47th: Kings and Queens
Summary: A promise which was made when they were children. A promise he broke against his will and a promise she wished that he had kept. A second chance came around - finally.
They were children once. Innocent little children who liked playing the in the garden of the castle and who also liked to skip their lessons – for the prince of Edolas and his chosen childhood friend they were really normal children.
The blue-haired boy and his red-haired friend were currently hiding from their teacher in an empty storage room, sitting under a table and trying to keep quiet. The girl's head had fallen onto the boy's shoulder and he had wrapped her coat around her.
"You know, Er-chan, when I will be king, you will be my queen," he suddenly announced as he grinned at her. "I will never leave you. I promise, alright?"
She looked at him, at his bright smile and his aura of cheerfulness and optimism. "Sure," she nodded as she hastily wiped away a stray tear. "We will be together – forever."
"That's a nice idea," he grinned as he handed her a handkerchief. "I made up a new story with my cousin's help yesterday when you had to attend your sister's wedding and we couldn't go with you. It's the story about a hero called Mystogan and his beautiful partner Ruby and how they save the world from evil things. My aunt said that it's an amazing story."
"Can you tell me?" the girl asked as she bit her lower lip. "Please!"
"Sure," he said as he hugged her tightly. "Alright, Mystogan and Ruby somehow got lost and are in a foreign world and so…"
He watched her as she moved through the room, dusting of flat surfaces as she looked back at him every few seconds – just like she was making sure that he was still there … that he hadn't left her behind again. To him, she was still the girl she had been so many years ago but when he had left, he had taken the only light in her life with him and so she had grown up to be cold and dangerous. He had broken a promise without wanting to. She had only asked him to stay with her and he had promised that he would never leave her but then he had been forced to break this promise.
Today, so many years later, it seemed like the old friendship was withering like a flower in autumn and he really knew that he had to do something in order to keep her as his best friend. He silently rose from his chair where he had been waiting and rested his hands on her shoulder. He had to be careful because right now, the last thing he wanted was a broken nose and blood all over his white shirt. "Er-chan," he said calmly as he sighed. "Would you please relax for a moment?"
She looked at him. "I am trying to make sure that no one kills you mere hours before you are made king," she said as she crossed her arms. "The sun is nearly down as you can see. It will start very soon. We should get ready for this."
"Er-chan…" he sighed, patting her shoulder. "Look around: I am perfectly fine. C'mon, relax a little bit before you puke all over the crown. We both know that your stomach tends to rebel against you when you are too tensed."
She looked at him. "That's exactly why I haven't eaten anything since yesterday morning," she said, probably a little bit too proudly.
"You are a fool!" he hissed as he grabbed her wrist. "C'mon, we will be back in time."
"W-where are we going? You cannot leave now!" she hissed back at him.
"You will faint because you haven't eaten anything. We had this before," he replied as he dragged her down the stairs. "And the ceremony cannot begin without me anyway."
"W-we will get in trouble for this one!" the red-haired girl said as she followed her friend down the stairs that led to the kitchens. "We are banned from here, remember?"
"Ah, don't worry, Er-chan," he replied amused. "I am the prince and we won't get in trouble for being here. If anything, we will get extra cake just because we look nice today."
She snorted as she looked at her reflection for a moment. She looked girly and she hated it but her mother had asked her to wear this dress and her mother could be quite scary if she wanted to. "If you say so…" she muttered.
"Ultear promised that she'd cover for us up at the hall," the prince grinned, momentarily remembering his distanced cousin who had come to visit for the Winter Ball.
Erza snorted. The little princess with her beautiful indigo hair and her moonbeam pale face was the reason why she was in a bad mood since she had heard that the only other person Prince Jellal would ever talk to without having to be forced to first would attend the ball too. It wasn't even that she hated Ultear because the other girl was a tough one too and pretty much the most awesome person she knew but – she was jealous because Ultear was so pretty and so ladylike when she actually bothered to behave that Erza simply had to be mad at her.
To sneak into the kitchen was a little bit more difficult than it used to be when they had been children because the security had been tightened for the ceremony and on their way they even spotted the infamous Shadow Gear which had been Fairy Tail's strongest team. Jellal who remembered sweet, kind Earthland-Levy from his time in the other guild sometimes wondered how she could have such a rough counterpart but then again, there was a difference between Erza Knightwalker and Erza Scarlet as well.
"Alright, we are nearly there," Jellal whispered as he opened a secret passage. "Look, some things are still the same – such as me getting you to break rules and stuff like this."
