Hey-o! I've just finished reading up on the "Karin Side-stories" and I have to say that I actually find it more impressive than the main novels: No harem antics, actual political intrigue, more focus on things like Vampires and Undead etc etc. Anyway, the plot basically boils down to Karin 'The Heavy Wind' (Then 14 or 15) disguising herself as a male to try and become a Knight. After much stupid antics, she and her little group of knights get hired to be Princess Marianne's (Henrietta's mother) guard. Given that Karin is REALLY pretty for a guy, Marianne's immediately smitten and decides she wants a forbidden romance...despite just being 13 years old :/
To finish this up, Karin obviously reciprocates very little since she's straight and doesn't want to see what will happen if a knight in her station romances the princess of the kingdom. This fic is an expansion of that.
Hope you enjoy!
Princess Marianne sighed. She'd been doing that a lot lately, usually as a coping mechanism to deal with her boredom. Another day in the palace, another day of hearing her fathers attempt at politics now that his second in command, Estashu, had revealed himself to be a traitor. Ever since then he had promised himself that he would handle his subjects care personally rather than delegating.
Unfortunately, not delegating was boring.
She did her best not to slouch in her seat. Her father had invited - No, rather he actually begged her - to accompany him since he felt nervous. Yes, the War Hero who fought against ten-to-one odds and won with barely any casualties was scared of screwing up and needed his thirteen year old daughter for emotional support. Marianne loved her father very much, especially so since he took time to care for her despite his duties, but she couldn't help but feel that the image of the war hero scratching his head at assigning how much money went where contradicted all that she knew of her beloved father.
"Excuse me, Your Highness. We must discuss the allocation of the treasury's reserve funds. Now I believe-"
Her eyes glazed over as another one of her fathers subjects - The royal treasurer, if she remembered correctly - started rambling about agricultural expenses. Really, what was she doing here? This wasn't the first time she sat on the throne to look pretty, but usually those were when she was supposed to look for a Fiancee. Now she was expected to keep quiet and not look like she was nearly falling asleep.
Which she was. Very much so.
A fiancee...her mind wandered at the thought. She would have to get married soon; she probably had about four years to go before she was married to some influential noble about ten years her senior. She frowned at the thought. She wanted to marry out of love, to dance in the middle of a ball while everyone watched them, to watch their five kids (She was planning to name the eldest Henrietta) grow up and then live happy and content to old age. Was that so much to ask?
But she knew that was impossible. 'Princesses have a duty to their kingdom', her father would say. She would marry a man she didn't care for and smile as he cheated on her with someone he actually loved. Such was the life of a princess. They had no fairy tale endings, no knights in shining armor who saved them and earned their hand in marriage. She had no happily ever after.
And yet, this didn't stop her from dreaming. She closed her eyes slightly as the discussion continued. There was only one man she loved, one person that stirred warmth in her heart: Karin Desiree de Maillart. Her cheeks unintentionally reddened at the thought of him. Karin, the knight who had captured her heart and her affection. She had expected him to like all the rest; to be entranced by her beauty at first sight and heap compliments on her like a man possessed. But he wasn't - He had kept a respectful distance while promising to always protect her. Her heart fluttered as she remembered the kiss they shared at the inn, under the warmth of the candlelight.
...Okay, so he just kissed her in the forehead and left. But a girl could dream, right?
She was snapped out of her imagination by her father's call, "Marianne? Are you listening?"
"Huh?" She blinked before standing up straight in her throne, "Um, yes father! Forgive me, I was simply thinking of what the treasurer had discussed."
"The treasurer? My dear, I didn't realize you were so into agriculture that you would think so hard about the issue. Tell me, what did you find so intriguing that you would continue to think about the issue nearly an hour after he left?" He chuckled. He had already caught his daughter nearly falling asleep several times in this hour alone.
Nearly an hour? She pursed her lips and tried to keep her surprise hidden. Time seemed to fly when she thought of him, of the time they spent together. He was a knight now, no longer her guard. She suppressed the frown that threatened to overtake her lips. And just like that she had begun to see him less and less. She sneaked out of the castle on her own at times, hoping to catch him in town. But no matter where she looked, how many times she passed by the barracks or the shops, she always seemed to miss him.
"Well, we only have one visitor left before we can relax. I believe you remember him."
The double doors to the throne room opened and she felt her heart skip a beat, "Your Majesty, I apologize for the delay," It was Karin! Her knight stepped forward formally before bowing down to one knee, "The extermination of the Orc nest in the fishing village of Ordonne was a success, but we were unable to get there before the bulk of the Orc warband escaped to the north. Do we have your permission to go after them?"
