A/N: Yes, I know. This story sounds pretty cliché, but I've added a few changes that just might change the cliché things. Just a bit. ^^" The setting is not as you expect it to be. It's like those modern royalty places – basically… it's like manors (mansions). (Edit: I reconstructed some things. Mostly the third chapter. xD)

Characters that are Introduced: Shinou/Sinnoh, Futaba Town/Twinleaf Town (Places), Reiji/Reggie, Shinji/Paul, Sumomo/Maylene, Naoshi/Nando, Hikari/Dawn, Ani/Older Brother (A.K.A Reiji/Reggie)

Ribbon of Royalty
CH
1: First Knot

Prologue

Shinou is a peaceful land ruled by Prince Reiji.

Prince Reiji is quite young to rule a large land – for he is only 24 – but he is incredibly clever and cunning. His rules were very fair and that also counted for his compromises with many other kings and people. His palace was located in Tobari City.

Despite the large work of taking care of Shinou, he also takes care of his younger brother named Shinji. His younger brother is only 13 years old and many depict him as a miniature prince. The difference between Shinji and Reiji is that Shinji is more silent and isolated than Reiji. Many wondered if it was because he was merely a prince-in-training or if he was just indifferent to his people to build up his image.

There was also another difference between Reiji and Shinji. But this difference was only known by the two princes. Shinji tended to leave the castle grounds frequently to visit the village. Reiji visits the village too, but that'd only mean that there is an important announcement. It was either that or he went with Shinji to shop for some food.

Of course, if Shinji visited in his royal garb, then there would be a large commotion. He changed into a casual outfit he received from his grandparents for his birthday. He also had a hat to hide most of his purple hair. It resembled a commoner's clothes very much, and he was grateful for it. He wasn't the type that wanted to be the center of attention. He was the opposite of that.

So he roamed the busy streets, alleys, and even the markets… And no one was able to figure out that he was the younger brother of Prince Reiji.

~.~.~

It was a nice autumn day in September, excluding the strong heat wave that suddenly hit Tobari City.

"Ani, I'm going to the village again," Shinji called out. He was wearing his casual clothes as usual.

"Okay, Shinji. Be careful, okay?"

"Whatever." He quietly closed the door and rushed to a tall vine-covered gate. He climbed over it and landed safely on his feet. "I wonder what the street performers will perform today…" His secret interest in the village was the street performers in the village square. Of course, they weekly performed for half an hour at three in the afternoon.

He looked at the large clock tower. It was two hours before the scheduled performance.

"Eh, what have I got to lose?" Shinji headed for the street markets, hiding his purple hair underneath his hat. He scanned the products for today. There were more varieties of foods, jewels, and many more than before! That was because there was going to be a festival soon, and everyone was planning to go and have fun all day and night.

He walked around, but didn't have much interest in buying them today. Eh, I'll just go visit the houses, he thought. Of course, he didn't mean 'visiting' by knocking on a random villager's door. He took a liking to walking near the quiet streets. It was quite peaceful. Shinji exited from the bustling village square and headed towards the houses.

"Hey," a voice called out.

Shinji craned his neck to see a boy about his age. He was wearing a beanie cap, slightly baggy shirt, shorts, and sandals. The boy also had short, dark blue hair and large, shining blue eyes. "What do you want?"

"Sorry, but I'm kinda new here, and I still can't …"

"Are you a traveler?"

"Uh, s-sort of. You see, I traveled around Shinou to visit Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji. That too, and I need a place to settle in."

"Okay…?" Shinji trailed off. "So, what do you need help with?"

"I just want to know where the village square is for now," the boy replied. "I hear that there will be street performers there!"

Shinji rolled his eyes. "Their performance doesn't start until two hours later… You might as well keep walking in circles around here until then." He gave a short chuckle and smirked.

The boy's brow twitched. "Well, thanks for the info and the unnecessary remark." He crossed his arms and murmured something inaudible.

This boy amused and interested Shinji. "What's your name? Where did you come from?"

"Oh, now we're having a Q&A session?" the boy asked. He stuffed his hands in his pockets. "My* name is Hikaru* from Futaba Town. What's yours?"

