Pairing: TezukaFuji, naturally
Fairy Tale: Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights/Shahrazad and Shahrayar (Unexpurgated XD)
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Tezuka/Fuji, Yumiko, Yuuta
Rating: K for this Prologue, M for the rest of the fic
Warning(s): Fantasy!AU, crossdressing, just look at the rating
Summary: After the King returned from his trip, people noticed something peculiar about him. Syusuke pretends as a woman to be the King's wife to solve the problem with magic and cunning. He only hopes that his deceit will be forgiven in the end.
Disclaimer: PoT is not mine.
A/N: I just want to upload this before the storm (the exam week) arrives. This was written for iceshade for Perfect Tales in LJ but it's not finished yet. This is doubtlessly long and I will update the rest of the fic when I'm done. Enjoy this all the same. I'd love to know what you think will happen. :D
Moonlight Tales - Prologue
Syusuke dipped his eagle-feather quill into the bottle, and, occasionally glancing at the book propped open before him, he continued scribbling spells and incantations on a crisp, yellow roll of parchment. The sharp tip of his pen scratched the parchment, dripping fine black ink along his neat scholarly handwriting.
"Syusuke?" Came a cautious voice.
He paused briefly, lifting the quill off the parchment. He then turned his head to the door and beamed cheerfully so that his eyelids crinkled at the corners. He seemed quite unsurprised by the sight of his elder sister Yumiko who greeted him with a warm smile as she walked towards him.
"Papa is taking a bit of rest," she said while taking short graceful strides across the carpeted floor. The gold embroidery at the hem of her carmine tunic shimmered as she approached her brother, and her face gained a yellow gleam as a ray of light from Syusuke's lamp hit her face, emphasizing the sophisticated features of her face. The sequins on the gold band of her silk carmine mantle glittered, causing her face to glow brighter still. "He has strict orders not to be disturbed so I'm afraid you can't talk to him until dinner."
"I can wait," Syusuke said with a reassuring smile. "I don't think it will be too hard to convince him."
"Indeed," Yumiko replied, dropping on the edge of Syusuke's oval bed. "Mama promised to help convince Papa. And this is more or less expected. However," she idly ran her fingers on the white silk sheets, "the King might be the problem."
Syusuke's eyes fluttered open for a fleeting second. His grip tightened on the quill before he placed it on its holder. "Why do you think so?"
"Papa mentioned something peculiar about the King's behavior ever since they arrived from the trip," Yumiko explained briefly. "He didn't share the full details but I'm sure you can ask him later." She tilted her head to watch the flashes of emotions on her brother's face. Albeit the smile was still there, a furrow was also on his brows and his eyes became electric blue orbs. "I can Divine to see what will happen," she said kindly.
Shaking his head, Syusuke rejected the offer. "No, thank you, neesan. We'll know soon enough," he said with a bleak smile.
Yumiko smiled sincerely in return, not quite helping but be proud of the wisdom her brother has gained over the past six years. She was especially pleased with the new side of him, the one that has learned enough to trust the magical arts with his life but not with his destiny. "You learned from the best Mage the continent has ever seen. There is no reason for you not to become the King's Mage." She raised herself from Syusuke's bed in one swift motion. "Don't worry, all will be well," she told him. She smiled once more before leaving the room to, Syusuke suspected, see her fiancé.
Letting his smile slip away, Syusuke began rolling the parchment into a scroll. He filed it among other scrolls inside the top drawer of his antique study desk. Deciding that he wouldn't be able to concentrate anyway, he shut the book. Six years, he thought. Six years of hard work… he simply had to be the King's Mage.
Calming himself, he took in a deep breath and allowed the smile to slide back into place. Shortly though he began to wonder what could be the matter with the King. Was the King safe? Surely the King was not gravely affected by the Queen's betrayal? After all, their marriage was only for convenience… wasn't it? Telling himself that he would have his answer soon, he withheld the questions. He grabbed the novel nearest to him and flipped it open to the first page, deciding to read while he waited for the dinner bell to ring.
A hundred and so pages later, the dinner bell rang at exactly seven. Syusuke blew the flame off his lamp and headed out of his chamber. "Good evening, Yuuta," he said merrily when he met his brother halfway to the dining room.
Yuuta glared suspiciously back, crossing his arms over his chest, rumpling his shirt in the process. "Why are you so happy?"
"I'm always very happy to see you, Yuuta," Syusuke said with a grin. "Aren't you glad to see me too?" He asked with such childish hope as they walked down the whitewashed corridor.
Glowering in annoyance, Yuuta snapped, "You've been gone for six years and you haven't matured a bit."
"I've been gone for six years… that means I haven't seen you for so long," Syusuke said, feigning a look of hurt, letting his smile sag by a quarter of an inch.
"Stop being annoying," Yuuta spat. "If you're this childish, the King definitely won't have you as his Mage."