Marianne couldn't stop staring at him. The sleeveless blue coat and leather gloves, the white dress shirt and shorts that exposed the skin of his slender arms and thighs, the dark stockings and high heeled boots that covered the rest of his lower body. And of course his long pink hair, comparable in length to her own hair, tied into a high ponytail - Truly, he was the epitome of masculinity. She couldn't stop the lovestruck smile that made its way to her face. He hadn't changed at all, and she never wanted him to.
"No, you have done your assigned task," King Phillip III stroked his beard in thought, "I will send a hunting party and oversee it myself. We cannot have more of our villages fall prey to this band of roving monsters."
Karin said nothing and nodded mutely, though Marianne could see the slight smile that twitched into his face. Typical of her father, she supposed: He was a warrior and a general, not a politician. He didn't know how much to allocate to the academia, but he was fully capable of destroying a threat. She had no doubt that those Orcs were doomed now.
"That said, I have another task for you," Karin craned his neck up quickly, "Eager I see. Do not worry, this task isn't too taxing. In fact, I believe you have experience in it already," Her father stood up and looked down at Karin, "Without me here, I fear for my daughter's life. She is the sole heir of the royal family and Estashu's betrayal worries me. There may be others who wish to take advantage of the kingdom's disarray and plunge us into chaos. Karin, I wish for you to safeguard my daughter while I am away. Can you do that?"
"Of course, your majesty," Karin stood up and placed his right hand against his heart, "I promise on my life that no harm will befall the princess and that I will protect her to my very last breath. I swear on my honor as a knight and as a citizen of the great kingdom of Tristain."
If she was alone right now, Marianne would have squealed. Karin was to be her guard? She placed both hands in front of her mouth to mask the wide smile that she now sported. No, it wouldn't do for her to act so immature. Knights fell in love with people who were mature, right? She couldn't act like a child, at least not in front of him.
"Good, good." The king clapped him on the shoulder gently, "My daughter's life is in your hands now, Karin. I'm trusting you to keep her safe no matter the trials you may face."
Her father left soon after that. He had told them that he would need to pack for supplies and organize the counter-offensive. Marianne was ecstatic, quickly dragging Karin to the gardens at the back of the palace. It was their special place: It was where the two of them - and that Centurion man, but who cared about him? - sneaked out of the palace from. She had hoped to talk to him in private here.
"It...It has been a long time, Karin," She started, twiddling her hands nervously. The two of them were currently sitting together in the stone bench and across from them was the pond the royal designers built. She watched as the setting sun reflected on the water's surface. Wasn't this romantic? She certainly liked to think so. It was one of the reasons she chose this place.
"It has only been a week, princess," Karin smiled all the same. He enjoyed the princesses company; it made for a fine escape from the antics of her fellow knights, "How have you been? I apologize for not asking sooner. Many assignments were passed my way ever since I received an official knighthood." Even a week later he still couldn't believe it. He had fainted from shock and happiness the first time, which Marianne supposed was because he had finally achieved his dream. Not many made their claim to knighthood by exposing a traitor, after all.
"I know, but I missed you..." Karin remained silent as Marianne intertwined her hands with his, "When you were nearly executed, I didn't know what I was going to do. But you didn't. You survived and now you're a knight," She placed her head on his shoulder, "But even still, you're protecting me now. It must be such a bother to you, right? You're finally a knight and you still have to watch over me."
"Of course not!" He denied immediately, "I may no longer be part of your official guard, but did I not promise to protect you? If you need my help, I'll always be there."
Marianne giggled. That was the response she expected to hear; she knew there was a reason she continued to love him, "Well, enough of my ramblings. Should we not enjoy the view? The setting sun is beautiful at this time."
"Yes, it is beautiful," She waited a moment, but it became quite obvious that Karin wasn't going to say anything. She puffed her cheeks and scooted closer to him. Wasn't he supposed to say 'But the princess is even more beautiful'?
"Princess, we have talked about this before," He interrupted, "I cannot return your affections. I am a lowly knight and you are the heir to the kingdom. You told me yourself that you knew what would happen once you grew up. Please, don't act this way. It will only hurt us both in the end."
"I don't care about that!" Karin's eyes widened in surprise. The princess was rarely angry, "My father wishes me to marry, but shouldn't I be able to choose who I love? Who I spend the rest of my life with? I do not wish to be wed to a noble who I will never love. I love you, no one else! Even if it hurts me, I will never change how I feel about you!"
"Princess...we cannot be together," Karin looked away. He had more than one reason for not being with her.
"Is it because of our positions?" Tears threatened to leak from her blue irises, "It doesn't matter to me. Perhaps I could convince my father for him to allow me to marry you?" Karin felt a weight add to his shoulders. She was talking about marriage now? This was escalating quickly, "If that fails, we could elope together! Just the two of us, unbound from the chains of nobility and royalty.
Wasn't she asking for his opinion? He had just gotten his knighthood. Eloping would kind of ruin all that.
