Princely Plot Bunny
a modern story with old-fashioned flavors
A/N: This story will contain all of the major JR pairings, as well as the Sekaiichi Hatsukoi lovers. I didn't mark this story as a crossover though because it makes it hard for people to find it on the site to read it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Junjou Romantica nor do I own Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. I do own the plot of this fanfiction, however.
Warnings for the story: Smut, Times Of Great Fluffiness, Drama/Angst, Occasional Crack Plots, and M-Preg. So in short, what this story really is - is a box of chocolates.
Chapter One: A Kingdom Alone
Akihiko straightened his tie and sighed with mounting ennui, tucking a pack of cigarettes in the back pocket of his trousers. Time to get to his day job; the manuscript he was honing would have to wait until this unpleasantness was dealt with. If he refused to stand in and perform his royal duties, his father would no longer indulge the man's authorial habits, and given that Akihiko had negotiated strenuously to get the elder Usami to agree to his hobby, he was not inclined to lose his privileges.
Shortly after three in the afternoon was when the Crown Prince began holding his usual hearing session, representing his father, Usami Fuyuhiko in matters personnel with the nobility of their kingdom. He typically dealt with petitions for land transfer and more intimate matters. Men and women of the higher classes needed to obtain his or the King's permission to marry, and it was also seen as good tactics to have one of the royal set approve of their children's names when they were born.
So, in the end, his day was filled with what he found mundane transactions, but that was what had been decreed for him. Being that he was the only legitimate child of the king, there were heaps of pressure put upon him to behave in a correct manner, and also to follow nicely in his sire's footsteps.
What if he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps? It wasn't as if Akihiko didn't have dreams and aspirations of his own. By following orders he was giving up on what could've easily led to true happiness. His novels were extremely important to him. That was where his joy lay. Being able to write was not part of the "Grand Plan" that had been laid out for him though. Sure, he could do it on the side, but that wasn't what his heart wanted.
At present, his heart was more immersed in what to do to the main character in his latest creation. The prince had a few ideas running throughout his head regarding the matter. His biggest idea was to involve the main character in an accident wherein the love interest would need to take care of the main character. During this time they could grow closer to one another and learn about things in their past that weren't what they had seemed to be.
It was a valuable idea and Akihiko almost wanted to turn around and jot it down somewhere before he lost the trail of thought entirely, but he was stopped in the hallway by one of the meal planners.
"Well?" Akihiko asked, looking down on the girl.
"Sorry, your highness," she said with a deep bow of respect. "I didn't mean to stop you, but I need your approval to use green peppers in one of the dishes served tonight. I know his highness doesn't like green peppers, but your father specifically requested I put them in the dish and hide them from you. I didn't think that was..."
Akihiko smiled, lips creasing in a soft arrangement. He relished when the staff ignored his father's request and let him in on the secrets of the dishes served. Like a lecher, he leaned in and about pinned her to the wall with a sly cast of his eyes.
"I appreciate you telling me beforehand. Put in the peppers, but just let me know what dish has them so I can avoid it like the plague. Maybe I'll even reward you for a job well done later."
He had no intentions in following through with the offer, but the way the girl stammered and ran off without a second glance was a beautiful sight. If he wasn't allowed to play with the staff, then who could he play with? Besides, Hiroki wasn't around at that particular moment, which meant he had to think of things to keep him occupied and entertained on his own.
Speaking of Hiroki, he was probably waiting for him. If Akihiko didn't want to end up under the slighter man's admonishing gaze again, he'd need to hurry and get his ass to where it belonged. Oh, the life of a monarch was not what he wanted.
Shinobu, when it got right down to it, had the capacity to be patient.
The problem today, however, was that he had already practiced being patient for nearly four years, and he was only human. His store of the virtue had to run out sometime, after he used up all of his fortitude on not acting earlier. A further accelerant was the fact that his sister and brother-in-law were at agonizing last, lawfully separated, and now free to remarry or pursue other interests. Shinobu hoped to be Miyagi's new interest, and additionally, his re-, and most importantly final marriage.
