Politics and Starry Nights
"I think he's happy for me for settling in." 'I'm happy for you two!' is what he really said, but you don't need to know that. He frowns. "What about you and his wife?"
"Oh. Well, nothing much, really. Just catching up. She's a lovely lady. Say, My Royal Highness, have you ever been to the forest?"
"Yeah, the one surrounding the glade where I graze my sheep."
The former king reaches out for a cookie from the plate sitting on the table, popping it into his mouth and chewing slowly. "Yeah."
"Were you the one who said you couldn't trust me, so long ago?"
"(First Name)! (First Name)!" The twins come barreling into the room, swarming around you and Kageyama.
We'll finish this later, you mouth to him before turning your attention to your siblings. "Yeah?"
"(First Name), I wanna cookie!"
"Just get one yourself, Mei," you say, ruffling your brother's hair as you watch your sister stare intensely at the pastries.
The time had passed until it was weeks, then months, since Kageyama had abdicated the throne.
"Yeah?" You look up from your peaceful herd grazing the meadow, sun beating down on your face as you sit near the edge of the trees with the former king. "What?"
"When will I get my throne back?"
"Oh. Your throne," you murmur, "about that…"
"Will I get it back?"
"Yeah. Yeah, of course. I promised you I'd get it back for you, didn't I?"
"I haven't gotten any information from the chief about the current state of affairs in the capital."
You cross your legs and let out a small huff. "We can't just storm in there! Who knows if the people even like you? Tyrant. They'll revolt if you act too quickly to take back the throne."
"You'll be with me, though, right?"
Glancing over at the tall male, his face covered in light-dappled shadows from the trees, you crack a smile. "Of course, My Royal Highness. I'll be with you every step of the way, even if you fall. I was with you from the start, wasn't I?"
His face contorts into a strange expression. "Yeah."
"Is that your attempt at a smile? You would think that after more than half a year without any politics, you'd learn to smile and not grimace."
Leaning back on the grass, you stare up at the crystal blue sky, filled with white puffs and small black birds flying overhead. The gentle bleats of the sheep fill your ears as you lightly grip your shepherd's crook, wolf companion on one side and Kageyama on the other.
You're setting up for dinner with Kageyama when a loud knocking interrupts your train of thought. "Dammit, I almost dropped the plates… Kageyama, can you get that?"
The male silently pads towards the door; you can hear the gentle creak of the frame as the door is slowly pulled open. Silence greets your ears.
You put down your plate and make your way towards the front door. "Kageyama, just greet the—Sugawara?" Your eyes widen at the sight of the silver-haired butler, looking haggard and slightly worse for wear. "Don't just stand there, Kageyama, let him in! Oh, are you alright? What happened? How'd you find us?" Fretting over the former butler, you pull him into the house and shut the door tightly behind him.
"Sugawara?" All the onyx-haired male can do is stare in disbelief at his former subordinate; he blinks slowly and reaches out to touch his butler's sleeve. "It's you?"
"King Kageyama, are you alright?" The gaunt male looks ashen, yet his first move is to walk towards his former employer. "You haven't been harmed by anyone, have you?"
"Of course not! He's with me – nobody would dare lay a finger on him!" You puff out your chest in pride. "But Sugawara, what are you doing here?" Dragging him over to the dining table, you pull out a chair and gesture for him to sit.
"Have you not heard anything from the capital, my lady?" His concerned brown eyes search yours as you shake your head. "Really, nothing?"
"Nothing. What's going on?"
"The people are rallying for my lord here," Sugawara gestures with his hand towards the king, "for him to retake the throne."
"What? Why?" You turn to glance at the king, then turn back to stare at his butler. "He was the reason why Karasuno was invaded, and now they want him back?"
"They prefer his rule to that of Nekoma's."
"But isn't Nekoma still in the capital?" Out of the corner of your eye, you see the king softly shuffle towards the hallway.
"My lord—" The ashen-haired man begins to stand up, but is stopped by you.
"Let him go. I'll tell him later. I think he's in shock," you say as you take a seat in front of the butler. "Did Nekoma leave the capital?"
