Nabiki?"
"Do you want a certain secret of a certain prince turning into a princess to be known by everyone?" she asked with a fake smile.
"Do you even have a soul?" he asked after a hesitant moment of silence.
"Nope! Sold that too."
"Prince Ranma!" the excited voice of Shampoo interrupted by shouting as she came up to where the two royals were standing.
Ranma winced at the sound of the Chinese girl and turned to her with dread. "Uh, hi Shampoo," he said begrudgingly.
"Prince Ranma dance with Shampoo yes?" she asked Nabiki while pointing to herself.
"When you pay up," Nabiki retorted back, holding out her hand for the money. Shampoo smirked as she forcibly put the money in Nabiki's palm. While Nabiki counted to make sure it was all there, Shampoo smiled and slid her arms around Ranma's like she did that morning. She was wearing a long Chinese style dress with a slit in the side that came all the way up to her hip.
"Shampoo!" the voice of the boy from that morning yelled as he ran to where the three resided. Ranma looked over to see the long black haired boy running into some of the guests mingling instead of dancing.
That's the guy who hugged Nabiki right?
"Stupid Mousse. Put glasses on," Shampoo told the now out of breath fool with an annoyed face.
"Shampoo my love! I knew I would be able to find you!" he said breathlessly as he reached for the thick glasses sitting on top of his head.
"What Mousse want?" the Amazon asked in a monotone voice.
Smiling like a crazed man, Mousse gave a great bow and held out his hand in front of Shampoo. "Would you honor me with a dance my beautiful Shampoo?"
"No," Shampoo replied before dragging Ranma to the dance floor with no time to stop her.
"Wait Shampoo!" Ranma tried yelling out as she led him to a clear spot where there was room for them to dance. "I can't dance with you."
"But Shampoo pay violent girl sister," Shampoo said as she placed one of his hands on her hip and the other she held in her own. She gave him a smile as the first notes of the next song filled the ballroom.
The next few notes came quickly after, indicating to Ranma that this was indeed a fast song that Shampoo had just dragged him out to dance to.
Oh crap… He thought with doom. Watching his feet as they moved clumsily across the floor, he concentrated more on not falling then who he was dancing with. As they continued to dance, Ranma more then once stepped on the foot of his dance partner's.
Dancing can't seriously be this hard!
"Shampoo make Prince Ranma nervous yes?" Shampoo asked him with a grimace as he accidentally stomped down on her foot again.
"Sorry bout that," the black haired prince mumbled with his head bowed to stare at his feet, willing them to move to the beat like the vampire was telling him to do so much that morning.
Lifting his head, Ranma gave a sigh of relief as he looked into the face of his best friend Ukyou. "Ukyou! Hi!"
"Who are you dancing with?" she asked with her arms crossed and a strained smile on her face.
"This is Lady uh, what's her name, great grand-daughter, Shampoo," he said, gratefully jumping out of Shampoo's arms and going over to stand next to Ukyou. "Shampoo this is my friend, Ukyou."
"Ranma no finished dancing with Shampoo," the purple haired girl said coldly, grabbing the closet arm of Ranma's that she was near.
"Well he's going to dance with me now," the brown haired chef snapped back while grabbing Ranma's other arm.
"Prince Ranma dancing with Shampoo!" Shampoo said angrily, yanking Ranma closer to her.
"I think Ranma would prefer to dance with me!" Ukyou replied back, tugging the pigtailed prince closer to her instead.
"Shampoo pay for dance with Prince Ranma!" Shampoo argued as Ranma was once again forced to stand closer to her.
All around them on the dance floor, couples stopped their movements and applauded the musicians and the ending of another song.
"Song's over," Ukyou stated smugly as she pulled Ranma closer to her so forcibly that he was freed from the trapping arms of Shampoo. She quickly led him away from the angry Amazon to a different part of the dance floor. They looked over at the musicians as they began to play a new song. The song's slow notes invited the many dancing partners to step closer to one another and begin dancing.
Ranma looked back at his childhood friend and shrugged. With a friendly smile on his face, he held out his hand for a dance. A blush rose to Ukyou's face as she gave a shy smile herself and placed her hand in his.
"Having fun?" Ukyou asked him, looking up at him with knowing expression.
"Loads," Ranma replied sarcastically and with a roll of his eyes. "How about you?"
"I'm only out here for a little bit before they need me back in the kitchens," she said with a sigh. After a moment of awkward silence, Ukyou bit her lip and looked up at Ranma sheepishly. "Ranma? Do you love Akane?"
Ranma stumbled as they continued to move across the floor. He looked at Ukyou with a shocked face and gulped. "What brought this on?"
"Well, you are going to be married soon," she said feeling like a complete fool.
"One week and a couple days," the black haired prince responded in a distant voice, looking over her shoulder at nothing in particular.