"Shiro." Shiro was Shinji's alias. His original name meant 'faithful second son', while Shiro meant 'white (color)'. It was a bit embarrassing, but there was nothing else he could think of.

"Well, nice to meet you, Shiro." Hikaru extended a hand out to Shinji. "I hope we can be friends."

"Whatever." Shinji didn't shake his hand, looking at the clouds instead.

"Hey, that's rude!" Hikaru exclaimed.

Shinji smirked. "Hn." He ignored the boy and continued to walk through the streets. Suddenly, he felt as if someone was following him. "Why are you following me?"

"Err… You don't mind if I tag along with ya, right?"

Shinji sighed, shrugging. "Do whatever you want…"

Hikaru grinned, catching up to Shinji's pace. "Sweet. Thanks, dude." Shinji ignored him again. "So where's your house?"

"…" Shinji was silent.

"Ugh…" Hikaru sighed.

"How long are you going to stay here?"

"Hmmm…" Hikaru stared at the sky thoughtfully. "This is probably my last city to journey around, so I'll have to choose the city I want to settle in."

"How many days are you going to stay here?"

Hikaru shrugged. "I might want to settle down here, actually. It's a very lively place." He walked next to Shinji, whispering, "Hey, do you possibly know anyone from the palace here?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"No reason, really. I just want to visit Prince Reiji and give him my respects." Hikaru stuck out his tongue playfully. "I also hear Prince Reiji has a younger brother about my age." He tapped his finger on his chin.

"You also mentioned something about settling down here?"

"Yep! I might decide that I'll settle here!" Hikaru grinned.

"If you're going to settle here, don't you have to find an available home first? Besides, do you have enough Poké*?"

"Yeah, that's the thing…" he murmured. "My mother said that she'll give me the money once I decide on the place to stay, but… I can't find any available homes here." Hikaru laughed. "It's probably because this city is where the palace is! Obviously, there would be a lot of people who would want to live here!"

"It's true," Shinji mumbled. "Unfortunately, the majority of Tobari City's population is females that are fans of Reiji and Shinji. It annoys the younger brother completely.

"Hey, watch how you call their names, Shiro," Hikaru warned. "They're Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji."

"Whatever." Shinji slightly lowered his hat. It's not like I care if I'm called 'Prince Shinji,' he thought.

Hikaru's brow twitched. He wanted to hit Shinji very badly. "Just remember that, got it?"

Shinji waved his hand dismissively. "Sure, sure."

The two came across a large and empty field of grass. Hikaru peered over Shinji's shoulder, wondering why they stopped there.

Shinji smirked. He had a feeling Hikaru was itching to know why they were here. He looked behind his shoulder and found the boy peering over his shoulder. There was something strange about him, and Shinji was the type to find out what. What was stranger for him was that he felt slightly fond of Hikaru. Now, Prince Shinji was not one to become fond of anyone. He wasn't really fond of his brother, but Shinji did care about him.

What the hell am I thinking? he thought. Shinji shook his head frantically. There is definitely something strange about this guy.

Meanwhile, Hikaru was having thoughts that were almost similar to Shinji's. Shiro is acting like he knows Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji very well, he thought. Maybe he's actually working in the palace! No, no, that's impossible! He raised a brow. But then again, he knows some extra information about Prince Shinji. Now that is just plain weird… I am going to the bottom of this and nothing is gonna stop me! With that, a devious plan began to form in his mind. This is gonna be sweet…

"Hey."

Hikaru turned to Shinji. "What?"

"Do you have a little sister or something?"

The boy furrowed his brows together in confusion. "Nope. I'm an only child." He grinned, tipping his cap back. "Why do you ask?"

"Because you act a bit immature for a 10-year-old."

Hikaru rolled his eyes. "And you act like you know Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji very well." That did it. He saw naked panic flare in Shinji's eyes, but was suppressed shortly. Hikaru's eyes darted from side to side, before he hissed in Shinji's ear, "Aha! I got it! You work in the palace, don't you?"

At first, Shinji's heart was jumping as if it was placed in fire. Now, it was sheer relief and disappointment. Shinji thought Hikaru would think of something better than a worker in the palace.