The teen had been madly, passionately in adoration of the older man from even before the first wedding, but the event in question had rendered him unable to profess his love nor act on it until this very day.
This afternoon found Shinobu loitering out front in the antechamber that led to the Great Hall where the Crown Prince held his hearings. He was going to ask permission to become betrothed to, and therefore propose to, Miyagi. He hadn't yet consulted with his intended, but it wasn't entirely necessary to do so given the laws of the realm. He had one great advantage on his side - he was from a very respectable family.
Whatever he might have opined about his family members, that he was a Takatsuki was, in of itself, a lucky thing, as it granted him a lot of privileges. His father was the king's Minister of Education, and his mother was from another noble house. He had been told that her great worth at the time of his parent's marriage had been a large dowry, as she had had a brother to inherit the main estate. Nothing more romantic than that. Shinobu also had one sibling, an older sister, but because he had been born a male his claim took precedence over hers, a fact which deep down he had to admit tickled his sense of righteousness. If it had been the other way around, he would have been rather stifled by duty to her. As it stood, he could make the moves that he wanted.
Outsiders wouldn't really understand, but he didn't get along with Risako at all, and so he would have hated for her to have a one-up on him to lord over his head (not like she didn't already try such devices, being the elder sibling). They'd had a rocky relationship from the time that Shinobu was twelve. He couldn't for the life of him remember how it had begun, but the biggest factor on his end was when he was around fifteen, and she had gone out and married the one person who he liked for himself.
Shinobu was not the type of youth to have many 'crushes.' He didn't fall for a different face every week. In fact before he had come upon Miyagi, he could not remember a single time that he had liked another human in that way. He had always been interested in other pursuits. So when the incident had occurred, it had been a pretty powerful blow to the young lordling. To think that the one time he opened his heart, his chances were dashed was incredibly disconcerting. Even more so was the possibility of the marriage actually working. Of seeing them grow old together, happy, raising a family - passing him right by. Imaginings such as those had depressed him, but it had soon become apparent, almost a year in, that theirs was no love match.
His hope had stirred, he had resolved himself to endure, and to be steadfast. Today, that waiting paid a dividend.
Putting that all aside though, the reason his lineage was valuable in his romantic pursuit was that the law clearly stated that if a person of a higher status proposes to one of lower status, they have to agree to marry. Another factor was the permission of the Crown Prince or of the King himself. With that as a back-up, then "no" really could not be said. However, if the lower status party were to petition for an annulment of their engagement, then that was another story entirely.
Shinobu with all his heart did not want to have to take these considerations into play, but they existed all the same. Actually, he didn't think he would have the stomach to force Miyagi if it happened that the man were to refuse to accept him. Convince him to fall in love? Yes. Push him to marry without his consent? Assuredly not.
Gazing ahead, the boy spied a married couple who were first in line before him to see Prince Akihiko about a petition. The pair consisted of a shorter man with raven hair and large childlike eyes who seemed to be around Shinobu's age, and a towering cinnamon-hued brunet with an almost sparkling aura surrounding him. Though he wasn't looking per se, he could tell that the second must attract a lot of eyes to him, as the man had traditionally handsome features, and wore a calm smile that made him seem eminently approachable.
Shinobu didn't recognize the duo from anywhere, but perhaps he would if he were one of the courtesans who came to these hearings regularly, to fill up on gossip or suck up to the royal heir. As a large number of his classmates were wont to do. Or perhaps these two didn't attend the hearings either. He had no idea about their life.
The latter male was pushing a double stroller, rocking the contraption slowly backward and forward in a lulling motion. When Shinobu peered closer, he could see two sleeping infants riding in the stroller; both appeared to be girls by their outfits. They were swathed in matching pink velvet gowns with a similarly colored blanket tucked in over top of them. Both babies were wearing miniature lace caps over their head to keep warm, and Shinobu's heart started at the adorable sight without warning.
