Disclaimer; In a world beyond my imagination, I do not own HnKnA and all its wonderful bishies and characters.
The Lonely Hearts
Vivaldi x Ace
Vivaldi – the Queen of Hearts and ruler over the Castle of Hearts. All those under her reign characterized her as many things. In the perspectives of her subordinates, Vivaldi was a woman extolled for her grace, elegance, and poise.
But there was also another side of the queen, a side only those desiring death sentences would dare try to see.
No one ever wanted to see Vivaldi angry.
It didn't help that the young queen grew especially irritable once the time of the ball came along. Everything had to be absolutely perfect. She would not allow anything to happen and ruin a thing… or let someone ruin it.
"Where is he?" Two Heart servants visibly cringed at their highness's inquiry, struggling to keep their eyeless gaze on her. Vivaldi's countenance was perfectly unreadable, her regal features carved out of pure ice.
The faceless maid swallowed and spoke nervously, "U… uh, we… we haven't see him since this morning, your majesty."
"Really. We see," she said, her voice disturbingly even and composed. Deep insets of amethysts narrowed, freezing their clock hearts to a near halt. The maid almost squeaked in surprise when they watched their queen slam her hand into the side of her throne. "We specifically ordered all of our subordinates – role holders included – to finish preparations for our ball. The event is tomorrow night."
The card soldier ventured speaking, "Well, I think we are progressing smoothly. We could certainly finish everything even without his…"
"Did We ask what you thought? How dare you question Our orders!"
"Your majesty, it's… it's nothing like that!" spoke both servants, nearly trembling in fear.
"We do not stand for such insolence! Off with both of your-"
"Vivaldi?" The three figures turned around, facing the source of the voice. Vivaldi's hard features slowly melted away, replaced with a vision of something light and soft.
Then her lips broke out into a wide smile. "Oh, Alice! We never knew you were even here! We're so glad to see you!"
"Um, yes. I walked in just a few moments ago," the brunette murmured, watching the Heart maid and solider scramble out of the throne room, mouthing their thanks. She sighed, returning her gaze back to the woman before her. "What's the matter, Vivaldi? Who's missing?"
The dark-haired woman released a sharp breath, tiredly laying her head against the palm of her hand. "Who else could it be? That annoying knight must enjoy inducing such an ache in Our skull…"
"Ace is missing?" Alice said in surprise.
"And just when there is still so much to do for Our ball. It's tomorrow night." Vivaldi's smooth face crinkled with small lines of irritation. "God, what an idiot…what We wouldn't give for that man just to get lost for good."
Alice tilted her head slightly, meditating something over in her mind. She then asked, "Vivaldi, if Ace annoys you so much, why keep him?" Vivaldi raised a dark, inquiring brow. Alice then took full liberties to elaborate. "What I meant was couldn't you just fire him? I mean, you have more than enough reason to get rid of him."
The queen scoffed. "That's ridiculous. Getting rid of the Knight of Hearts? That's just as ludicrous as relieving the man of his role! Please don't make Us laugh… there's no way We're doing something of that extreme."
"Didn't we just say it? It's simply just…"
"I know that's what you said. I was just thinking there had to be more to it. Perhaps there's another reason why you won't let Ace go?"
Vivaldi then fell completely silent, her body rigid and her features hard like impermeable marble. Alice refused to withdraw the question, waiting firmly for her to respond.
"Um, Alice?" The outside tore her gaze away from the Heart Queen, meeting the eyeless gaze of a faceless servant. "I hate to interrupt your audience with her grace, but could you please help us search for Master Ace? We can't seem to find him anywhere."
"Sure, I will, but maybe you could give me a few moments to…"
Vivaldi's voice swiftly cut through Alice's sentence, "Yes, Alice. Why don't you assist them in searching for our runaway knight? We simply hate it when Our subordinates skip out on their work."
The fair-haired outsider turned her gaze back to the Queen of Hearts. The woman's expression remained stiff and tense, betraying not even an iota of emotion. Alice sighed in defeat, seeing she was certainly not going to get an answer anytime soon. She languidly shrugged her shoulders, nodded her head to the maid, and began following her out.
Vivaldi was left all by herself, to the inventions of her own thoughts.
'Another reason why We won't let Ace go… ha! We never heard anything so absurd!' Vivaldi scoffed at such a notion.
But… what if Alice's suppositions were correct? Could there be another reason why the queen won't just let the knight go?
Suddenly a wave of remembrance washed over her, flooding with a surge of memories.