"No." This time, it was Shinji's turn to find out some facts. "So if you're an only child, does your mother spoil you like you're a girl?"

"Hey, my mom wanted a daughter! Don't blame it on her!" Hikaru smacked Shinji across the head. "You know, I used to wonder if there were such people like you, and I just got my answer. You are just plain rude and idiotic."

Shinji shrugged. "Well, you are just plain immature and thick-headed…" He paused. "… What was your name again?"

A vein popped in Hikaru's forehead. "My name is Hi-Ka-Ru!" He gritted his teeth, trying to prevent cursing out loud. "You really are an idiot!"

Suddenly, a beeping noise was heard. Shinji looked at his beeping watch. "Well, what do you know…? We just killed about an hour here." He turned the noise off and went back. Of course, Hikaru followed him, fuming. "Are you going to follow me all day?"

"Hey, you're my guide. I barely even know anything about this place… except maybe the street performers." Hikaru let out a nervous laugh, rubbing the back of his head. "Sorry, I just like entertainment." There was a moment of silence. He took this advantage to peer into Shinji's hat: Purple hair. "Whoa, dude, are you like… a fan of Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji?"

The question made Shinji's eye twitch automatically. "No," he replied ominously.

Hikaru took this tone as a warning of not to ask any further. His lips pursed together, not even daring to let one squeak escape his mouth.

"I was born like this, and drop this subject."

"Sheesh, I'm just asking." Hikaru crossed his arms and starting mumbling inaudible words under his breath. "Anyways, what are you going to do for one whole hour?"

"Who knows?" Shinji murmured. I might as well wander around aimlessly, he thought.

"Hey, do you think you can give me a little tour around the palace?"

"You're insane," Shinji replied. "I can't just barge in the palace just to give one person a tour." He was fortunate. He has learned to use words that commoners like Hikaru would use. If he blurted out 'commoner', he gave everything away about his identity.

"Oh come on, it wouldn't hurt for like… five minutes or something, right?"

"You're going to keep insisting until I give in, aren't you?"

Hikaru's brow raised in surprise. "I had a different plan in mind, but your idea is better." He grinned deviously. Shinji groaned, smacking himself mentally. "So how about it? I'm gonna keep asking until you say yes."

"If you're going to keep insisting until I give in, it's useless." Of course, Shinji's attempt to discourage Hikaru was fruitless. He nearly spent half an hour listening to Hikaru's plea. He was trying very hard not to explode on the insisting boy. "Ugh, fine! I'll show you around later!" Before he could even stop himself, he blurted it loudly directly at Hikaru.

Hikaru blinked for a moment, but his blue eyes began to beam and widen in joy.

Shinji shook his head frantically. "No, I did not mean that!"

The boy smirked, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "It looks like my persistence broke you." He flashed an evil smile that actually could've equaled Shinji's. "And the decision is made."

"I am going to make you regret doing that to me."

"Sure, sure," Hikaru waved a dismissive hand. "Whatever you say, Shiro."

As Hikaru was doing a victory dance, you could see a grimacing Shinji growling and murmuring to himself.

~.~.~

It was finally three o' clock and a crowd was already forming around the center of the village square. Shinji and Hikaru managed to get there first so they were at the front.

Suddenly, a burst of smoke ensued, silencing – and maybe scaring – the crowd. Then, a massive shadow figures emerged. Blasts of fire, the blare of trumpets, and random objects appeared from the smoke. The audience stared in awe.

"Welcome, everyone…" a bright voice started. "… To Tobari Acrobatics and Magic!" A colorful spark appeared, clearing the gray smoke. There were about ten people forming a pyramid by standing on each other's hands. All the performers hopped with miraculous agility and grace. A woman with short, pink hair flipped and landed on the ground like a feather. "I am your hostess, Sumomo! I welcome you to another one of our weekly performance!" Her smile widened and she winked. "Let's get this started, shall we?"

As if on cue, soothing music filled the village square. A young man carrying a golden harp stepped to the front. He wore a green hat and a green cape. He was rather dressed as a gentleman. The music caused the audience to stop whatever they were doing and listened. It was as if even nature had stopped its breezes to listen. He soon stopped, and the audience burst into excited applauses. He bowed and disappeared behind the others.