Someday he wanted to have children of his own and this was only cementing his determination to do so.
He turned his gaze away, only intending to wait his turn and not bother anyone, but he was feeling antsy, and that seemed to draw the others' attention onto him naturally. One moment he was hanging around, staring down at his feet, and the next, he heard the swivel sound of wheels coming his way, and saw the taller man from one place up in the queue rolling he and his daughters a bit closer.
"Good afternoon!" the man called out jovially, sweeping Shinobu a light bow.
Surprised, Shinobu made a polite return prostration and then straightened up again. When he looked, the black-haired male was headed their way, sporting a look of confusion that equaled the teen's at present. All in all, the second man appeared uncomfortable to be here, and Shinobu wondered if this wasn't perhaps his first trip to a hearing. Or at the very least, he didn't frequent the court.
"Good afternoon," Shinobu echoed, and then, figuring he should at least introduce himself, he gave out his name.
"I am Yukina Kou," the cinnamon hair responded, "and this is my husband, Kisa-san."
At that, the named spouse rolled his eyes, as if Yukina had said something silly, and spoke. "It is nice to meet you, Takatsuki-kun. Waiting for the Prince to roll out of bed and hear your petition?" he quipped, eyes dancing mildly, yet noticeably to the blond youth.
"Yes, I suppose," he answered guardedly. "It is late in the day, isn't it?"
Kisa nodded his head thoughtfully. "Three is the end of a day for some people, so yeah, it's pretty late. Kind of makes you wonder what Prince Akihiko does with his days, if he won't show up until this time to see the world and come out to say hello. Anyway... so what are you here for today?"
Just then, one of the babies in the stroller made a quiet mewling sound, having just woken up from her rest. Both parents flicked their eyes to her on instinct, but Yukina was the one to walk around the contraption and see what was amiss. He unbuckled her from where she was encapsulated next to her slumbering twin and hoisted her into his arms, bouncing her slightly and smiling down at her.
"Did you have a good nap, Kana-chan?" Yukina cooed, and somehow the tone didn't make him sound ridiculous, like it might have with anyone else but this sparkling prince type fellow.
"Ah, Takatsuki-kun, these are our daughters, Kana-chan and Rui-chan. That is, if the Prince approves of their names. That's what we're here today to petition about."
"So you had twins?" Shinobu directed this question at Kisa, as he was clearly the more delicate of the two.
"I did, actually!" Yukina stepped in, smiling luminously, not seeming perturbed at the mistake on Shinobu's part like Kisa showed he was.
"I was so excited when I learned that I had conceived Kisa-san's child. And then, we found out there were two of them growing together, and that was a beautiful day as well. Of course when our babies were born was the ultimate highlight of my life."
"All I could really think was 'thank Kami they're girls,'" Kisa interjected quietly. "I don't know what I would have done with a boy. Things are already so pink in my everyday life that it would have been a major shock to the system."
"You are a wonderful father, Kisa-san, and that isn't dependent on gender."
"Careful now," Kisa finally perked up and grinned at his enthusiastic husband, "because I don't care what you say, Yukina. We are not having a third one."
"We'll see," Yukina replied contrarily, but in an agreeable sort of way.
Shinobu wondered errantly how many children he would want to have himself, and if they'd look like Miyagi or not. He hoped that they did, because he didn't really think his own looks were all that appealing.
He also hoped that he was able to have a son, because when he imagined it, he could easily see Miyagi teaching their boy about life, guiding him, and Shinobu thought that the old man might enjoy the experience. Boys were typically preferred to girls amongst the higher classes. For him it did not matter either way to be honest; he wanted both if it was his choice.
Thinking about this made yearn even more for the day that they were joined, and the youth clenched his hands into fists at his side, trying to suppress the urge a little longer. He needed to keep his composure and make the Prince agree to his petition, or his chances would be much lower of having his dreams come true.
