"Aren't they just adorable together?" the queen of the Southern Kingdom asked the Western queen. Both of the queens were having tea in the garden, watching their 2-year-old children play with each other.
The princess of the East was sitting there, watching a butterfly fly about, and trying to catch it when it got close to her reach. Her pigtails were swaying gently by the breeze. Her green eyes shone with laughter and delight.
The prince of the West just gazed at her with his deep green eyes in wonder. He seemed to be captured by her.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he crawled towards the princess and shoved her down the ground. He laughed.
"Heiji! That is not polite and kind!" his mother stood up in anger, but her friend stopped her.
"Let's just see what happens next." In reluctance, the queen sat back down.
The princess was crying with the top of her lungs. Prince Heiji looked at her in bewilderment and began to cry because he didn't know what to do.
"I think they will have a rough future ahead of them." Both the queens laughed as they asked a servant to give the prince a rubber ball. He stopped crying, took the ball, and gave it to the princess. She quieted down and took it from him, her face shining as her lips broke into a wide smile.
"So, what's the name of your daughter?" asked the Western queen when the kids were sleeping soundly on their mother's laps.
"Her name is Princess Toyama Kazuha of the Southern Kingdom." Her mother said fondly as she snuggled her child. Her friend smiled at both of them as the Western queen stroke her son's black hair. Her friend had always longed for a daughter and now she had what she wished for.
"That is just perfect!" Heiji's mother clapped her hands in delight, "King Heiji and Queen Kazuha of the South-Western Kingdom! It fits them, doesn't it?"
Both the queens laughed and talked about their future, oblivious of the tragedy that would soon befall the Southern Kingdom and the royal family.
"Dear, you have to come and read this. It just arrived a few minutes ago." King Heizo beckoned to his wife, who was carrying the prince in her arms who was crying uncontrollably a few hours ago. He was playing with the locket that belonged to the princess.
"What is it, my love?" she took the letter from his hands and looked over it. As she did, her face grew stark white as her hands trembled. "This can't be…"
Then prince Heiji began to cry again. Both of the parents looked at him in surprised sadness.
"I guess he can feel it, can't he?" the asked the queen. She nodded as she gave back the letter and soothed her child.
"I suppose so. Before anyone else, he realized his first bestfriend is gone forever."
"Please mother! I don't need wives!" Prince Heiji complained to her in the throne room.
"That is ridiculous, my child. You are already 18 and well fitted for marrying princesses." The queen of the West looked at him sternly.
"The only princess in this land is the princess of the North, Ran-hime." He pointed out. "And she is only interested in Shinichi, Prince of the East."
"There are still plenty of beautiful royal maidens out there. And they don't have to be all from this land." The queen stood up and proceeded to leave.
"I will give you three months, my son. If you have not found a young lady that you are sure that you love, then I will prepare a ball and have you wed a princess that I will choose for you."
Then the queen left.
"Why is she doing this to me?" Heiji grumbled as he headed for the pantry in the kitchen. Once he got there, he opened it and began to take out 2 apple pies, 3 blueberry muffins, and 4 slices of dark chocolate cake.
"Why can't she see that I don't want to marry just some random person? Why can't I just have some fun?"
"Why don't you have some fun, without stealing the food from the kitchen?" a voice spoke up from behind him.
He slowly turned around and looked at his interrogator.
"Don't you know who you're talking to?"
"Yeah, I'm talking to a thief. And a lousy one too."
The girl was frowning at him, her too-long bangs hiding her face. He could see that she was attractive-looking. Her brown hair was tied up into a ponytail, held by a black ribbon. Her fair skin was a nice contrast with Heiji's brown skin. She was covered in in dust and grime; she probably works by the chimney sweeps.
He looked at her in boredom. He lifted the pie in-front of his face and took a big bite on it. he chewed stubbornly and walked past her, feeling her gaze burning at him behind his back.
"Teme…" she got a mop and swung it at him. He caught it, but she had already slid down and whipped her legs beneath him, causing him to fall. He crashed down the ground as the pantry girl (as he began to call her) caught the snacks neatly on a plate.
"Humph. That's what you get when you steal food from the kitchen." She put them back and locked it. Then she left with her head held high, leaving a shocked and openmouthed prince on the floor.
"Who does she think she is, striking a person from the royal family? She's an idiot, that ahou."
He grumbled to himself as he kicked a pebble down the path towards the garden. After a while, he sat down by the stream in the middle of the garden. It was peaceful and quiet. However, his head was in turmoil.
He kept wondering about the pantry girl. Who was she? What was her name? How come he never saw her before? Why did he get the feeling that she was something different?