"That was Naoshi, our new member of Tobari Acrobats and Magic!" Sumomo announced. "His talent for music is beyond anything we've ever seen! Now, onward to the next act!" She slightly moved aside to show four people. They were walking on large balls with their hands! Their balance did not falter, they did not sway, and they most definitely did not fall. They flipped to their feet on the ball and starting spinning them in place. Then, they jumped in the air altogether and landed on a ball opposite to them with ease.

The audience went wild!

"Awesome!" Sumomo exclaimed. "Thanks, guys! You did a great job!" She took a deep breath, putting on a confident face. "Alright, for this one, we'll be using the rest of the five people – including me – for this finale." She seemed to think for a moment. "Ah, of course! I'm going to need a few volunteers!" On cue, the majority of the audience raised their hands. Of course, the majority were children and teenagers.

Hikaru raised his hand eagerly. Shinji smacked his forehead, shaking his head disapprovingly. But he earned a hard stomp on his foot, from Hikaru, causing him to cringe in pain.

"Let's see…" Sumomo went around, scanning the children and teenagers that wanted to volunteer. "I'll choose you, you and…" She wheeled around, pointing to Hikaru. "… you!"

"Hell yes!" Hikaru came forward excitedly. He gave the other two participants a high-five. "So what do we have to do?"

"Climb into this 100-pound concrete pipe, and watch us do the rest!" Sumomo chirped. With that, the three went in the pipe and sat down. "Alright, we're ready to go!" A massive and muscular man lifted the pipe into the air. He lied down on the ground and placed the pipe on his feet. He held it still perfectly! "At the count of three, okay?" The other three performers nodded. "One… Two… Three!" Sumomo and the others leaped high into the air. One landed on their hands, while the two stood on his feet holding out their hands, and Sumomo landed on their hands with perfect balance and ease. "Tada!" The three participants shouted in enthusiasm.

The audience exploded into loud applauses and cheers.

"Well, that's all for today, folks!" Sumomo announced as she bowed. "It's quite early to say this, but… We'll be seeing you at the Hanami festival! Our performance that day will be greater than ever!" The crowd dispersed, leaving money in Naoshi's hat. Of course, Shinji stayed because Hikaru would hunt him down if he ditched him. Sumomo and others hopped off the pipe and helped the muscled man bring the three participants down. "Phew, that was great you three! You showed awesome spirit!"

"Thanks, Sumomo-San!"

"Yeah, thank you!"

With that the two children ran off to their parents, while Hikaru also thanked Sumomo for the wonderful performance. "You know, this was my first time seeing and participating in a performance like this!"

Sumomo looked slightly shocked. "No way! This was your first time seeing street performers?"

"Yeah. I've heard about them, but I've never seen them before," Hikaru nervously laughed. "I know it's pretty pathetic of me."

"Actually, it's a great honor!"

"Wait, wha-?"

"It's not pathetic! It's a great honor that Tobari Acrobats and Magic is your first!" Sumomo exclaimed. "You see, we don't travel often, and not a lot of people come here to see us. But if this was your first, it's a great honor! Say, if this was your first, you must be from another city!"

"Oh yeah! My name is Hikaru from Futaba Town!"

"Futaba Town? Oh, you mean that cute village where the aroma of Sakura leaves floats around?" Hikaru nodded. "No way! I've wanted to visit there for a performance for years!"

"You actually wanted to perform there, Sumomo?" Shinji's voice made Hikaru jump.

"Ah! Shin-!" She then noticed Shinji giving her a death stare. "Hi, Shinju-Chan!"

"Shut up," Shinji snarled. "I thought I told you not to call me that."

Sumomo whined. "Come on, Shinju*-Chan! It's such a cute nickname for you!" When Shinji looked like he was about to pounce on her any minute, she pouted. "So is Hikaru-Kun your new friend?"

"Not exactly," Hikaru and Shinji replied. They looked at each other annoyingly and turned to Sumomo again.

"Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but we really need to get back to Tobari Palace."