She glared at him. "If word gets out that I am actually nice to you when we don't have an audience, I will personally behead you," she said but the mischievous glint in her eyes stayed the same as it had been when they had been kids and while he had been the mastermind behind all the pranks they had pulled, she had been the innocent smile to cover up that they were planning something. To hang out with him – even if it was technically her duty – made her remember those better days.
"Dutifully noted," he smirked as they finally reached the kitchen. "Let me guess … The most honourable judge will keep talking for quite a while 'cause she's probably too happy that I found my way home to realise that she is annoying her audience…"
"Your aunt loves you and let her enjoy her time onstage. She has been hiding for a long time … your father wasn't nice to his sister-in-law after all."
"…you aren't surprised at all, are you?" the red-haired woman asked sharply as she looked at the black-haired woman who sat on the other side of the table, one hand lazily rested on the hilt of a sword but it was obviously more than a precaution than a sign of laziness.
"How could I, Erza?" the woman asked tiredly. "I saw this coming."
"Princess Ultear, would you mind to tell me what exactly you are thinking right now?"
"I think many things and while I am not keen on sharing all of them, I believe that I should share one of my thoughts with you, Erza," the princess said with a faint smirk. "You either were in love with him when he disappeared or you fell in love with him after he was gone. No matter which way your heart chose, you are in love with him."
"You are ridiculous. The time you spend at the court greatly mellowed your brain."
"And yet, I am the only one who ever managed to defeat you in a fair spar to the day," the black-haired princess grinned. "I don't get why you keep denying it like this anyway, Erza. There are worse things than to be in love with a childhood friend. And when he comes home … I am sure that he will protect you. No one will be able to hurt you when he is back."
"Should he ever return, it will be a civil war. You know that too, Ultear."
"Of course I do but I know where my loyalties lie," she replied smoothly. "And if you are honest, it's already war out there. Even you have to admit that the king is going too far with his hatred against the guilds. Magic shouldn't belong to a single person."
"You know that these words are treason, do you?"
"Sweetie, and do you really think that I fear banishment?" the princess asked as she crossed her arms. "When I was a little child, when we were children, we used to sing the songs Jellal's mother taught us. Sometimes, I remember these songs."
"The music is gone for a long time, Ultear," the redhead snapped.
"Don't tell me that you aren't hearing it as well," the slightly older soldier grinned before she slipped away, into the shadows and out of sight and mind.
"Tsk, whoever doesn't know you wouldn't have expected this to happen but I know better than that, huh?" a familiar voice sighed as Ultear slipped out of the shadows. "One might think that you are still children, kids."
Jellal had heard that she had returned from wherever his father had banned her to but he hadn't been prepared for this. Ultear had been the epitome of a classical beauty with her long black hair and her pale face. Her hair was short, shorter than even Erza's and her face was marred by a red scar that reached from her ear to her chin. But she still smirked the way she had before and as she winked, he couldn't help but blush because she knew. She had to know – because she had always known.
"Sneaking around while my mother holds her speech?" the princess went on. "You two surely got naughty without me around to control you."
"Ultear," Jellal growled as he tried to get her to shut up. "Would you mind to leave?"
She rolled her eyes. "Touchy, touchy, dearest King," she said amused but disappeared.
"So she isn't using magic for that trick," Erza muttered as she frowned slightly.
"What do you mean?" the blue-haired man asked confused.
"I was always wondering how she does this disappearing-in-the-shadows-thing … especially since sometimes there weren't any shadows to begin with when she disappeared on us. But without any magic around, she cannot use it for her mysterious act."
"Yeah … one day, we might end up uncovering her secret. Anyway, we should get back before the ceremony reaches the point when I am supposed to enter," he said as he held out his hand. "I hope you can run in high-heels, general."
She glared at him as she took his hand. "Be happy that I didn't kill you yet," she said.
"If you kill me now, I will never get to fulfil my promise," he shrugged. "And you will never get to hear how the story of the heroes Mystogan and Ruby ended." He gathered his entire courage and wrapped his arms around her before he planted a kiss onto her lips. "You do know that I love you, Er-chan, so don't be mean now, yes?" he muttered as he pulled back.
"Interesting enough that this is the second time that you end up kissing me," she stated. "It seems like I am not scary enough at the moment…"
"Nah, you just don't want to kill your fiancé," he said with a wink.
"While I know that the king is allowed to promote people as he sees it fitting, I cannot remember that he's also allowed to decide whom he wants to marry without asking first."
"I asked you a long time ago," he said. "And you do remember this as well as I do, Erza."