Marianne closed her eyes and puckered her lips: She was expecting a kiss. Karin backed away and surveyed the area quickly - If anyone had spotted what the princess planned to do, that was the end for the both of them. His knighthood would be stripped from him, the princess would be shamed for daring to fraternize with someone below her station, and he would be right back to where he started.
"Please, just grant me this one thing," She whispered. A conflicted look covered Karin's face before he decided his next action.
The young chevalier kissed her in the forehead before quickly turning to leave. He needed to get away now, to clear his head. Marianne watched him leave before a hand made its way to her forehead, "Just like the night at the inn..." She lowered her hand and clenched it into a fist. She wasn't going to give up. Karin would be hers, no matter what her father or anyone else said. A maiden in love was stronger than any magic.
Unfortunately, she wasn't privy to the secret he held inside his heart. The secret that would change their relationship forever if it was exposed.
Karin was female.
The door to the barracks slammed open.
"The princess is in love with me."
Of all the things they expected Karin to say, that had to have been the last thing they would ever expect. All three males looked at Karin and then at one another before turning back to their card game, "Hey, didn't you three hear me!" Centurion sighed and folded his cards on the table. This new 'poker' game they imported from the east was so complicated. So if he was right: Numbers were the lowest, followed by Jack, Queen, King, and then finally ace. He looked at his cards and sighed. All he had were a pair of seven's.
"Hey, folding already, Centurion?" Barkus taunted lightly, practically grinning as he looked at his cards, "Guess you're gonna be treating us all at the bar tonight!" The ash-haired knight threw him a glare before standing up from the table. He needed another drink, particularly something strong.
"Now, now, don't forget that you still have me as an opponent," Rancis interjected, ruffling his frilly purple shirt confidently, "Once I win this round, you're going to take me to that new place you keep mentioning. What was it called? The Enchanting Nymphs? I heard that place is expensive," He grinned, "I hope you're prepared to lose your pay for the whole month!"
"Hah, you're on!"
Pierre 'Centurion' Valliere, Rancis de Gramont and Barkus de Grandple - A drunk, a pervert and an idiot. These three were her fellow knights and, as much as she hated to admit it at times, the three people she could consider her closest friends. All three of them had willingly tried to sacrifice their lives for her and she owed them more than she could ever hope to repay. They didn't even know her secret and yet it wouldn't have surprised her if they stuck by her regardless.
"Two Aces! You're taking me to that place tonight!"
"Double or nothing!"
That didn't stop them from being a pack of morons, though.
Karin sighed and rubbed her head. She was going to get a headache at this rate, "Hey, didn't you three hear me? I said the princess is in love with me," She called out again.
"We heard you the first time," Barkus picked up the deck and began to pick off two cards for his deck, "But that's not really something new, right? The princess invited you to her room back when we were at the inn. Hell, the entire kingdom pretty much knows that the princess has a crush on you. Why do you think everyone was fighting to be the one to service you back in the broth-:
"Say another word and prepare to lose your dignity," Karin interrupted, her face rapidly reddening at the mention of the damnable place she had been dragged to. She nearly had her identity exposed and all her work tarnished. And for what? Because those two idiots thought what she needed to cheer her up was paid intercourse with women who likely had a few diseases on them.
"All we're saying is that its not new," Rancis interrupted, looking down at his cards with a smile. He was going to win, "Besides, why are you so worried? Most guys would kill to have Princess Marianne fall in love with them. Her beauty is unmatched by any other rose in this kingdom and she still has much room to mature," Karin didn't miss the connotations of his last word, "And yet here you are complaining like you've been cursed."
"You idiot," She chopped him in the back of the head lightly, "I'm a knight and she's a princess. She would be dishonored and I would be stripped of my rank," And that wasn't even getting into the fact that she didn't exactly seek out romantic relations with those of the same gender as her. Yes, she dressed herself up as a male in order to join the knights, but that didn't mean her sexuality had changed.
"The princess is really serious about you, huh?" Centurion commented, downing the wine in his glass with one gulp. He shook his head; not strong enough, "Why not just accept her feelings? If not, just reject her and tell her its not going to happen. Its even more cruel to leave her hanging, you know. You're going to be sending mixed signals if you continue to dance around the issue."
Her eyes flitted over to Centurion briefly before she suppressed another blush. He'd grabbed her in his sleep the previous week and, much to her surprise, he actually didn't kiss her like the other times he had been dreaming. She placed two fingers on her lip gently. She had kissed him that time, but it wasn't because she liked him or anything! She just suddenly felt like it..."
"So?" Barkus cut in, "Having a partner or two on the side is pretty common nowadays for political marriage, right? I hear rumors that even the king has a mistress or two on the side. Why not just agree and be done with all this stress?"
