Notes: Hello, lovelies! I recently got into Magi and fell in love with the SinJa pairing, and was absolutely thrilled to see such a huge fanbase for a side pairing, which is usually not the case. This pairing has some surprisingly well-written and lengthy fics. Nevertheless, it never hurts to grow some more, so here's my addition to the fandom. :) Enjoy!
This is un-betaed, so let me know of any mistakes!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction written for fun, not for profit. No copyright infringement or slandering of characters, actors or any related persons is intended.
Whenever people see him, they either shy away immediately or attempt to strike up conversation before watching their good intentions whittle away until they finally give up and leave. Some leave scratching their heads and mumbling excuses while others walk away scowling and murmuring about ill manners and wasted time.
There's a common misconception that the large, intimidating Fanalis doesn't ever pay attention, that the only words that filter into his blockheaded mind are simple commands that seem better suited for dogs. Then they'd often come to the conclusion that he was one—one that served the King of Sindria quite faithfully. This was usually when they walk away after ten minutes of rallying conversation against a wall.
Only three people have ever seemed unbothered and content with his lack of responsiveness. One was the young Fanalis girl who shared his traits in speech. They trained comfortably in silence, communicating just as effectively as others would have with words.
The second was Sinbad, who was the first to defeat him in the gladiator ring. The other had cocked a silly grin and rambled on about his travels, Masrur's abilities and spirit, and how he should join up and become his comrade.
And so he did.
The last one was Ja'far, whom he met a year after his travels with Sinbad. The other boy was not at all what he had expected from listening to Sinbad's one thousand and one stories about the 'adorable young boy'. The latter may have smiled sweetly at him upon introduction, but it was the piercing gaze that Masrur received that continues to sit firmly in his memory.
For years, the only ones who would ever talk to him for more than a span of ten minutes were Sinbad and Ja'far.
Sinbad had a tendency to ramble on at him, seemingly uncaring whether or not the bigger man was actually listening. But Masrur always did and Sinbad always knew. Most of the times, it was in a drunken stupor, filled with talk of women and complaints and complaints about women. Sometimes, it was in frustration and disappointment and worries. His duties as a King were overwhelming at times, and Masrur always did his best to help his liege shoulder the burden. And he did so by listening.
Ja'far, who was a very loud individual when it came to nagging Sinbad, was a very quiet person when it came to his own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, on the occasional quiet night, he would come sit by Masrur and just speak to him, asking him questions that he never expects answers to, sharing words that won't betray his true thoughts but reflect his worries, and at the end of it all, thanking him for the words he never said.
They know he listens.
But even they don't know just how much.
For every minute he spends in silence, he basks in the opportunity to listen and watch. People never think he knows or sees, because he's rarely said much to prove he did.
But he does.
Once, Sharrkan asked him to help throw the biggest birthday celebration ever known to Sindria for their king, filled with the most beautiful women in the kingdom, most exotic fruits and finest wines across the seven seas. Sharrkan had been astounded to find that Sinbad had never thrown a birthday banquet for himself before, given how ostentatious and lavishing his celebrations tended to be for even some of the smallest of holidays. The man never failed to find excuses to celebrate.
When the Heliohapt received a curt shrug from the Fanalis, he pouted and retreated away muttering about Masrur's lack of festive spirit.
But Masrur knew that for all the roaring laughs and splitting grins their king would have during the banquet, it's the late evening and early morning when the sun is preparing to rise, that Sinbad would cherish the most and have the smallest of smiles resting upon his lips as he tugs a fleece blanket over Ja'far's slumbering form beside him on the balcony.
Because it was this day sixteen years ago that a young boy had tried to kill another young boy. And it was the other young boy who convinced the young boy that there was more to life than death, and gained the most precious asset he would ever have that day in the form of a scrawny ten-year-old child.
They never told him, but over the years, he caught enough to know. He caught enough to know that they would spend the evening staring out across the dark expanse of the city under the blanket of shimmering stars, sitting on a simple tarp spread out on the cold tile of the balcony and reminisce on the past while ruminating on their present and future. Their exchanges of physical touch would be few, much less than their exchanges of thoughts and unsaid but understood feelings. Ja'far would be the first to doze off, eyes drifting shut even as lips continue to form incoherent words until he was asleep completely, breaths coming in slow and quiet. Sinbad would then let himself smile at the sight and enjoy a moment of solitude for himself as he silently thanks the heavens for all the events that have happened in his life to lead him to here. And not long after, he would finally lay down to accept the invitation of sleep.