The unanswered questions made him frustrated. He hated not knowing. That girl was really mysterious. He sighed and lay down on the grass, closing his eyes, the wind sweeping his black hair around his head.
- Flashback –
"Da…i…su…ki…" a small hand patted his head. Two pigtails were tied up on her head.
"Da…isuki?" he asked. The hand took off a locket from her neck and put it around him.
"Daisuki…dayo…" then she laughed loud and clear. He looked at the locket, then at her.
"Daisuki Dayo!" he grinned and giggled along with her.
- End of flashback –
The prince opened his eyes and looked at the wide open sky. That dream appeared to him again. It had been going on for quite a while.
He had asked his mom who the girl was, yet all that he got was her looking at him with sad eyes, telling him that he would understand when he was older.
"Why isn't anyone telling me anything?" he asked himself as he took out the locket from around his neck, under his shirt. It was silver, adorned with simple green gems on it. He opened it and looked at the baby girl that stared back at him in amusement.
It was the same girl in his dream, and yet he never knew her name. All he could remember was her two pigtails, the clear, sweet laughter and her startling green eyes that shone like a rare jewel amongst the pile of rocks.
He was about to doze off again, when he heard someone calling his name. Groaning, he got up and brushed off the dust from his clothes. That stupid annoying Easterner had come back again.
"Hello Heiji. Did you have a nice nap?" Prince Kudo Shinichi of the Eastern Kingdom smirked as he saw the tufts grass on his friend/rival's hair. "You've got quite a nice hat there."
"Whatever." Heiji shook his hair to get rid of the clumps of green on top. "Why did you come here anyway?"
"I heard your mom is planning on making an arranged marriage for you in three months unless you found a girl you liked." The eastern prince grinned at him, he blue eyes laughing. "Just wanted to see how you can find a girl that you haven't made fun of or refused yet."
"Urusai!" Heiji was red-faced and annoyed. It was true that he always turned away from the ladies who loved him. Yes, they were pretty but he didn't feel that spark when he was with them. "It's because I already have eyes for that one girl. I just have to find her, that's all."
"Is she the one in that dream you kept having?" Shinichi asked him.
"Ah. That's the one." Heiji looked sadly at the horizon. "I asked the queen about her, but she didn't seem to want to answer that question."
Shinichi went to him and patted his shoulder. "All in good time my friend, all in good time."
"Yeah, you're right." Heiji turned to him, smiling cheekily. "So, where is that Northern beauty that you kept talking about? Did she come here along with you?"
It was the other prince's turn to go beet-red. Heiji could clearly see that he was in love with her.
"S…she said…to w-which she w…would come t-tomorrow…" he stuttered, shuffling from foot to foot. Heiji was grinning from ear to ear.
"Did you ask her yet?" the western prince asked innocently. Shinichi looked up sharply.
"Which question?" Shinichi asked slowly, careful of how he would react.
"The proposal question!"
"WHAT!?'' Heiji could see him panicking. "Idontknowwhattosaytohershemi ghtsayyesornoidontknowherrep lyevenifigottheringandthedre ssandprocessionreadyalready…"
Heiji was laughing so hard, he had to clutch his stomach to stop it from hurting. Shinichi was completely red, from head to foot. "Alright Shinichi, I got the message! You are in love with her!"
"Me? Falling in love with her?" Shinichi looked at him. Then it clicked in his head. He turned a darker shade of red. "P…probably, I guess…"
"I knew it." Heiji grinned as he saw the eastern prince humming.
"Oh yeah, Heiji. To return you the favor from last time, I'll join you in asking your mom about that girl with the pigtails."
"Yep! Besides, if we find her, you can finally be reunited with your first love!"
"When you put it like that, it makes me think twice of wanting to find her." Heiji muttered.
Heiji looked at the sad look on his mother's face. She looked really regretful for telling him. That can't be, right?
"W…What do you mean?" A pained look flashed upon his face.
"Do you know the history of the Southern Kingdom?"
"You mean the topic that you didn't really like the tutors to teach me? The part where there was a big fire that burned the castle and everyone in it fifteen years ago?"
"Yes." His mother looked at him in great grief. "The queen of the Southern Kingdom was my bestfriend. We were planning for you and her child's future. That was three days before that accident happened."
"Masaka…then that girl that I dreamt about…"
"Yes, she was princess Toyama Kazuha of the Southern Kingdom."
"I'm sorry Heiji, but also she, perished in the fire."
I know, I know! You hate cliffhangers! I hate them too, but it's fun doing it though *laughs evilly*
Oh well, you better wait for the next chapter! It'll get more interesting! I promise!
Thanks for reading! XPP *leaves stage*