Another unladylike scoff soared from her lips. Her brows knitted together in irritation, casting shadows over her stormy violet eyes. "Oh yes… Of course. That annoying memory…"
Vivaldi was one of the youngest to ever become the Queen of Hearts. When she first arrived to the castle, she was surrounded by adults, some even twice her age. There were times when she found herself wallowing in a sense of loneliness, but Vivaldi always pushed such pettiness aside. She had more important things to attend to.
But one day, the king had brought her one huge piece of news.
The young queen's violet eyes were wide, staring at him with palpable surprise. "A new Knight of Hearts?"
The king nodded his head, seating himself directly across from her. "Yes, we were finally able to replace him with a new one, one that proved to be even more talented than the last."
Vivaldi said in absent consideration, "Really?"
It was about time they found a new replacement. She was not well acquainted with the last knight role holder because he was gone even before she took to the throne. Finding a proper replacement always took a considerable amount of time and effort, but they never failed. Not once.
The king nodded his head. "Yes… I don't know why, but it feels as if this castle is turning into a nursery."
Vivaldi shivered in fear, partially frightened by the thought of babysitting a knight toddler. "Why do you say that?"
"The new knight seems to be only a few years your junior. Really, I find it amusing! It seems as if the Castle of Hearts will be ruled by children!" The king laughed at such a thought. "But it'd probably be nice to have someone close to your age around here. It's better than being surrounded by adults all the time!"
The child queen did not respond, still mulling over his words. She finally asked, "So when shall We meet this person?"
"Ah, hopefully soon! One of the Heart servants are coming to bring the boy here as we speak!" He turned his head, seeing a faceless soldier appear form the garden brush. "And speaking of the devil, is the young boy with you? I'm very excited to introduce him to her majesty."
"Well… your grace, we seemed to have run into a few problems," the soldier said with a low sigh.
The king considered his statement and the servant's tired frame before coming to a powerful conclusion. "No… he didn't run off again?"
The faceless solider nodded. "I was just walking him over here and the next thing I knew, the boy disappeared."
"Ah… so troublesome…" The king tiredly scratched the back of his head and rose to his feet. "Please, just remain here for a little while. I'm just going to see if I can help find that boy."
The raven-haired child absently blinked, watching the king hurry off with the card solider. Poor little Vivaldi was left all alone amongst the roses, teacup handle placed in between her lithe fingers. Violet eyes casted down to the golden brown liquid.
It would be a lie if she said she never found such news interesting. A new addition to the castle would make things a little more exciting. Despite it all, she knew that such excitement would corrode over time. She doubted this new child knight would garner her interested for a very long time.
The young queen then took a dainty sip of her tea, deciding not to waste a single moment of such perfect serenity on such trivialities. The falling sun had bathed the world in a beautiful orange glow, making the roses in her garden an even more splendid crimson. It was simply divine. Nothing could possibly ruin it.
…How little Vivaldi seemed to forget that nothing in Wonderland was impossible.
A blur of red barreled out form the thorny underbrush, tripping over a chair and falling inelegantly onto the table. The figure released a disoriented groan, stars floating over his dazed head.
The cup lowered from her lips. Jeweled amethysts slowly descended to gaze into a pair of garnets.
Her dark lashes fluttered once, repeating the movement in languid succession.
Finally, the dazed young boy smiled and spoke in a merry tone, "Hello there!"
"Who are you?" she asked flatly, concealing her shock over his sudden appearance.
"Wow, aren't you a friendly girl? A hello back would be nice!" Vivaldi remained unimpressed and was unmoved. "So… wait. Oh, now I recognize you! You're that new Queen of Hearts! You know, I've always heard how the queen's supposed to be regal, graceful and quite the beauty."
The young royal felt her cheeks color slightly, flattered by such a reception.
The young boy smiled brightly. "…wow! You're nothing like that! You're so much older and uglier than I expected."
Her composed front splintered, her poise replaced with an undulating incredulity. He did not just say that. He did not just say that to the Queen of Hearts. His cheerful countenance did not waver, showing absolutely no signs of regret, remorse, of even that he was joking. The pink in the young girl's cheeks deepened into a fiery red, her eyes darkening into a violent violet storm.
All of a sudden, a scalding hot liquid was deposited onto the boy's brown head. He yelped out and consequently rolled off the cold tabletop.
"Ow! Ow! That's hot! That's really hot!"
"You deserve to burn for speaking such a way to Us! We are the queen here. How dare you call Us such absurd things!" she shouted in pure outrage, her clenched fists as well as her own body beginning to tremble.
He shook his wet head, sending soft sprays of tea to fly and splatter onto her face. "Hey, I'm sorry you can't handle the truth, queenie."
"That's a lie! We are certainly not old or ugly!"
The brown-haired boy merely shrugged his shoulders, muttering something about her being in denial. An aura of dark malice radiated from her being, her sharp eyes withholding a homicidal gleam.