Masrur knows there's no point in ever telling Sharrkan this, however, because why would he believe him? So he watches.
Everyone knows—or more like everyone sees and hears and feels—Ja'far's relentless nagging of their king. Morning—noon—would see the chief general stomping down the hall from the library to the king's chambers and hear the man scolding the other to wake up while gently but firmly advising the girl—or girls—of the previous evening back to her/their own quarters, wherever that may be. The afternoon would have the halls of the palace echoing lectures of responsibility and urgent kingly duties as Ja'far chases Sinbad everywhere and Sinbad tosses him excuses left and right in hopes of a distraction that never comes. Evenings would see Ja'far snatching away bottle after bottle of alcohol from Sinbad, because the dungeon-conquerer would always attempt to stow away a jug or two for midnight snacking with the ladies.
Everyone rolls their eyes when the palace support structures shake with all the ruckus that goes on day in and day out. The king's advisor is always the same, and the day that he doesn't nag their king till his tongue fell off would be the day the world ends and they're both dead and then some.
Only Masrur knows that at the end of some days, Ja'far worries that he is too harsh on the other man, that Sinbad will cease to like him, that Sinbad will hate him and most of all, that Sinbad will no longer need him.
Sometimes he struggles between his two selves. He gets torn between being Ja'far, the overbearing chief advisor of Sindria who is perpetually buried under a pile of paperwork and archives, and Ja'far, the cold-hearted and deadly efficient assassin who is responsible for the death of anyone who bears a threat to Sinbad or Sindria.
He knows that it displeases Sinbad and upsets him whenever the second Ja'far appears. He knows it upsets Sinbad because the other man once said it felt like Ja'far was slipping away from the reality where Sinbad and Sindria and all the others are and, like a well-oiled part fitting back into its role in a machine, naturally slipping into the persona of his ten-year-old self, whose mind would be filled with the face of his next target and one word: kill.
He didn't want to lose himself to that Ja'far again. Didn't want to see the shadow of disappointment and sorrow cross Sinbad's features. But ten year's of instincts are a difficult thing to suppress.
It's why he keeps himself so busy with the taxes, the records, the archives, the scriptures, the documents, the King himself and sometimes even the kitchen staff. For ten years, his purpose in life had been to end others'. It had taken another ten for him to realize it wasn't and that helping Sinbad could be. And Masrur knows it will be another ten before he realizes it already has been and always will be.
Whenever people think of the King of Sindria, the Conquerer of Seven Dungeons, the Master of Seven Djinns, they have the image of a dashing, brave, powerful, generous...womanizer. Masrur is sure that tales of Sinbad the Womanizer have preceded the tales of Sinbad of the Seven Seas. Stories of debauchery and passionate nights tend to spread like wildfire, and oftentimes attract women in droves while inciting the fury of their fathers in waves.
Sharrkan and Hinahoho love to exchange smirks whenever they see women fall over their feet to be in Sinbad's company. They love to wager on the numbers of the evening—one for the number of proposals of sexual nature he receives and another for the number of lucky ladies whose proposals worked. And then Sharrkan would try to join in the fun and grab some ladies for himself, only to be rejected, denied and firmly pushed away.
Yamuraiha always purses her lips disapprovingly but never lets her comments slip out. She simply settles for glaring at the boisterous laughter and inappropriate touches.
Spartos doesn't seem to care either way, although the slightest downturn of his lips could be seen marring his otherwise blank facials, and Drakon just shakes his head in exasperation while attempting to disassociate himself from the playboy emperor as much as possible.
Pisti has a tendency to turn pink at times, though from embarrassment or arousal, no one could ever tell.
Ja'far would roll his eyes and tell Sinbad to hurry and choose one of them already as his Queen. Heirs are important, and bastards unfortunately still didn't count.
Sinbad would scoff or snort and say something along the lines of how he already has his children in the form of his people, and that he has no need for a Queen—why settle for one when he can have so many? Besides, it would be quite the tragedy should mankind's most beloved male specimen be tied down to one individual. And as he says that, all the girls surrounding him would dissolve into a fit of giggles and rake their hands even more eagerly over his body.
Only Masrur notices the way Sinbad discreetly glances over at Ja'far as he tilts his head back lazily in a display of confidence and carefreeness, shifting to accommodate more eager females. Only Masrur notices the tension subtly recede from Ja'far's shoulders and the creases in his brows lessen just slightly. Only Masrur is able to interpret that sigh of futility and defeat as one of relief and contentment masked by exasperation. Only Masrur is able to read that briefly shared glance as Sinbad's way of telling Ja'far, 'I don't want a Queen. I just want you'.
