Hello! I think this fanfiction is finally one I am genuinely interested in. Hopefully, I can finish it. This is an UlquiHime and IchiRuki fanfiction. UlquiHime is the main pairing, while IchiRuki is sorta in the background. I go into way more detail with UlquiHime, but you'll definitely see the IchiRuki development/details clearly, as well. They are both my OTPs, so expect great things!

And before any of you go nuts on the title, allow me to explain. Yes, the title is a quote from Kubo himself in which he stated Ichigo and Rukia's hearts connected. This is mainly an UlquiHime fic, but I thought it relates well to both ships. Since Ulqui and Hime are connected by the 'Heart' and Ichi and Ruki's hearts connect. Anyway!

This fanfiction is based on Rusky-Boz's piece, entitled Royalty. I asked her permission to turn the piece into a fanfiction. So the idea goes to her, I'm just sort of fleshing it out.

Enjoy chapter one!

EDIT: This chapter has gone through some minor changes! However, it does not change the ending/outcome.


Our Hearts Connect

.x.

Chapter I: Sun

.x.

Carefully, the auburn-haired beauty slipped her new hairpins in her side-bangs. Turning her head left and right and left again, she admired the way the hairpins seemed to look just right on her. She beamed at her reflection before standing up. She needed to put on something suitable before her brother came to fetch her for dinner. She was wearing only a silk dress right now that was more like a nightgown. She hadn't left her room since this morning; she'd been too absorbed in her letters.

Orihime went to her closet, where she found a vibrant red dress that her father had given her for her birthday. She quickly put it on, her body gracefully stepping into it. She disliked having her servants help her change into her clothes; she knew she was the oldest princess, but she could honestly do this small thing by herself.

Not a minute had passed since she'd changed and someone tapped on the door. "Orihime?"

"Come in!" she called.

Her brother Ichigo stepped into the room, his brown eyes warm as ever. Orihime wished she'd inherited brown eyes like that; she had gray ones that didn't seem nearly as intriguing, in her opinion.

"Dinnertime," he said, smiling. "Tatsuki is here today."

"Tatsuki!" Orihime cheered happily. Her best friend was a noble, and close friends with the royal family of the Sun Kingdom. "Let's hurry, Ichigo!"

Without waiting for him, she flew past him and out the door. She held her dress out in front of her and ran down the long hallway. When she reached the tall staircase, she slowed and carefully walked down them. She was known to be rather clumsy, and stairs were notorious for tripping her.

"You're fast."

"Wah!" Orihime stumbled and toppled sideways. There was a light-hearted chuckle and Ichigo caught her. "B-brother, you scared me!"

"It's your fault you didn't hear me coming," he teased. He set his sister on her feet again and then offered her his arm. "C'mon, I won't have you tripping down the stairs."

Orihime laughed. "Thank you!" She slipped her arm through Ichigo's and together they descended the stairs. Their parents awaited them in the dining hall, along with their two younger sisters.

"Eh, did you trip again, Hime?" Karin questioned as the older siblings sat down at the long table.

Orihime blushed. "Haha, I did," she said sheepishly. She nudged her brother playfully. "It's all because Ichigo scared me!"

"You know Hime is easily frightened!" Yuzu scolded Ichigo. The latter only chuckled.

Their mother, Masaki, looked up at her oldest daughter in slight concern. "Orihime, I haven't seen you all day. What were you doing up in your room for so long?"

"Writing letters to Sora," Orihime responded, her eyes becoming a little sad. "I know he's gone, but... I feel like he still watches over me."

The King and the patriarch of the royal family, Isshin, gazed at Orihime soberly. "Sora was a good warrior, Orihime. He'll be remembered by not only you, but everyone."

The atmosphere of the dining hall had darkened now, and everyone sat in silence until a few servants entered, announcing the arrival of the Lady Tatsuki.

Orihime brightened considerably at the sight of her friend. "Tatsuki, come sit by me!"

The black-haired woman grinned and came to Orihime's side of the table. She took a seat by the princess. "Long time, no see, Orihime." Leaning over slightly, she waved at the orange-haired prince. "Hey, Ichigo."

