Chapter 2/2 - Reaffirmation

Shuurei just looked up at Ryuuki's hovering face with bemused eyes.

"You can be so silly at times, Ryuuki," she said.

"I have loved you ever since the first time I laid my eyes on you," Shuurei declared truthfully. "Though at times you frustrate me all the way to hell and back, I cannot help but to love you more and more."

"And with you growing up slowly but surely to be the great King you are today, it is not only love that I feel for you but also extreme pride and respect," Shuurei continued. "You don't have any idea of how difficult it is for me to stay away from you; when all I wanted to do was to jump on you and never let go!"

Ryuuki's eyes widened at that statement, clearly not believing what he was hearing.

"But I stayed away for a reason, Ryuuki. A good reason," Shuurei's eyes beseeched him to understand.

"There is no reason good enough to keep us apart, Shuurei," Ryuuki somehow broke from his earlier stunned reverie and interrupted her explanation.

He sat up in bed and pulled Shuurei up as well by her shoulders.

"I love no one else but you. And now, I find out, that all this while, you love me too," he asked incredulously, shaking Shuurei a little by her shoulders.

Ryuuki did not know whether to laugh at the sheer joy of finding out Shuurei's true feelings or to cry at all the lost and sad times they had to endure.

"Wait, Ryuuki, you must listen to what I have to say," Shuurei tried to explain again.

Ruuki has already started to reciprocate Shuurei's earlier palm kiss with some of his own.

He decided to humor her by saying, "All right, tell me your reasons," not really caring with what she has to say.

All that was on his mind was….she loves me, she loves me, she loves me.

And to Ryuuki whatever problems or reasons they might have could all be fixed.

"I cannot give you children, Ryuuki," Shuurei dropped the bomb. She said that with her eyes fixed on her folded hands, pulled from Ryuuki's earlier grasps to lie on her lap. But slowly she braved herself to look up at him. "I am barren."

Ryuuki again took hold of Shuurei by her shoulders, this time albeit a little tenderly than before.

"Shuurei…" Ryuuki started.

Shuurei braced herself with Ryuuki's anticipated sympathy and ultimate rejection.

"Shuurei, what are you saying? You cannot bear children? What is wrong? Are you all right? Are you hurt in any way? How did you know? When did you find out? Are sure it is a trusted opinion? Why did you not tell me before?" the questions came in by the dozen but so far there were no rejections.

So Shuurei explained that during her stay at the King's Harem all the way before her election as a government official, she had to undergo a medical check with the Royal Medical Practitioner and that was when she was made known of her condition.

"It was after the poison attack," Shuurei added.

"Was that why you announced of leaving the harem right after?" Ryuuki prodded.

"Amongst other reasons, yes," she answered reluctantly.

"My poor dear," Ryuuki cried softly, pulling Shuurei into an embrace. "It must have killed you, knowing how much you love children."

"I was devastated, yes," Shuurei admitted ruefully, giving him a squeeze of her own.

"But I have greater purpose in life now," she added, pulling away to look up at Ryuuki. "I will continue to serve you as an Official. You can count on my lifelong support for you. And when I get back from my rally for the Kou clan's support, you can be rest assured of our undying loyalty for you,"

"And you can continue with Jyusan Hime as your sole bride," Shuurei added enthusiastically.

However, her false bravado was not lost to Ryuuki.

"Are you trying to tell me that you're backing out on our agreement," asked Ryuuki dangerously quiet, tilting his head to one side.

To which Shuurei softly replied, "I am giving you an easy way out of our arrangement."

"Well, I'm sorry to burst your bubbles, Oujo Sama, but I am not letting you go," Ryuuki punctuating his last few words to drive home his point. "And now that I know we share the same feelings for each other, I am going to continue with my One King One Consort policy."

"Ryuuki, be realistic," Shuurei pleaded for his understanding, this time it was her turn to grasp the young King's hands. "You want to marry me to beget an heir in the first place. That was the reason why I agreed to move into the harem on the condition that Jyusan Hime becomes your second consort."

"That is where you are wrong," Ryuuki said, cutting her off. "I want to marry you because I know that you are the best partner I can ever hope for. You are the most intelligent person I know. The most courageous. The most beautiful."

"You are the best cook, and right now, the only person who can best me at embroidery," Shuurei could help but to smile at his last words.

"Shuurei, my love, we can work this through. We'll find the best doctors. We'll get them to research on this. I am sure your university lecturers and doctors in Sa Province are ever willing to help us out," Ryuuki pleaded his case further while changing the position of their hand holding, this time with one hand holding one of hers and the other cupping her cheek again. He further showed his seriousness by sitting upright on the bed with both his legs folded kneeling style beneath him.

"And if all fails, I am not the last remaining Royal, you know," Ryuuki said at the sudden brilliant burst of inspiration. "There is still Seiran. His child can be the next heir. It is only fair, he is the rightful heir to the throne," Ryuuki waving his arms wide, perking up as though it was the most brilliant solution he could think of.

"Ryuuki…I," said Shuurei, suddenly loss for words.

"It's decided then!" Ryuuki ending the conversation. "We propose that we should sleep and rest now. It has been a long day," Ryuuki purposely using the formal reference to himself, which he hardly use with Shuurei, as if to cut the conversation with a decree from the King himself.

With that he replicated their earlier sleeping position with him cuddling her from behind; again resting his arms below her breasts.

"Ryuuki, really we should…." Shuurei began to continue arguing with him on their predicament.

Only to be cut off by Ruuki's "Hush now, sleep sleep,"

Shuurei resignedly sigh, knowing there was no arguing with Ryuuki then. Perhaps he will see her point of marrying one who can assure him of his heir in the better light of the morning.

"Aisheteru, Shuurei," the young King once again declared.

And to his utter happiness and contentment, his declaration was finally answered with "I love you too, Ryuuki."

Shuurei herself smiled suddenly at the wonderful feeling of finally being able to let him know her true feelings for him.

Ryuuki tightened his hold on her and kissed her on the head from behind.

A few minutes of contented silence passed by before suddenly broken with Ryuuki's next words.

"Shuurei…..I cannot sleep."

"And what do you want me to do about it," Shuurei's tone was that of an exasperated mother.

"Emm…, " Ryuuki contemplated on the right answer

"That was a purely rhetorical question, Ryuuki."

Ryuuki smiled at her chagrined words.

"Shuurei….." he began expectantly.

"Emm?" was Shuurei's reply.

"My lips miss yours,"

"I do not think that is a good idea, your highness," Shuurei replied coolly.

"I don't think so either, but my lips still miss yours," he whined softly like a petulant child.

Shuurei knew she was going to regret her next actions but she could not help but smile at his words.

Slowly, she turned in his embrace to face Ryuuki.

And as she looked into his beautiful brown eyes, Shuurei declared, "Ryuuki…. here are my lips,"

~ End ~

End Notes : Hope you liked it. I do not know how much the Short Story/Manga has progressed, if any at all, And maybe Ryuuki will eventually find out about Shuurei's medical condition in a different way. But, for the time being, in trying to appease my insatiable appetite for all things that are Ryuuki and Shuurei, I hope you will all humor me and accept this snippet as yours. Thanks a bunch for visiting!