Before the dark-haired girl could lunge forward, grab the teapot, and dump both its contents and the pot onto his stupid head, a patter of footsteps caught her attentions.
"There you are, Ace! His majesty and I have been looking for you everywhere!" exclaimed the card soldier, appearing beside the wet boy.
Ace jumped to his feet and nervously scratched his chin. "Ha ha… it seems I got a little lost?"
"Well if you followed me like you're supposed to instead of wandering off, then you wouldn't have gotten lost!" reprimanded the solider. "Always running off and getting lost… I'm taking you back, and we are going to clean you up and start your training earlier as your punishment!"
Before the young Ace could react, the card solider succeeded in capturing his ear and dragging him out of the garden.
The King of Hearts released a weary sigh, massaging anxious wrinkles that were forming on his forehead. "Troublesome little boy… My apologies for that rather unorthodox meeting. I was hoping for everything to go a little more smoothly. I am glad you to met though. What do you think? Were you two able to get al…"
"We hate him."
The king fell into silence, his features overflowing with shock "…what?"
"We. Hate. Him." Vivaldi repeated ominously, purple orbs still glaring off into the distance.
"May I ask why? You just met him," asked the distraught nobleman.
"We just simply do!" she shouted with fervent indignation. "We want that boy executed, tortured to an agonizing demise, to rot in the bowels of the dungeon and face a painful end!"
The king was momentarily speechless, staring at young Vivaldi's angry flushed face, the sheen of unadulterated malice glowing in her orbs. He never had seen her look so angry before. He frowned and said, "A… ah, I'm sorry, but that's simply not possible. We don't even have dungeon."
"Then let's build one. That boy would be Our first prisoner," she said flatly, her face suddenly falling into such a cold composure that it nearly froze the roses right over. Even the king shivered at the sudden, disturbing chill.
"Your majesty, you are not going to do anything to that poor boy. We have been searching for him everywhere," said the king. "You just have to learn how to get along with him."
The young girl merely harrumphed, her current demeanor resembling that of sulking child. The king sighed of disappointment and frowned at the sight. He thought this would be good for her, not annoy her. He just watched her drop her smoldering violet orbs towards her empty tea cup, her lips tightening into a thin, furious line.
'What an excellent first meeting this was.' The king could only sigh once more.
Several time cycles passed since Vivaldi and Ace's initial meeting. Vivaldi resolved to keep it that way.
She could barely stand seeing that annoying boy any more than necessary. Every time she saw that smiling face, heard that annoying levity in his voice, she felt an increasing need to throttle him.
She begrudgingly found herself agreeing that killing the boy would be unwise. Ace was a talented knight, probably the most skilled warrior she had ever seen in her short life span. She would always find herself wandering past the training grounds, taking in a few seconds of the young Ace as he exchanged blows, evading thrusts she would have thought impossible to avoid.
Ace surely was impressive, but it didn't lessen her desire to execute him on the spot.
At the moment, the young queen was walking to her rose garden for her usual afternoon tea. Everywhere she looked maids and soldiers frantically ran about, searching high and low for their missing Knight of Hearts.
Such news never failed to annoy her. Every time this happened, it wasted the servants' time when they should be doing other duties.
'That has to be the reason why for this irritating feeling…' There was no other plausible explanation for such an emotion. There wasn't another reason… was there?
She shook her head of the thought. As she walked into her usual place in the gardens, she expected to see the splendor of her roses, the afternoon sun making them seem more animate and alive.
Vivaldi's gaze instead was attracted to another figure. Sitting quietly amongst the vibrant roses was one person.
Vivaldi felt herself fall completely still, unable to mutter a single word. In normal circumstances, the unprecedented appearance of the knight would annoy her, and she would have wasted no time kicking him right out.
But she couldn't find it in her heart to do it, not when Ace looked like that. Such a sight was so foreign to her, as if some alien came and took over Ace's body.
The Ace she knew had never looked so sad before.
The knight simply sat there, ruby eyes fixated on the dirt floor. It was as if some invisible weight he was carrying suddenly was unloaded onto his shoulders, nearly crushing him. There was an uncharacteristic dullness in his eyes, a frown on his lips.
Without speaking to her, even acknowledging her presence, she could feel it - this pain, this sudden, crushing responsibility, this role neither even wanted… she felt it all once before. She understood exactly how he felt.
With her cool countenance intact, the young Vivaldi proudly waltzed over to him and seated herself right beside him. The brown-haired knight raised his gaze for a curious moment, staring at the young Queen of Hearts. Her face betrayed not an iota of emotion, her cool violet orbs set on some invisible object before her. Ace then lowered his eyes. Neither spoke a word and kept everything sublimely quiet.