"Oh! You live there?" Hikaru asked, surprised.

Sumomo nodded. "Prince Reiji gave us a place to stay and rehearse our performances." She glanced at Shinji. "Unfortunately, Prince Shinji peeks in during our rehearsals, which can completely ruin the atmosphere in there! Rehearsals are not meant to be seen until the actual thing!"

Hikaru was gaping. "Prince Shinji does that? That is… very awkward of him."

Sumomo laughed. "Oh my gosh, I know, right?"

Shinji, knowing where this conversation was leading to, cleared his throat. "Aren't you supposed to be going to Tobari Palace?"

"Oops! You're right! Sorry, I have to go, but we'll meet again someday, okay?" she winked at Hikaru and Shinji. "Bye, Hikaru-Kun and Shinju-Chan!" The last name caused Shinji to go on the verge of deliberately chasing her into the palace.

Hikaru's snort distracted him.

"What?"

"Just answer my first question: How do you know her?"

"I always visit her performances."

"Second…" Hikaru snickered. "Dude, what is up with that nickname? 'Shinju-Chan'?" He burst into high-pitched laughter, which made a vein pop in Shinji's forehead. "Oh! Oh! Oh my stomach! They hurt!" He kept laughing while clutching his stomach. Shinji gave him a punch on the head but Hikaru didn't care. It was the nickname Hikaru cared more about. "The next time I meet you, I am so gonna start calling you Shinju-Chan."

"If you don't shut up, I won't let you in the palace." That got Hikaru silent almost immediately. It satisfied Shinji. Looks like this guy can be tricked easily. But something was bothering him. There were barely any ten-year-old boys who'd participate in these performances. He thought for a moment, and suddenly, his eyes widened. There is no way…

"Hey!" Shinji didn't respond. "I said… Hey!" Hikaru smacked the back of Shinji's head to snap his thoughts. "Did you hear what I just said?"

"What was that for, Hi… Hisashi, was it?" That earned Shinji a stomp on his foot. "WHAT?"

"My name is Hikaru! Hi-Ka-Ru, dammit! Get it right for once!" Hikaru growled. When Shinji walked away, Hikaru fumed. "…" He deeply exhaled, shaking his head. He followed Shinji. "Where are you going now?"

"To Tobari Palace. Where else?"

"No way, seriously?" Hikaru's anger disappeared immediately like magic. "Yes! I can finally meet Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji!"

"Why are you so excited to meet them?"

"Because they did a big deal for Futaba Town!" Hikaru smiled. "Prince Reiji wanted to help Futaba Town! I'm just really grateful for what he did!"

"What did they do?"

"Well, last summer, nearly all of our Sakura trees were dying from the drought and Tobari City delivered gallons of water to help revive them." Hikaru smiled and his eyes were dazed. "I'll never forget that kindness." He noticed the surroundings. "Wow, this is really a nice garden. It's well taken care of. Not only that, it's actually upstairs!" He gentled caressed a lily in his hand.

"Alright, take that off."

Hikaru stared at Shinji in baffled confusion. "Excuse me?"

"Take your cap off."

"Why? The sun's scorching! This is the only protection I have!"

Unfortunately, that excuse wasn't going to stop Shinji. But he shrugged, going back to watching Hikaru examine the other flowers. Shinji took this advantage by quietly walking towards an unsuspecting Hikaru. Before the boy noticed, Shinji pulled the cap off his head, and his eyes widened at the sight.

Long and silky dark blue hair flowed out from underneath the cap. Golden triangular clips and longer bangs were revealed.

"You…" Shinji breathed out. "You really are a girl."

"Kyah! No!" The girl foolishly tried to cover the back of her head with her hands. "No, no, no! Why the hell did you pull off my cap?"

"Oh, it's because you looked like you were burning under there," Shinji replied sarcastically. "Alright, so what's your real name?"

"My real name is Hikari! Give me my cap back!" She snatched her cap and fixed her appearance. "Tell me why you did that!"

"I figured out you were a girl." Shinji smirked at Hikari's reaction. "Hey, be proud. You're the first person that made me fall for your disguise."