And even if this is wordlessly said as Sinbad has his arms around seven or eight breathtakingly beautiful maidens, Ja'far understands. And Masrur sees that.
No one else does.
So when Ja'far mumbles some reprimand and finally leaves the King's chambers, all the other generals immediately think 'Poor Ja'far' and shake their heads at their king's rampant tendencies.
Only Masrur lets out the barest hint of a smile.
People think that Sinbad has Ja'far wrapped around his little pinky.
Masrur supposes he can't fault people seeing the way they do on that one. Ja'far does tend to have a bad habit of eventually caving into Sinbad's desires and letting him off the hook for a bit of paperwork, letting him off the hook for drinking just a little bit more alcohol, letting him off the hook for sleeping with a foreign dignitary's daughter who was betrothed to another country's prince...
...so it's not completely false. Sinbad does gain more leniency from Ja'far than anyone else. Then again, Sinbad also gains more scrutiny and lectures and supervision from Ja'far than anyone else, so perhaps those two cancel each other out.
In any case, Ja'far does have a soft spot for Sinbad and Sinbad alone. And it is without a doubt that the former assassin's loyalty whole-heartedly belongs to Sinbad.
But as for who has who wrapped around their little pinky, Masrur would be the first—and probably only—to say that it's Ja'far who has Sinbad wrapped.
While Sinbad may not show it in public or even in front of the other generals, he highly respects Ja'far's opinions. Rarely, if ever, does he do something important without consulting the thoughts of his chief general. So if Ja'far is against a decision Sinbad makes, Sinbad would be hard-pressed to go through with it. He'd try a hundred different ways to get Ja'far to come around to his point of view and gain his approval before proceeding.
It never shows in public. In court, the most that happens is a silent exchange of glances. Sinbad is always discreet in letting his eyes trail over to meet Ja'far's. And unless Ja'far is looking at him with those eyes, Sinbad knows that whatever argument it is spewing forth from the former's lips is purely histrionics and a convenient display of his displeasure but not disagreement.
In public, what people do see is a brash and brazen king ignoring every word and warning from his advisor, determined to forge his own way through laws and politics, not really caring which one he steps on and sort of destroys in the process.
So never let it be said that the king cares not for his advisor.
And that actually brings Masrur to the biggest reason why he'd say that Sinbad is the one wrapped around Ja'far's little finger.
His king is smitten.
It's so glaringly obvious to Masrur, but seemingly went unnoticed by everyone else.
The first time Sinbad and Ja'far shared an intimate experience together, it showed quite painfully the very next day for the pale man. Having spent nearly a decade together with the ex-assassin through all sorts of situations has allowed Masrur to read Ja'far quite well—or, at least well enough to know when he was in pain and attempting to hide it.
The Fanalis didn't miss the occasionally subtle winces and sharp intakes of breaths disguised as coughs. It didn't escape his attention the way Ja'far seemed to hold himself a touch more gingerly, take strides a tad less lengthy, and favor a seat—with a nice fluffy pillow if possible—a pinch more often.
And it most certainly didn't go unnoticed by Masrur the way Sinbad managed to work himself into a frenzy over all this. Masrur didn't miss the commotion that had taken place that morning in the King's chambers, during which Sinbad had fretted over the smaller man and futilely attempted to convince the latter to take the day off for once. He vacillated between thwarting Ja'far's strained attempts to get out of bed and apologizing for his roughness and carelessness.
It wasn't surprising that the chief general refused Sinbad's insistence on a day off and pressed himself on towards the day.
It also wasn't surprising—to Masrur, at least—that Sinbad spent the entire day hovering—discreetly—and conjuring the most bizarre excuses to flitter in and out of Ja'far's study and dog the latter's footsteps all day.
Ja'far punched Sinbad after the fifteenth time he tried to offer another pillow, following some variation of 'Oooh, Ja'far...you should take this one. This is much more comfortable than that one'.
Ja'far summoned Balalark Sei when Sinbad offered up his lap.
After that, Sinbad slinked away unhappily and skulking.
Ja'far only rolled his eyes and shoved his nose back into his papers.
Still, Masrur saw the other man check up on Ja'far silently every hour or so, brows strewn together worriedly or guiltily and dipping out again before the other could sense his presence and become distracted from his work.
