Chapter Twenty Nine: The Answer
"They're kissing!" Hashi crowed triumphantly from his place in the high window, his spyglass lowered so that he could turn to the crowd of felines behind him.
"Told you so," Tsunami gloated triumphantly to her huge husband while rocking Haruka gently.
"All right, all right," he grumbled angrily. "How the heck did you know it'd be this Christmas?"
"Call it a woman's intuition," his dark wife said smugly, checking her daughter's diaper critically. "Oh, and Haruka needs a change, husband dearest."
Muta sighed in a defeated manner, taking his other daughter with one arm so that he could quietly leave the room as the von Gikkingen and Yoshioka children began fighting earnestly over just who got to look through the spyglass next.
The children ran down the stairs when the morning had truly come, and burst through the kitchen door.
Haru was in there as usual, but this time, Baron was with her.
The slim brunette looked over her shoulder, and grinned broadly while easing waffles from the iron device they had been cooking in. "Good morning, children!" she said cheerfully as Baron finished transferring the syrup from the pot into a ceramic pitcher.
Elly and Lily ran up to her, and squeezed her happily from the waist, one kitten on each side of their beloved nanny.
"Hey, be careful!" the slim brunette cautioned, holding the hot plate high above her head so that the two girls wouldn't make her drop it.
"Well?!" Lily demanded as her blue eyes sparkled magically.
"Well, what?" the nanny asked calmly, thanking Baron with a smile as he rescued the waffles before they could end up on the floor. He grinned back at her, more foolishly than the kittens had ever seen before.
"Are you gonna marry Father or not?" Elly pleaded, tugging on Haru's slightly messed apron.
The slim woman, for there was no way that she could be called a human anymore thanks to her new fur coat and feline ears, kneeled down to be face to face with the white kitten. Lovingly, she wrapped the tiny girl into a warm hug, and kissed her brow tenderly. "Real ladies don't say 'gonna', Elly. Try 'going to'."
"That's not fair," the tiniest von Gikkingen pouted as her devoted nanny picked her up, and set her gently in one of the chairs around the table.
"Neither is life," Baron reminded her, chuckling a bit as he also sat down at the table.
"Come now, Father," Thomas pleaded, but his sire remained silent, only a smirk betraying his true emotions.
"You're cruel, you know that, Haru?" Hashi accused just before he left to fetch Muta and Tsunami for breakfast, since they had already been up thanks to their beautiful twin girls.
His beloved elder sister smiled smugly, and took a bite of waffle. "I love you too, Brother dearest."
The rest of the month became a game between the couple in question and the rest of the household. Try as they might, the children could never catch Baron or Haru in a promise of one way or another, despite the fact that the two could be witnessed early every morning dancing in the snow, far from the house. Only the footprints remained to tell of the brunette's slow but steady progress in dance.
When the night before Christmas did eventually come, it was a sleepless one for all of the children. Even Muta and Tsunami found slumber to be a distant shore, for all their certainty of what the Baron and Haru were planning.
It was still dark when the children snuck up to the high window again, and took up the customary spyglass.
"Hey, you got a turn yesterday!" Thomas protested as Hashi bent over the window as much as possible, the spyglass in his hand. "Come now, it's my turn."
"Hey," Elly protested as the brown half-cat, for the dark lad had given up all attempts to keep his humanity, awkwardly gave the spyglass to his best friend underhanded, still staring at the ground beneath them as his warm breath fogged the window.
"They haven't left yet," the tawny feline reported as he looked around with the spyglass. "Last night's snowfall is undisturbed."
Lily sighed heavily, but her tired blue eyes were sparkling nonetheless. "You know what? I think this is the first Christmas morning that we ran up here instead of down to the tree."
Thomas shrugged, using the spyglass to check the distant meadow, just in case they had gone out the back and had circled around the front area of the house again.
The children waited patiently for the two to emerge, and begin their familiar dance once again.
The minutes ticked by.
The sun slowly rose from its soft white bed, and rose to greet the silent world.
"Where are they?" Hashi muttered furiously, craning his neck in every direction that he could manage without actually opening the window.
Elly still had a soft pink blanket wrapped around her shoulders, and her mind was still slow from a troubled night's rest. She yawned loudly, keeping one hand over her mouth like the lady Haru was training her to be. "Maybe they're downstairs with the tree," the white kitten suggested sleepily.
