Two figures watched them from the shadows, each one silently observing the pair with a hawk-like gaze.
Shouka smile contentedly, secure in the knowledge that his beloved daughter had finally made her choice. And to say he was pleased with her choice would be an understatement. Although, when he thought about how hurt and lonely the emperor would be, his smile wavered.
Reishin turned on him with accusing eyes, "You planned this from the start, didn't you?" he demanded harshly.
He raised his brow at the tone, "Rei-kun," he murmured, deliberately using the diminutive to remind his brother of his place.
The younger man flushed slightly, "Gomen nasai, aniue," he mumbled.
Shouka moved to face the courtyard again, and continued steadily, "I never planned anything. Though I must admit that I had hoped they would…" he paused, trying to choose words that would best describe his thoughts. "I had hoped that they would realize their feelings for each other, before they both did something irreparable."
Irreparable obviously referring to Shuurei marrying Ryuuki, Reishin thought, carefully mulling over his brother's explanation. He stared intensely at Shouka, intrigued at this show of foresight by his usually clueless onii-san. "You believe they are good for each other then?" he challenged belligerently.
"Hai," he answered quickly, without the faintest hint of doubt.
"Kurou will be furious," he remarked casually, though he was inwardly dancing with glee at the thought of how angry the proxy head of the Kou clan would be. "You are aware after all, that he had plans for Shuurei and Kouyuu."
Shouka shot him an amused look, knowing full well what was going on inside his brother's head. "Kouyuu treats Shuurei as he would a sister. A marriage between them would be absolutely out of the question, even if he is your beloved son, Reishin." Shouka explained completely and succinctly, unwilling to ruffle feathers so easily disturbed.
Reishin looked at him wryly, mentally giving him a pat on the shoulders. Well done Shou-aniue, well done.
"So this is what Shuurei wishes then, is it?" he murmured softly.
Shouka nodded his head in silent accord. "Will you accept this union?" he asked quietly, though there was no mistaking the edge in his tone.
Just to test the waters he stated, "He has no title, no power, no land— he has nothing to offer Shuurei, aniue." He pointed out reasonably. "He has no family, no background to speak of. Are you willing to consign your daughter to that kind of life?" he inquired derisively, playing the devil's advocate.
He merely gave his brother a hard stare and answered, "It is enough that Shuurei chose him; that Seiran loves her and she loves him back is enough."
"How touching," he sneered.
Shouka ignored Reishin's attempts to bait him. After all, he knew something the younger man didn't.
"I ask you again brother, will you accept this match?" he asked calmly.
Reishin watched his onii-san with eyes that were attuned to his every move, every nuance of meaning in his expression. The steely glint in Shouka's eyes issued a primal warning, and he found himself reluctant to ignore it.
Snapping his fan closed, he barked his acquiesce. "Hai!" then he turned on his heel, and said, "I'll be leaving now, and I," he stressed the word, "Will inform Kurou of this new development." That said, he was gone in a rustle of satin and silk.
Shouka smiled. No background to speak of eh? He wondered how Reishin would react when he found out that Shuurei had chosen… the best man after all.