"Fine, I'm a girl! Are you satisfied?" Hikari hissed.

Shinji's eyes narrowed, a frown replacing his smirk. "Now that I am, give me three reasons why you came here dressed as a boy."

"I know that Tobari Palace barely lets any female villagers enter here because they'd be fawning all over Prince Reiji and Prince Shinji!"

"There's one reason."

"Two, it was the only way I could give Futaba Town and my thanks and regards to them!"

"What's the last one?"

"I've been traveling as a boy this whole time! I only had clothes that were suited for a male. I left all my clothes at home." Hikari groaned, her hands hiding her face. She felt like she was going to be on the verge of tears. "Look, I just want to give them my thanks without any commotion with the guards…" She crouched, her face hidden by her arms. "Is that another good reason for you?"

"…" Shinji stared at the girl. He sighed, not knowing what to do. She did a good job hiding her identity until now, but that didn't mean she could be hiding the fact that she could be a fan of Reiji or himself. "You just want to thank them, right?" Hikari nodded. "Wait there." Shinji pointed to a tree nearby. He walked the opposite direction of that tree, heading for the palace.

Once he entered, he saw Reiji descending the stairs to his left. "Ah, Shinji, did you see the performance?"

"Yeah, it wasn't as bad as I thought this time," Shinji replied, smirking. "Oh, by the way, there's someone who wants to see us, so wait here." He ascended the staircase in the right, where his room was. He went in, changing his casual clothes into something more refined. A white collared shirt and long black pants was all he needed. He took off his hat, fully revealing his purple hair. He stuffed it in his pocket and went back downstairs.

"Shinji, is that boy over there the one you mentioned earlier?"

"Yeah, but Ani… That boy is actually a girl."

Reiji looked slightly surprised. "Really? Wow, he looks like a boy from far away," he murmured. "Huh, her disguising is almost as impressive as yours, Shinji."

"Oh geez… Wait here; I'll go get her." With that, he exited the cool room into the heating garden. Shinji saw Hikari watching a butterfly land on a flower. He took a deep breath. "Hey."

Hikari's head jerked to the voice. "Whoa… Prince Shinji?"

"Yes?"

"Wow, you look so similar to Shiro! Are you two like… twins or something?"

"Shiro?" Shinji chuckled, smirking. He took out his hat and put it on. "You mean me?" He became more amused at Hikari's expression. It was like a mix of shock, confusion, and impress.

"So… You're Shiro?"

Shinji ignored that question for the moment and gestured her to come in. Once they entered, Shinji stood beside Reiji. "She's here, Ani."

"It's nice to meet you, Hikari-Kun." Reiji made a slight bow.

"M-my name is Hikari from Futaba Town!" She bowed to Reiji and Shinji. "It's very nice to meet you too, Prince Reiji!" She stood back up more politely: hands together in the front, straight posture, and feet together. "What I came here was to give you Futaba Town's and my thanks and regards for last summer's water supply. We are very grateful for your kindness!" She bowed again, nervousness racking her joints. "U-uh, I apologize for the very belated thanks, but I had to travel to Tobari City in place of Futaba Town."

Reiji smiled, approaching Hikari. He placed a hand on her shoulder. "No problem, Hikari-Kun. Even if it is late, I am much honored that you traveled here alone with your town's thanks. It must've been a bit heavy on your shoulders."

Hikari perked up, shaking her head. "Actually, I was the one who suggested it. It wasn't that burdensome." She glanced at Shinji. "Um, excuse me, about my previous question… Y-you don't need to answer it!"

Shinji merely jerked his head to the side, his arms crossed. "If I'm Shiro?" Hikari nodded. He put on his hat back on again. "The answer is: Yes, I am Shiro."

"Shinji, you are showing a different character today," Reiji murmured. He whispered to Hikari, "Uh, you see, my little brother likes to go outside the palace grounds to see the markets, performances, and etcetera. He always wears a disguise to prevent anyone from finding out. Outside, he goes by the name of 'Shiro'."

Hikari's eyes widened. "S-so, he is… Shiro?" she squeaked. When Shinji nodded, her hands cupped her mouth. Oh no… she thought. Th-then… That means I… I smacked the Prince Shinji! Suddenly, she came to the moment when she stomped hard on Shinji foot. All hell broke loose.

