Chapter 4: My Shadow, My Shoulder

Shuurei dragged Seiran to a nearby tree where she tended to his wounds. When Seiran woke up a few minutes after, he noticed her lying on his chest.

"Seiran, I am forever thankful to Kami-sama that He had given you to me," she told him.

He smiled when he heard those words. He knew he was always special to her, after her father of course.

She buried her face to his chest. She really loved the scent of his body, as if smelling it always brought her home. He was even a bit shocked when she caressed his fair face.

"I don't know what I would do to be able to thank you much, Seiran," she said. "All my life, you had always been there to comfort me. You have always been there when I was feeling lonely. It's as if you were the one giving me strength and giving me blood. It's as if you are my heart."

Seiran blushed hard when she said he was her heart. She saw his blush and felt the heat from his face.

"You are also there when I least expect it. You are my shadow, and you are my shoulder. I hope I could forever lean on your shoulder."

"Ojou …," Seiran whispered.

Not far from them stood the emperor. He had arrived late, for he had stumble along the way, and his robe was full of snowy slush. He felt a pang of jealousy as he watched his beloved Shuurei hugging his dear brother, Seien. Yes, he often felt jealous of Seiran, knowing how close the latter is with Shuurei. But he gave comfort to his thoughts, knowing that Shuurei had always been safe with Seiran. He, the emperor, might give her love, security, and money, but Seiran had more that what he could offer her. For Seiran had offered his life for her life, and he had often said he was not going away from home, as he had pledged to give his life for Shuurei and Lord Shouka.

"Are we going home now, Ojou?" Seiran asked Shuurei, who responded with a nod.

He got up and carried her in his arms despite the fact that he had been wounded from the battle. As he and Shuurei proceeded to go home, the emperor met them. Ryuuki showed Seiran a very solemn face. He could not dare be angry and jealous of Seiran, for he also adored and respected and loved him much, so much he had wanted to Seiran to go back to the palace and be Prince Seien again.

"I'm glad that Shuurei is all right," the emperor told Seiran.

"Your Highness…," Shuurei replied before fainting.

Ryuuki noticed Seiran's bandaged arm. He felt sorry for him and offered to carry Shuurei for him. Seiran hesitated.

"But Your Highness, I am tasked by you to always take care of Ojou—ne, Governor Kou. So let me please do my work as Your Highness has bestowed on me," Seiran said politely.

Ryuuki smiled. "Think of it this way, Seiran. I see that you are wounded, and I want to help. So, as a sign of deep respect, let me carry her for you, Ani Ue (Elder Brother)…"

Seiran handed his ladyship over to his younger brother's arms and they headed home. And on the way, even if Shuurei was in his arms, Ryuuki still couldn't get the fact out of his head that Seiran had always been her shadow, her shoulder, her heart…