The older children looked at each other with horror, and dropped the spyglass in their eagerness to be the first one out the door.
"Hey," Elly protested, keeping one hand on the blanket as she ran after them. "Wait for me!"
The feline children raced across the corridor and down the stairs in a heartbeat, but in a moment of weakness, Thomas ran back for his little sister, and swept her into his arms so that she wouldn't be left behind.
To their credit, Hashi and Lily waited for Thomas to bring Elly down before they hesitantly made the trip around the wall into the family room.
The Christmas tree sparkled with beauty and brightly wrapped boxes, but no one was looking at it.
Muta and Tsunami were already in the room, sitting on a couch to the side, each one holding a kitten as usual.
Baron and Haru, on the other hand, were standing right in front of the gorgeous tree, blushing a little with their arms firmly wrapped around each other.
The brunette feline smiled a bit brighter for the kittens, and raised one hand so that they could see it.
On her finger was a ring, with tiny diamonds set in it to resemble a simple bow that sparkled in the sunlight, the only gift they had really wanted for the holidays.
"Merry Christmas, children," she whispered lovingly, holding her arms out wide to accept the almost brutal assault that her soon-to-be step-children gave her.
Hashi was no better, but his embrace was for Baron. Neither had ever had a brother before, and both were looking forward to having one.
From a portrait on the grand piano in the corner, Louise was smiling again, but this time, there was no sadness in the gesture.
"I knew it!" Lune shouted gleefully, startling his queen from slumber.
"Mm? What is it, love?" the lovely white feline asked sleepily. Her devoted husband stopped dancing around the bed long enough to hand his wife the modest wedding invitation that Natori had just brought in.
Yuki stared at it, her sleepy blue eyes growing wide with shock. "Haru?!" she asked incredulously. "And Baron?! Getting married?"
King Lune nodded happily, his mismatched eyes of fire and ice sparkling in the morning sun as he sat down on the bed. "It's about time that those two admitted how they felt to each other! I think everyone in the kingdoms knew, except for them!"
"I didn't," Yuki sulked, making her husband grin and kiss her pouty lip.
"That's because you don't bother with gossip, beloved." He gently took the invitation from her, and looked at the lovely calligraphy thoughtfully. "It might be a good idea to hold off on telling Father about this," the newly crowned monarch said in a serious manner. "It was demoralizing enough for him to get broken to pieces by Haru in front of the court, and then forced to relinquish the throne to me because his body refuses to heal. If he finds out about this, he'll just cause more embarrassment to himself and the royal family."
"How long should we keep it from him, honey?" Yuki asked while stretching leisurely.
"I think until after they're married would be a safe precaution. They're planning on a pretty private ceremony anyway." Striking on a slightly wicked idea, the new king grinned evilly, and pulled on a velvet rope that would summon Natoru. "But I think that the ex-countess down in the dungeon would enjoy having the Baron's wedding invitation read to her. Don't you agree, dear?"
Yuki just laughed.
Okay, lots of love to; Natsuko37, Fan Boy 101, 13IsTaLkThEaKaTsUkI13, gacktxx, NinjaFoodLover, Rebel of my Destiny, Savannah Cullen, Moonless X Angel, GhibliGirl91, Bambi4ever, Chantal, Revy22, Raine Haruto, Drifting One, Shadowclaw505, asian9090, Anonomous-Allstar-Fan (and Bob), fringeperson, Archon Dragon, Lunarobi Pride, Triste1, EagleBlaze954, Rai180, 002fox, Ghost Wulf, Rini's Ghost, LeafeKnight7, Elvin Magi, Nonimouse, Raine, Risika Tziporah, kittydemon18, Strawberry White Tiger, Lanari, Annemarie, chibiaries, Shadow's Cross, LucyMint, slavetothekeyboard, Thundercat, QuickStar, Poet on the Run, Naa-chan, ArtsyChick, aoi senshi, NinjoftheDarkness, tashie1010, and Bibishi Kuronecko787 for reviewing my work and sticking with me through it. You guys were so much fun to talk to, and I'm glad that I got the chance to do so.
Okay, I know that I've started a tradition of including a summary of my next story at the end of an old one, so here's my next piece;
A rose by any other name… wouldn't sound as cool. Even if the flower happened to be enchantingly blue.
Who can guess my next fairy tale inspiration? Those who guess right the first time get to have their names included in the first chapter.
Lots of love,