"So, Takatsuki-kun, what did you say your petition was concerning?"
"Good morning, old man."
"Good afternoon, your highness." Hiroki's lip quirked ever so slightly at the honorary title.
It was a routine for them to give that greeting, even though it had never realistically been a morning hour when they came together to hold council. Hiroki was his most trusted adviser, and the two had grown up by each other's side. The prickly lordling was descended from a long line of statesmen; among his genealogy were many Lord Protectors and Ministers of various designations, and the twenty-four year old did not tarnish the family name by his own considerable brilliance. To Akihiko, he was indispensable.
"Well, shall we crack on?" he put forth, an amused cant to his voice.
"Yes, so some people can go back to important work."
"Hiroki, you always sound so displeased to be here. Can it be that you've found some other passion in life that exceeds hearing these requests?" Akihiko rattled off dramatically, an undercurrent of sarcasm detectable. He knew very well that neither of them enjoyed this part of the day very much, but in Akihiko's mind at least he had the fiery brunet around to make things a little less humdrum. Also, to listen closely when he might have only feigned interest in someone's petition and not recorded a word they had said. Hiroki was meticulous and could be entrusted with tasks like that.
Hiroki scoffed at the notion. "I don't have time to find another passion in life, because I am already rather occupied with looking after a certain overgrown toddler so that he doesn't lose interest and wander off in the middle of the proceedings. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
Akihiko ignored the barb, kept it at that, and gingerly seated himself in his throne to begin the session.
After all, it was true that the earlier one began, the earlier one would finish. Perhaps the time intervening might drag on slowly, but in the space of actual hours each hearing lasted the same amount. Then he could get back to his authorial meanderings.
Ideas were swirling around his consciousness. He was considering a broken leg for the protagonist. It was serious enough to merit the healing time during which the love interest could grow to open up to the main character, but not so serious that it would impair him for life. A tragedy was not something he needed to be penning at this time.
Akihiko was thinking that perhaps this injury could be taken on behalf of the love interest, which would be why they felt obligated to care for the protagonist at all. 'Yes, that might serve...'
"First, for a petition of naming, Yuki- Ah, pardon me, Your Highness; there has been a change in the order of appointments, it seems. So now, seeking a petition for betrothal, Shinobu of house Takatsuki."
Into the great hall stepped a youth with straw-blond hair and luminous gray eyes, tall, with a slender body that was hugged by the tailored uniform he was wearing. By the looks of it, it appeared the boy attended studies under one of the renowned tutors here in the capital. Due to the time of the hearing, he must have just been released from classes before traveling this way.
Akihiko raised a brow at the teen's serious expression as he approached, and as soon as he had settled and made the customary bow, the prince inquired, "Just how old are you, Takatsuki-kun?"
"I am eighteen, Your Highness."
"And already you are wanting to get engaged? That seems hasty of you."
"I have been in love with the person for a few years, my prince, so I don't think it is that hasty."
The boy's pointed face seemed to be holding off a petulant look, and that appealed to Akihiko in a droll way. He found that, despite himself, he was curious to know the story behind this. It might end up being the same trite tale, of a teenage couple jumping on the marriage boat, possibly the girl even being pregnant which sped up the process, but there was a chance it wouldn't be. As an author, he did enjoy a captivating story where he could find it.
"Do your parents approve?"
"It doesn't matter if they do!" Shinobu responded quickly, a flush of color rising in his cheeks. "I'm old enough to make my own choice. I won't let them choose for me. It's my destiny."
Akihiko's lip twitched amusedly.
"And who is it you would like permission to marry? You know it is not necessarily required to have this permission. Only after a betrothal agreement has been made between you and your intended, then that would be proper time to make a petition..."
"I will marry Miyagi Yoh." Shinobu's voice rang and quavered, though he surreptitiously glanced around, as if to challenge anyone to refute him.