"Touché," Syusuke said, chuckling lightly just as a servant opened the dining room for them and showed them in. "Good evening, Papa," he said quickly, automatically assuming a formal air. He paced the room and took the empty seat at his father's left.
"Are you feeling better now?" Yuuta asked, dropping to the chair beside Syusuke.
"Yes, thanks to your mother's tea," Aoshi told his sons. He affably patted his wife's hand on the table.
"Papa," Yumiko started as a maid ladled some mushroom soup into her bowl, "you mentioned something about the King earlier." She exchanged a quick glance with Syusuke before adding, "Surely, he's all right?"
At once, creases formed on their father's forehead, showing the tension he felt. "He is all right in the sense that he is quite safe and healthy, but," he stopped to contemplate the rest of his words.
"But?" asked Yumiko eagerly, eyeing Syusuke briefly. Meanwhile, Syusuke calmly sipped his soup. He smiled placidly at her, appearing only mildly interested in the conversation, aware that their father was watching them closely.
"But," their father continued, "He gave us two unexpected orders." He pressed his lips grimly. "First, he ordered the former Queen Narabi's execution, telling us that her infidelity will not be tolerated. Then he told us to find a wife for him. In addition, the bride should be a virgin. Otherwise, she will be executed as well."
A deep, awkward silence befell the dining room. Yoshiko looked quite disturbed and pursed her lips tightly. Yumiko stopped eating, regarding Syusuke thoughtfully as if wondering what he would do. Syusuke on the other hand kept on smiling while Yuuta frowned, bothered.
After a few minutes, Syusuke finally broke the silence. "It's quite uncharacteristic for the King."
"Indeed," their father concurred. "We are hoping that it's only an effect of the Queen's act. We're expecting him to change his mind in a few days – which is why I believe you should wait before applying for the post of King's Mage."
When Syusuke tilted his head in inquiry, their mother said, "I told your Papa. I thought he should know given the circumstances."
Still smiling, Syusuke nodded. He turned to his father and frowned thoughtfully. "But, Papa, what if it wasn't really His Majesty who made the decision? By any chance, did you pass by the Woods of Rikhastra?"
"Aniki, you can't possibly believe the lore that Rikhastra is enchanted, can you?" Yuuta asked in disbelief.
"But tales like that have factual bases, Yuuta," Syusuke said, smiling patiently at his brother. He brought his attention back to his father and asked, "Did you, Papa?"
Clenching and unclenching his fist on top of the table, Aoshi was evidently troubled. "Yes, we did," he said seriously. "But His Majesty was the only one who showed a change in behavior."
"But he was also the only one who has an emotional battle," Syusuke reminded. A wistful smile touched his lips. "Demons feed on confused souls. The King, what with all the problems he has to deal with, is a potential prey."
Their father sighed. He leaned back in an exhausted manner and asked, "What do you propose we should do?"
Syusuke dropped his spoon and folded his fingers on top of the table. "It would be wise to follow the demon's orders until we can free the King from its control."
"But we are not even certain if the demon has truly taken over His Majesty," Aoshi protested.
"I will find out myself, Papa," Syusuke replied, flashing a confident and reassuring smile. "I personally volunteer to be the King's bride… if necessary. That way, I'll be able to find out which demon dwells inside His Majesty. Then I can also find a way to get rid of it."
"Syusuke!" Yoshiko exclaimed, raising her usually gentle voice. The smile faded from her lips. "You shouldn't even contemplate deceiving the King. And trying to deceive a demon will put you in danger."
"Mama," Syusuke said slowly but seriously, smile still on his lips, "If I'm going to be the King's Mage, I should be willing to take risks. Besides, if I am able to free the King from the demon, His Majesty should have no reason to punish me."
"Why can't a real woman be his bride?" Yuuta asked dryly.
"The King would be flabbergasted to find another man sharing his bed. Why can't Yumiko do it instead?" their father asked intently.
"No wonder he would be," Syusuke said. He tried to straighten his face so as to hide his growing amusement. "But I will do my best to avoid such unwanted… scenes with the demon."
"Besides, Papa," Yumiko piped in. "I don't have the magical knowledge and ability that Syusuke has. In addition, I'm already engaged."
Aoshi sighed again. He cast his eyes heavily upon Syusuke's smiling countenance and then upon Yumiko's anxious one. He knew that as the King's Chief Councilor, he had to prevent harm from befalling the King. But should he do that at the risk of his own son's life? He raised his left hand to rub his aching temples. He shut his eyes and briefly prayed that his decision was right. "Syusuke, I trust you," he finally said. "Just think twice before every step you take. Don't cause any harm to the King and to yourself. Do you understand?"
Stopping himself from smiling triumphantly, Syusuke nodded dutifully. "Yes, I do."
to be continued