Vivaldi stole another glance towards him. That misery on his face, that omnipresent frown… it seemed to cause nerves to erupt from her temples and increase her irritation. Without warning, the young queen grasped Ace's cheeks, maneuvering his face in ways no one even knew possible.
"Hey! Vmat mrar vmue dmring?" Ace tried asking, unable to move his lips in the ways he wanted.
Despite his lack of coherency, Vivaldi understood and replied, "That frown on your face is annoying Us. We much rather see an annoying, happy Ace than this even more irritating, brooding one."
His eyes suddenly widened. The Heart royal finally released his face from her unmerciful hands, finding the task too troublesome to continue. All Ace could do was stare, garnet orbs regarding her proud face, her guarded violet eyes. How strange… was she, the Queen of Hearts, actually trying to cheer him up?
Such a realization caused his aching facial muscles to curve into a wide smile, adding a bright glimmer in his eyes. "Okay! Sorry to worry you, Vivaldi! I never knew you cared."
"We were not worried nor do We care, buffoon!" she refuted vehemently, fighting a heat in her face. "It was just an eyesore, and We couldn't stand it any longer."
"Ha ha ha! Okay! If that's what you want to tell yourself," he said jovially, his voice carrying an undertone of laughter. "Wow, the Queen of Hearts isn't as old and heartless as I thought!"
He suddenly cringed, gripping his poor head after a harsh impact.
"How many times must We say that We are not old!" Vivaldi shouted, glaring at the knight.
All he could do in response was laugh.
For the first time in a very long time, she felt her lips quirk into a smile and her heart warm at such a sound. Seeing him like that – so genuinely happy and not that façade of happiness - made her finally feel her age, a young girl. Seeing him filled this lonely void in her chest. In that fleeting moment, Vivaldi thought herself happy.
That was why she could not truly separate herself from him, why she felt a tiny ache to hear he was gone. That was also why she refused to let him go, make him continue this role he himself did not believe in.
She just wanted him to stay by her side.
A low patter of footsteps caught Vivaldi's attention, breaking her of her dreamy reverie. She languidly opened her eyes. There was no one in sight.
"Who's there?" she asked, violet eyes scanning the space before her. Still there was only silence. She was certain not hearing things. As her honor as a queen, she swore she heard someone enter her throne room.
She was deliberating to call out once again when an overly enthusiastic voice piped up, "Hi there, Vivaldi!"
She jumped up, quickly rotating her head to her side. There he was.
"Ace, what are you doing in Our throne room?" she asked, her voice lilting and harsh.
"Oh, this isn't the ballroom?" Ace turned his head around, taking in his surroundings with a surprised crimson orbs. "Oh! Oops! It seems I got lost trying to get there! My bad!"
"Really? So you weren't trying to shirk off your duties and not work on Our ball?" Ace feigned ignorance and creating an air of innocence. "Don't you play dumb! How are you leave like that? You still have a lot of work to do around here!"
"Hey, I never said I was leaving. I simply got lost. It's not like I can leave anyway." Vivaldi gasped when a brilliant rose appeared from his hand, offered in her direction. She felt a strange warmth percolate all throughout her body, flow right in her face when he suddenly winked at her. "Can't get rid of me that easily. You're stuck with me."
All Vivaldi could do was take the flower into her hands, staring first at the lovely crimson petals than at his crimson eyes.
She did the first thing that came to mind.
Ace recoiled back, rubbing his sore head after Vivaldi smacked him.
"Instead of saying such incorrigible things, why don't you get back to work? We want everything to be perfect for tomorrow, and you did enough slacking off for one day," Vivaldi ordered him, violet eyes narrowed into a sneer.
In response, Ace could only smile good-heartedly, lower his body to a quick bow, and walked towards the door.
After a few moments, Vivaldi glanced down to the rose, the beautiful, red blossom. She inhaled once, breathing in its earthly divine aroma.
As the two finally separated, moving on to their different ways, neither of them could see it – the smiles of their faces. No matter how much either of them desired to leave, the other would do everything in their power to make them stay. They were just two lonely hearts – fragmented and ticking at their own, unique paces, bound together by some unspoken fate, but finding a comforting place by the other's side.
A/N Notes: Huzzah! A crack pairing! Woo!
Haha, I was bored and started playing with pairings with the other lady of Wonderland –Vivaldi. Out of the few I was playing with in my head, I liked the one I thought for Vivaldi x Ace one the best. So I ventured writing about the crackified duo and this oneshot was born! No matter how impossible it is, it was fun to write and think about.
Thanks for reading~