In the chair next to - and slightly below - Akihiko, Hiroki's eyes narrowed pensively.
On occasion, he worked with Miyagi at the capitol's university, and he was fairly certain he had never seen anything to indicate that this boy was infatuated with the man. Never once while he had been there had Shinobu been around. Though, it could be that he just wasn't there enough. Truthfully he hadn't been at the university much over the past few months, so maybe it was a recent problem. Being Akihiko's adviser was time consuming. They spent a great portion of the day together; not that Hiroki minded, given his inclinations toward the man.
Still, Hiroki recognized the boy's surname. Takatsuki. A respected noble house.
Was he completely off, or wasn't that the professor's ex-wife's surname? He was certain it was.
Hiroki started a new page on the ledger he kept with him, and wrote down this observation before handing the note over to the prince. It was more convenient to pass a note than to step out of the room every time he needed to discuss a point with his royal companion.
Akihiko eyed Shinobu once before scanning the paper, taking in the words. To Hiroki's slight dismay, the camber of the prince's lips deepened. The information, rather than becoming a concern, became a reason to delve further in his investigations.
It was times like these when Hiroki thought to himself that Akihiko desperately needed more hobbies.
"You are aware there is a large age gap between your ex brother-in-law and yourself?" Akihiko put forth. At the 'brother-in-law', Shinobu outright grimaced, but he stood his ground nonetheless.
"Yes. I've known that from the beginning."
"Mm. Then, have you thought about who will have the children? He is after all, of lower standing..."
Several of the surrounding courtesan's ears pricked up at this, and a few, mostly females, began to titter their own guesses amongst themselves. Shinobu eyed a few of them peripherally, embarrassed. He could sense them sizing him up, and it did nothing to boost his confidence. Maybe he wasn't that much to look at, but they didn't have to gawk at him! He was aware that he wasn't too spectacular, but he at least was willing to make this sacrifice for his future husband. It would make him happy to have Miyagi's children.
"I will, of course!" he muttered resolutely.
"I am sure," Akihiko began, drawing upon his own experience, "that your father would want you to at least attend university, as his heir. Would this not impede upon your studies? Having a spouse, and children is not something to be taken on lightly; it eats at the majority of a person's days, and so I hope you have given it some rumination. If not, I am afraid I cannot in good conscience grant your request. You are young and should think carefully about how you want to spend your youth."
"I have given it thought, your highness. If I have a baby I'll go to school for as long as I can, and then take time off before resuming my degree. I'm not concerned about it."
Akihiko gave the little lordling a last glance over. He did seem resolute in his desires, and if he could stand fast even under this questioning, then perhaps that meant that it was the proper decision to grant his request. Akihiko made his choice.
"Very well, Takatsuki-kun, I will allow your petition."
"Thank you, my prince." Shinobu bowed his head, seeming relieved. As soon as he could, he made his exit, not sticking around to hear any of the other cases.
After the teenager came a procession of mundane petitions. One of naming, and a few concerning business transactions, including one revised will. Akihiko heard them all in turn, and made a final ruling one way or the other on each. It was truly nothing out of the ordinary, and he spent most of his time and attention stewing on other affairs internally.
Toward the end of the session though, some familiar faces surfaced, and that necessitated his attention. Neither of the two following petitions were held by people he cared for very much.
"For a petition of naming, Lord Isaka Ryuuichirou and his spouse, Isaka Kaoru."
Isaka led their eldest son tightly by the hand as they walked into the Great Hall, the very tips of their fingers linked. He wore a sharp-edged smile, every inch the protective father. His gaze dared those around to so much as look at them in the wrong way, and their name would go on his list. And if Akihiko were trying to be impartial, he knew that there were some nobles that looked down on the man for having bore his commoner husband's child, when such a thing was considered 'unusual.' Some simply couldn't stomach the man, and that sentiment, the prince could identify with.