"You don't have to marry her Ranma!" she said in a rush before thinking. "We can just run away from all of this! Start a new life, just the two of us!"
"Ukyou?" Ranma asked his best friend in confusion.
"Ranma, do you like me at all?" the chef asked with desperation in her eyes.
"Of course I do Ukyou," Ranma said even more confused. Ukyou gave him a bright smile. "You're my best friend."
Her smile slowly fell and she couldn't even try to hide the pain showing on her face. "Oh," she said with tears welling up in her eyes.
"What's wrong?! What did I do?!" Ranma asked in panic at seeing the girl in front of him about to cry.
"Nothing," she said with her head bowed so her bangs would hide her eyes. "I have to get back to the kitchens now," she said before running off away from the dance floor while tears left trails on her cheeks.
Ranma watched her go, totally confused about what had just happened. Meanwhile, the people around him continued to dance and enjoy the engagement ball.
Akane sighed at the usual act of King Genma unnecessarily yelling out his son's name when he was in hearing distance. Deciding not to get involved with whatever her father and his friend were up to, Akane walked unnoticed to where her two older sisters were standing not far away.
"You and Ranma did wonderful Akane!" Kasumi told her happily once she reached where they were.
"Dad cried," Nabiki said with a smirk. "Again."
"Dad would cry at a picture of a door," Akane told her with a roll of her eyes and a smile.
"Well, I have business to attend to. Excuse me ladies," Nabiki said walking toward where Akane had just come from with an evil smile on her lips.
Kasumi and Akane stood where they were, greeting people who came to congratulate the princess on her engagement. Compliments were exchanged between the two royals and the guests as was expected. They saw a frazzled older couple pass by, coming from the refreshment table.
Wonder what happened to them… Akane thought before her thoughts were interrupted with the sight of Akari pushing an obviously nervous Doctor Tofu toward where she and Kasumi were still standing. Tofu stared ahead with fogged glasses and a goofy smile on his face.
"Hello Doctor Tofu. Akari," Kasumi greeted them when they stood before the two princesses.
"Good evening Princess!" Akari said happily with a curtsy.
"Hello Princess," the good doctor said with a laugh. He bowed low at the waist, only to fall on his face when he went to low and didn't come back up.
Kasumi laughed and told him how funny he was while Akari walked to Akane's side. "I told him to ask her to dance," Akari giggled in her ear.
"At the risk of everyone else on the dance floor?" Akane said with a smile as she watched Tofu turn a bright red when Kasumi helped him off the floor.
Doctor Tofu gave a hearty laugh and scratched the back of his head nervously. "So Princess-"
"Please Doctor Tofu, call me Kasumi," the eldest princess requested with a gentle smile.
Tofu gave another laugh and shakily offered out his hand in front of him for a dance. Caught up in the moment, Akane and Akari both held their breath at the same time, awaiting Kasumi's response. Kasumi's smile brightly and reached out and gently put her hand in his.
"Doctor Tofu, the dance floor is the other way," the princess laughed as the brown haired doctor led them both away in the wrong direction.
"Ah, young love," Akari joked as she watched with Akane Kasumi steer Tofu the right way, making Akane laugh.
This night isn't so bad after all! While thinking, Nabiki walked up to the two, counting a bunch of money in her hands.
"Who owed you money this time Nabiki?" Akane asked, only slightly surprised at the sight.
"Just a little arrangement I had made with Shampoo," Nabiki said distractedly as she finished up counting.
"What kind of arrangement?" Akane asked in a hard voice, her anger obvious.
"Look for yourself," Nabiki said, pointing to the dance floor where Kasumi had just directed Tofu.
Akane looked over where all the dancing couples just in time to see one couple in particular come into view. There, dancing awkwardly in the crowd was Shampoo and the very man Akane herself had danced with only moments before.
What is he doing dancing with that...that… BIMBO?!
Her fists clenched at her sides and her she set her face in a stubborn look. Akari looked at her pity. "Are you okay Akane?"
"Why would I be?" Akane said, crossing her arms over her chest and turning her head away with an 'hmph'. "It's not like I care about a big jerk like him."
"I thought we got passed this point," Nabiki said with half lidded eyes.
Akane glared at her sister before turning back to look at all the guests. Searching through the many people, she smiled evilly when she saw the exact person she was looking for.
"Two can play at this game."
Walking away from her sister and friend, the princess set out on the boy leaning against a wall where not many people were. Straightening her back and putting on a brilliant smile, Akane walked up and stood in front of Ryoga.
"Having fun Ryoga?"
"Akane!" the black haired boy exclaimed in surprise, almost falling down the wall. "Uh, of course I am!" he said with a blush appearing on his face. "How about you?"