The fifth time Sinbad dropped by, he immediately turned away and returned five minutes later with a wool blanket. His footsteps were light as he approached Ja'far, who was slumped over his papers and fast asleep, a quill sitting idly in his slack hand. He smiled upon seeing the younger man's relaxed expression, face free from lines of stress and anger. His smile morphed briefly into a minute frown when he realized Ja'far did not stir from his arrival. It was not an easy task to sneak up on the former assassin—Sinbad would know. Asleep or not, it was unusual for the other not to wake when a new presence appears.
Nevertheless, the smile eventually won out, and Sinbad granted himself a few more moments of observation, brushing aside a strand of silver to reveal the freckles dusting Ja'far's nose. He murmured something soft and loving and pressed a feather-light kiss atop the other's hair, then departed as silently as he came.
Masrur knows that moments like this remind Sinbad of a younger Ja'far. He knows that there used to be nights where a ten-year-old Ja'far, distrusting yet wavering, would eventually cave into an uneasy sleep, shivering in a corner opposite Sinbad's at wherever it was they crashed for the night.
Sinbad, knowing the obstinate boy's wary nature, would then rise from his fake slumber and drag his blanket over to the other corner, lie down quietly, and cover the both of them in a layer of shared warmth.
No one else knew.
These were their precious memories, and Masrur himself only managed to piece together one fragment from an offhanded joke Sinbad made.
That day, Pisti had bet that Sinbad had done something to earn Ja'far's ire, was threatened with forced celibacy or permanent sobriety or something like that, and thus had to spend the day winning back Ja'far's favor lest the latter ships him off to become a monk.
Sharrkan had scoffed and boasted loudly about how Sinbad didn't need to do anything—Ja'far would give in at some point, and the day would relapse into normalcy once more. After all, the King had Ja'far wrapped around his little finger.
Masrur thinks that Sharrkan idolizes the immature side of Sinbad just a bit too much.
When his opinion was called on, Masrur said nothing and walked away.
The next day, everything returned to its original routine, and no one gave it any more thought.
Now he stands, in a circle alongside the others in the post-haze of battle, and watches on in silence.
Although this time, he's not the only one.
Not a word is uttered nor a movement made that would pierce the blanket of silence encompassing the events in the center of the circle. For once, Sharrkan was silent, lips pressed tight and gaze focused intensely on the three figures in the middle. Pisti was on the verge of crying while Yamuraiha muttered spell after spell, orbs of water and light glimmering and fading in endless intervals.
"Shouldn't we move him somewhere else?" Pisti's quiet voice finally filters through the quietude from his left, and he turns his gaze onto the small girl, whose lips were wobbling and face a shade of ashen-gray.
Before he says anything, however, a cry of 'Ja'far!' interrupts them.
Sinbad's shoulders visibly slump in relief, and he would have collapsed onto the ground had he not been kneeling down already and keeping an anxious vigil over the injured man before him.
Ja'far's gradually opens his eyes blearily, pupils eventually focusing in on the shimmering orbs of red that were staring down at him with swimming worry. His mind finally catches up and connects the sounds of his own name being uttered over and over again with Sinbad's rough and croaking voice.
He lets out a weak smile. "Yah...Sin..." His own voice barely makes it out as a strained whisper, as it was not possible for him to even gather enough air into his lungs without a flood of pain engulfing him. Vaguely, he is aware of Yamuraiha's gentle soothing magic trickling over his skin, quelling the flames of agony little by little. He gasps at a sudden flare of hurt and immediately hissed and gritted his teeth from the protest his lungs made to that response. His eyes clam shut for the second of white-hot pain, and when he opened them again, sees those concern-filled ruby eyes even closer. He grimaces and tries for another smile. "I'm fine."
For a second, it seems like Sinbad wants to argue, but he relaxes and quirks a light smile of his own. He studies Ja'far's features with a soft gaze and says quietly, "Yeah...you are." Then his lips touch Ja'far's brow gently, kissing away the pain and blood and releasing his maelstrom of emotions—worry, relief, anxiety, fear, love—into that one simple action.
When he pulls away, there's so much love in his eyes, Masrur is certain no one would ever question again where Sinbad's affections really lie. There would be no question who truly commands their king's heart.
But then again, Masrur thinks as he looks at Ja'far and sees the way the pale man stare at Sinbad like nothing else exists at the moment, there would also be no question of how much those feelings were reciprocated.
So Masrur takes back his assessment. Perhaps it'd be fairer to say that they were wrapped up around each other's hearts more than anything.
And now, he isn't the only one who sees.