"I fear its more serious than that," She started gravely, "She...was talking about marriage..."
The atmosphere in the room froze. Centurion was the first to show his shock, the grip he had on his glass loosening and the drinking implement shattering against the floor audibly. Rancis and Barkus had shut down, both of their mouths hanging agape at the news. Having a crush was one thing; having a lover was one thing; but marriage...that was when things became serious.
"How does she plan to do that?" Centurion scowled at the shattered remains of his glass. He needed to clean that up, "Are you the son of of an influential noble family without telling us?" Not that he would know anything about being the son of an influential noble family.
"She tells me she plans to talk to her father..." She twitched as Centurion laughed at her response, "Stop laughing, this is serious. The princess is nearly of marrying age and she's letting her infatuation get the better of her. She even made talks of eloping in order to fulfill her wishes. The kingdom would fall into ruins of its only princess decided to shirk her duties."
"Eloping?" An uncomfortable frown made its way to Centurion's face. That hit a little bit close to home, "Regardless, she's just a young girl. Maybe the best thing to do would be to wait it out? I can tell you don't want to reject her directly, so why not let the passage of time do it for you? She'll grow up one day and look back on it as a fond memory," Not that he would know anything about time healing heartbreak either. No, sir.
"Ugh, this is too much to deal with right now," She groaned, "The King is leaving to go on a hunting expedition and he expects me to take care of his daughter. Meanwhile, her daughter seems to think its the perfect time to enact her fantasies and ignore the ramifications for doing so.
"You're guarding the princess again?" Barkus finally found it in him to speak once again. He should've been happy for his friend, "When do you have to leave?"
"In two days," She sighed and rubbed her head. Tomorrow she would have to meet with Daphne in order to show her around the capital. She involuntarily shuddered. The vampire was friendly enough, but she couldn't help but shake the feeling of dread from the stares she had given her. They looked...hungry, "I'm meeting a friend tomorrow to show her around town. But after that I'll be spending most of the week guarding the princess in the palace."
"A friend, eh?" Rancis was the one to speak this time, "My, not even married and you're already cheating on the poor princess! My heart weeps for our sovereign heir!"
The sides of her mouth twitched as her arm made its way to her sword-wand. The blond playboy was just asking for it, "She's just a friend, Rancis. I'm showing her around town since I wanted to be nice," And avoid being licked. She shuddered again; she'd fought Undead and nearly faced execution, but the damnable licking was still her greatest fear up to now.
"Well, no use thinking about it now, right?" Centurion interjected, "Come on, we haven't seen you all week since you left for that assignment. Lets go to that Enchanting Nymphs place that Rancis mentioned. Barkus is paying for all of us."
"Yea- Hey wait, why am I paying for all of you!?"
Karin rolled her eyes and smirked. Some things just never changed.
Character list for the unaware:
Karin Desiree de Maillart - Most of you know her as 'Karin the Heavy Wind' from Zero no Tsukaima. Back before she had her rule of steel mentality, she actually acted a bit more like Louise: Brash, hot-tempered, and (most important of all) tsundere. Unlike Louise, however, she's a prodigy in magic and shows to be capable of wandless magic when sufficiently pissed.
Centurion/Pierre - Karin's closest friend and love interest in the side-novels. Although not stated, there's a 95% chance that he's the Duke la Valliere from the main novels. He thinks Karin is male, although he does acknowledge he's really pretty for a guy. He also assumes that Karin is homosexual during the first volume.
Rancis - A blond playboy. Though unconfirmed, its pretty easy to guess that this is Guiche's dad: He has the appearance, attitude, and heart-shaped frilly purple shirt that marks him as a Gramont.
Barkus - Big guy. Kind of a jerk at first but proves to be kind-hearted when it matters. I'm guessing he's Malicorne's (Fat guy from the main novel) dad. They have the same cowlick bang.
Marianne de Tristain - The princess of Tristain and Phillip the III's daughter. She falls head over heels for Karin because she thought that 'he' was handsome. Despite being only 13 years old, she shows a maturity with romance and shows that he knows what will happen to her once she grows up. Unaware that Karin is female, and likely either never found out or did and moved on as she grew older. She has a similar personality to Henrietta before she was forced to take up the throne against Reconquista.
Daphne - A vampire Karin befriended. She and her sister Amethyst are rare vampires because they do not wish to kill humans in order to survive. She joins a special black ops later after being freed. Her les-yay with Karin quickly became memetic in spacebattles since she stripped Karin and made her sweat in order to drink it as a replacement for blood - Karin was actually against the idea and shown to be struggling in the novel picture. Despite this, Karin seems to hold no ill-will towards her.
If you need to see their pictures, go to baka-tsuki and look at the novel pics for the Karin side stories. They have a nice group color shot.
Well, that's it:) Read and review if you like it.