"Eh, it's alright I suppose," she said, clasping her hands behind her back and joining Ryoga in leaning against the wall.
"Where is Ranma?"
"Oh, he's off dancing with some girl."
"Why would he go and do that when he has a beautiful fiancé to dance with?!" Ryoga somewhat yelled. He pushed off the wall and stood in front of Akane, grabbing both her hands in his. He looked her in the eyes with a serious face. "Akane, will you do me the pleasure of dancing with me?"
"Uh, sure Ryoga," Akane said with an uneasy smile. She wasn't expecting the reaction that she got from him.
The two walked to the floor just as a slow song started to play. Ryoga with a blush and Akane with a victory smile, they started dancing to the slow beats that filled the room. Shampoo stomped by, sparking the curiosity of the blue haired girl.
What made her so upset?
Looking over Ryoga's shoulder, Akane spotted the black haired prince and his best friend talking while they danced to the same song.
I wonder what they're talking about…
Ryoga was too distracted with trying to keep in time that he didn't notice his dancing partner's attention being somewhere else. Akane meanwhile, was watching the two talk from where she was dancing like any creeper would. She stopped in her tracks though when she saw Ukyou run away from Ranma, leaving him standing there with a look of confusion and pain showing on his face.
"Akane?" Ryoga asked when the princess's face flashed with concern for the pig tailed prince.
"Hmm? Oh sorry. Yeah, let's just, keep dancing," she said in a distracted voice as she once again started dancing to the music. Her eyes found there way back to Ranma after only a few seconds and her mind filled with questions about what she had just witnessed.
What is he doing just standing there? What did that jerk do to Ukyou?
All of a sudden blue clashed with brown as Ranma turned his face in her direction and looked straight into her eyes. Her heart skipped a beat at the intensity of the gaze he held with her own. Just when she thought he was going to walk to her, he put his hands in his pockets and walked the other way to the entrance of the ballroom. Claps once again filled the air as another song finished.
"Would you like to dance again?" Ryoga asked in a hopeful voice.
"Uh, no thanks Ryoga. I have to go do something," Akane said, giving him a smile that showed she was sorry. Before the musicians could begin another song, Akane rushed out of the ballroom, lifting up the sides of her dress once she was out the doors.
Not knowing where he would go, Akane started walking to the one place she could think of that the young prince would be. Turning the corner to enter the hallway that led to the garden, she stopped short at the sight of Ranma staring at one picture in particular on the wall with a thoughtful face on. Akane looked at the sight with sad eyes.
"That's my mom. My dad insisted on having a picture of her and he thought of all these silly poses to have her in. But she just laughed and suggested a more natural pose for herself," the princess said while walking up and standing beside Ranma in the hallway.
Ranma turned his attention to the girl beside him as she stared at the painting of her mom reading by the window overlooking the garden she loved so much. "My mom was right. You look a lot like her."
"Thanks," Akane said, looking away from the painting and once again into the eyes of the prince that had stirred so much trouble in all the days he's been here. "So are you okay? I saw Ukyou run away from you back there."
"I don't know what happened. She saves me from dancing with Shampoo one minute and the next she's running away crying," Ranma said running a hand down his face.
"Why were you watching me dance?" Ranma asked with a raised eyebrow and growing smirk, after a moment of shared silence.
"I-I wasn't watching you!" Akane stuttered with a slight blush staining her cheeks. "I simply looked over at that moment when I was dancing with Ryoga!"
"Oh yeah. Sure," he said with sarcasm dripping off each word. "Wait. You were dancing with that pig?!"
"Yup. Why? Are you, oh I don't know, jealous perhaps?" she retorted with a knowing look on her face.
"Jealous? Me? Ha! I'm not the one who was watching people dance!"
Without a moment's hesitation, Akane punched him in the gut. She crossed her arms, setting her face into a stubborn expression while Ranma clutched his stomach and groaned in pain.
"Was that really necessary?"
"I'm not jealous," Akane stated with a glare.
Ranma gave her a smile through the pain. "Sure."
The princess gave her prince gave up and smiled slightly as she rolled her eyes for the thousandth time that evening it seemed since I wrote it so many times.
"So, now what do we do?"
"I don't know."
"How about this," Ranma suggested as he straightened his back and gave her a boyish grin. "If you promise not to punch me again, how about we go back to that stupid ball, stay for as long as needed, then go somewhere fun."
"Like where?" Akane asked with her normal curious face.
"Wait and see," Ranma told her before cautiously taking her arm in his own. Together they walked back to the ballroom as they had just earlier that evening.
This should be interesting…
Wow. I suck. You can actually tell where I lost it. Oh well! I really like this chapter. It's longer and I like the writing. But do you? X3 Review and tell me what you think. Sorry it took so long to update. School is evil.
Thanks for reading!