"Good to see you're back in the Sun Kingdom, Tatsuki," Ichigo smirked.

"I'm glad to be home," Tatsuki affirmed. She let out a dramatic sigh. "The army guys get so boring. I tried to keep the fact I'm a Lady from them for the mission, but they ended up finding out when a servant of mine came to deliver a message." She sighed. "Honestly, I just want everyone to treat me like a normal person."

Normal person? Orihime blinked. She'd never been treated as anyone other than a princess. She'd never outside the district her family's palace resided in and she'd certainly never been to the Moon Empire. This was in stark contrast to Tatsuki, who went into enemy territory at least once a month. She wondered...what life would be like if she weren't a princess.

Dinner was served and the family (plus Tatsuki) began chatting amiably. Ichigo and Tatsuki quarreled briefly over a subject Orihime hadn't quite caught, since she was listening to her mother speak with concern about Moon Empire soldiers found on the outskirts of the royal district.

When they were just finishing up dessert, Isshin spoke up. "Now, there's something important I'd like to talk to you about, Ichigo." He had a serious look on his face, which was rare for the King.

Tatsuki looked between the two mildly before standing up. "I suppose I should go if this is family talk. I don't want to interrupt your Majesties."

"No, you can stay, Tatsuki, dear," Masaki said kindly. "We consider you part of the family, as well."

The female warrior hesitated, then sat down again. Isshin returned his attention to his only son.

"Ichigo. Soon, it will come time for you to be King," he said, his gray eyes flickering. "And if you are to be King, you must have a Queen to rule alongside you."

Orihime glanced at her brother in worry; she knew Ichigo didn't like this topic of conversation. He didn't enjoy being told he had to find a lover before he turned eighteen. He, as the only son and the Prince, would be the next to take on the throne. If he didn't have a Queen, the Sun Kingdom would lack the feminine and kind nature it wouldn't get from the King.

"Since you seem to find no one of particular interest in the Sun Kingdom," Isshin continued, "the Emperor of the Moon Empire has agreed to meet with me and bring his daughter Rukia with him."

Ichigo stared, his eyes widening a fraction. "Are you suggesting - "

"Yes." The King looked him hard in the eye. "We are planning an arranged marriage between you and Rukia in order to bring peace between our people. Princess Rukia also needs a companion, so we both gain much from this."

"You can't...!" Ichigo gritted his teeth, now glaring at Isshin. "I won't marry this Rukia! I don't even know her! Not only that, she's the spawn of Aizen, who's responsible for the deaths of half our kingdom! You expect me to get along with her and...marry her?"

"Ichigo..." Orihime touched her brother's arm in an attempt to calm him.

Ichigo, however, didn't seem to notice. His gaze switched to Masaki. "Mother, you aren't going along with this, are you?"

Masaki closed her eyes. "I know you want to marry someone of your own choice, Ichigo. But we are responsible for the lives of our people. We must form an agreement of peace with the Moon Empire."

"I...!" The Prince clenched his jaw and stood up sharply. Orihime dropped her hand as Ichigo left the dining hall without another word.

"Ichigo!" Tatsuki immediately shoved her chair back and chased after the orange-haired royal.

Orihime rested her hands on her crimson dress, her fingers clenching into the soft fabric. She hated seeing her brother hurt and angry like that. She loved him more than anyone, even more than her parents. He was her closest, most dear friend. To see him in despair like that, unable to do anything... It hurt her just as much as it hurt him, as if they felt the same pain together.

She wanted to chase after him like Tatsuki, but nothing she said would stop his despair. She'd tried, but she just wasn't the sort of woman who could give words of comfort. Tatsuki wasn't much better, but Ichigo seemed to respond better to her kicks and punches than Orihime's flustered, worried words.

"Orihime," said Isshin, calling her to attention. "Could you tell Ichigo that Emperor Aizen and the others are coming tomorrow morning?"

The auburn-haired princess nodded softly. "I will, Father." She looked at her younger sisters, who had sat quietly through the whole thing. The three of them exchanged a look of mutual worry.

Tomorrow would certainly be interesting, to say in the least.