It was always difficult to ascertain the lord's mood, as he was the type to grin invitingly whilst plotting mischief in his mind. He put on many playful airs, but Akihiko knew personally just how calculating Isaka could be, beneath the skin.
The older child was his other father in miniature, with dark sandy hair and muted russet eyes - though he looked out through them with an expression of wonder that was not customary of either of his parents. Isaka Hideyoshi was sweet-faced and though Akihiko was not interested in the concept of having his own offspring, he did so love the simple innocence of children. It reminded him of that which he had sometimes felt he lacked in his own upbringing, and so he watched the boy stroll along. He would much rather deal with kids than with a noble like Hideyoshi's father.
Asahina followed behind them with a governess and the new infant, composed as ever. The prince's memory was like a steel trap, and he commented to himself that the man looked far better for the wear than his spouse had been with the first son. Perhaps there was something in the old wives' tale that when it came to men and childbearing, sturdier bodies fared better. With women, it was said to come down to hip width.
The posse drew up close to the throne, all bowing their head and waiting patiently to be acknowledged.
Akihiko gave a nod and motioned for one of them to state their petition. He was glad that he only had to go through the charade for an hour or two a day; any longer and it would be tiresome, and the prince was already starting to lose his patience. He was ready to return to his own chambers and take up things that interested him more than this hearing session.
Isaka let go of Hideyoshi's hand, and motioned for the governess to step forward with the baby as if to showcase him.
"As you can see, Your Highness, Asahina has been kind enough to present me with a son finally, after I so graciously gave him one four years ago," Isaka lauded.
Akihiko noted with amused indifference how the lord continued to call his husband by the man's surname from before their marriage. It seemed to be akin to a nickname for the businessman, and the cogs of his brain turned and clanked, stowing the notion away for later. In a way it was an endearing practice, something that might serve very well for the characters of the novel the prince was penning currently. He could make use of it.
"And what would you like to name the child?"
"Kichirou is the name we have selected, Your Highness."
Akihiko nodded at this. In reality, it was all the same to him. Because he wasn't thinking about it in the manner of a parent, names came and went without his truly liking or disliking them. So long as the name wasn't ridiculous, or inappropriate, he accepted them without question.
"You may use that name," he responded with a tone of finality. The less time he spent on it, the better. In any event, he only had one more petition left given that his allotted time period was almost over, and only one could be fit in that period.
Instead of leaving like others, Isaka and his group shuffled off to the side of the hall, presumably to watch the last hearing. That in itself might have tipped Akihiko off about who was coming in, as whilst waiting outside, Isaka would have been privy to who was after him, but at the time the prince wasn't contemplating anything very carefully, his goal of leaving in sight.
"And now enter the next subjects for the Prince's hearing, who seek a petition for marriage. Announcing Lord Usami Haruhiko..."
The prince's keen violet eyes narrowed. It was rare that he was forced to meet with his half-brother, and he had always preferred it that way. To tell truth, the two, though they shared their father's blood, shared little else in common, and their natures, when together, caused any peace to implode.
Akihiko had to acknowledge that this entrance surprised him; he had not known that Haruhiko was courting anyone, and it would be fascinating to see what, or rather who, had caught the stoic man's eye, if only satisfy his highness' strange sense of curiosity. He drew himself up to full height in the throne where he was seated, and listened closely to catch the name of the would-be fiancé, or fiancée, if his brother truly wished to throw him a curve ball.
"And his intended groom, Takahashi-"
His heart roiled, plummeted, and quite nearly ceased to beat. In Hiroki's, something was born.
A/N: Please, let me know what you thought of this first chapter in a review :) It is my birthday today, and a review would be a lovely present!
This story will be conducted in several points of view, and will include all couples of Junjou Romantica and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. Chapter lengths will vary, and there may be chapters that are set in the past (such as with the Nostalgia couple). I will clearly state when that happens.
Next Chapter's Title: "With No Love To Confess"