While Hikari was having her paranoid antics, Reiji nudged Shinji. "Is Hikari-Kun okay?"

Shinji shrugged. "She's probably having a fit because she physically hit me many times." His older brother laughed. "What?"

"What did you do to get hit?" Reiji laughed. He sighed and waved his hand in front of Hikari's face. "Hikari-Kun?"

"Oh my goodness, I am very sorry for my actions before!" Hikari exclaimed. "P-please forgive me for smacking and stomping on you." Her mind was in chaos. A mix of confusion, nervousness, fear, and apologetic feelings were burning in her body.

"Uh… What was your name again?"

Hikari froze. A wave of frustration washed away the previous feelings, and she snapped. "I told you before! My* name is HIKARI!" She suppressed the urge scream out loud, which would cause a commotion. "Remember it for once, idiot!" After she realized what she just said, she cupped her mouth again, her eyes wide. "Uh… I didn't mean that."

Reiji broke out in a chuckle. "Now I understand why she did and would hit you, Shinji." He exhaled, trying to calm himself. "Well, I'm surprised to see someone act this way towards Shinji, but it's somewhat relieving." He smiled brightly. "I really like your spirit, Hikari-Kun. It's very refreshing compared to what Shinji has to face every day."

"Huh? What do you-?"

"You said you needed a place to stay, right?" Shinji interrupted.

"Yes, but I'm not sure if there are any available homes here," Hikari replied, fiddling with her fingers. "If I can't find any, I'll just have to go find another city to settle in."

"How about working as a maid here?"

Reiji and Hikari stared at Shinji in astonishment.

"Wait, what?"

"Shinji, what's with the sudden decision? You haven't seen the other maids yet," Reiji said.

"Other maids?" Hikari blinked in confusion.

"You see, Shinji's previous maid had quit due to family issues, so he needs a new one." Reiji tapped Shinji's shoulder. "So you want Hikari-Kun to be your maid?" The younger prince gave a short nod.

"B-but, that's impossible!" Strangely, Hikari felt some frustration inside her. "Besides, if I live here, won't the rent or something be really high?"

"Not exactly, Hikari-Kun," Reiji replied. "The job is big, but being a maid who lives here… The price for a room here isn't as much as you think. Like I said just now, maids usually get the easier prices."

Hikari glanced at Shinji nervously. "W-well…" she stuttered. "I wouldn't mind working here as a maid, because in Futaba Town, my mother works for a maid café. I only worked there to greet and give out drinks." She fiddled with her fingers again. "It's not much, though."

"I think that's perfect, really." Shinji shrugged. "It's not like I do anything big anyways." He lifted his head, staring directly at Hikari.

"Can you tell me the price for staying here as a maid first?" Hikari squeaked. Inside, Shinji was satisfied. She was on the verge of accepting his offer.

"It's only 42,265 Poké*," Shinji answered. "That's it. All you need to do is work as a maid until you want to quit." He crossed his arms, giving Hikari a smug look. "So what do you say? Will you accept or reject my offer?" Reiji watched Shinji with interest.

"Well… I… uh…"

Shinji raised a brow.

"I…!"

~.~.~

A/N: Yes, it's a cliffhanger. But to prevent any readers from being frustrated, I went ahead and posted the next chapter. xDD Be happy, people! :P Hey, school's almost over. T^T I have to make the setting in autumn, right? I mean, once I get to school, I'd barely have time to work on the chapters!

My Name is Hikaru – In Japanese translation, this would be: Ore no namae wa Hikaru desu. Ore (oh-reh) means 'I' but it's used by BOYS only. Ore sounds tougher than another 'I' term that boys use, which is boku. Hikaru is the masculine version of Hikari.

My Name is HIKARI! – In this 'my', she's using boku.

Poké – It is this world's currency. 1 Poké is equal to the amount 1 Japanese Yen.

42,265 Poké – It's not as much as you think, really. In USA currency, it's about five hundred dollars. Yeah, I know. I am too nice on Hikari. xD