"They left due to the people's protests. Most want my lord back on the throne, since he's the rightful heir." Sugawara slowly leans back in the chair, closing his eyes as he runs a hand through his limp strands. "He hasn't ruled for long before he abdicated, you see, so it's hard to say if everyone really likes him. Perhaps he's the best option for this time."
"And the others? Are they opposed to him?"
"They don't particularly seem to care," he replies. "But he needs to come back immediately, Miss (First Name). I'm not sure you entirely understand how dire the situation is right now."
"When was this? Is there nobody leading the country?"
"Nekoma left about two months ago, and I've been in charge ever since," he sighs. "Who'd have thought, a butler in charge of a country?" The man in front of you lets out a soft, mocking laugh. "I sent you many letters in hopes that you would respond and bring my lord back to the capital, back to the castle, to reclaim the throne, but you never replied. I took it upon myself to travel out here in person to deliver the message to you, lest you two never return."
"I never received any messages – I wonder what happened to them," you muse as you push some cookies on a plate towards the butler. "You must be hungry. You can have the spare guest room; please stay the night. It's too late to reach the capital safely," you say with a glance out the window at the quickly darkening sky.
"My parents will be home soon, as will my siblings," you explain with a laugh to the butler. He replies in kind with a gentle smile. "You can explain the situation to them, but I doubt they'd be opposed to us returning to the capital."
After discussing it with your parents, it was decided that the three of you – Sugawara, Kageyama, and you – would leave for the capital the next day at dawn. You would take your wolf companion with you, and the king's return would be kept secret until the next week, when he will announce his reclaiming of the throne.
"Kageyama!" Knocking on his door, you turn the knob and push it open slowly. "I'm coming in."
His back in turned to you as he stares out the window at the stars in the night sky. You sit next to him on the bed, leaning your head on his shoulder. He stiffens slightly, then relaxes.
"The stars are really pretty, huh?"
"We'll be able to see them from the castle, though, My Royal Highness." You proceed to explain to him everything that his butler had told you. Kageyama continues gazing out at the inky black expanse of sky, not replying to anything you say.
"Isn't this what you wanted, My Royal Highness?" You look at him and poke his arm. "You asked me before when we were returning to the capital to reclaim your throne. Now's your chance."
I asked because I wanted to know how much time I had left with you. He watches you, your face turned to the sky. The moonlight streams in through the window, highlighting your side profile and your features; your lashes leave soft shadows under your eyes as you glance down at your hands in your lap. "No, I'm fine with it."
He stands abruptly and you look up at him. "Well, I'm going to go pack," you say, edging towards the door. "You should, too. We're leaving at dawn tomorrow. See you at dinner, Kageyama."
The three of you set off on horseback for the castle. When you arrive after three days, having gone through several horrible experiences in roadside hotels to spend the night and multiple pranks played on you by local children, the first thing you do is collapse in the soft bed of your room.
You had been promoted to a suite next to the king's personal bedroom. Running your hand over the elaborately carved cherry wood bed frame, you flop over and bury your face into your pillow. "What am I going to do? I said I would help him get back the throne, but now that he's actually here… on his throne… what do I do?"
A knock comes at your door. Turning over quickly and sitting up straight, you call out, "Who is it?"
"Sugawara," comes the gently reply.
"My lady?" You see his floppy silver mop of hair peek around the door. "I'm coming in." Shutting the door closed behind him, he walks over to you. "Miss (First Name), I need to ask you a question. It's not exactly the best question, but it's necessary."
"What is it?"
"He needs a partner, my lady," the butler says, shuffling his feet on the floor. "A queen, you might say."
"It endears him to the people."
"Having a wife… that makes him more relatable, you're saying? That's important, how?"
"The people don't have much of an opinion on him. He didn't rule for much longer than a month before he abdicated, you see."
"But he was the reason why Nekoma invaded. Is there a reason why they don't dislike him?"
Sugawara looks around warily, then leans in closer to you. "They don't know he was the one who commanded the invasion of Nekoma. Another one of his generals took the fall for him."
He shrugs. "Apparently the general had promised my lord's parents to protect my lord at any and all costs."
You shake your head. "Ugh. Politics. Anyways, you were talking about a wife… what does that have to do with me?"
"My lord doesn't date. He doesn't like the daughters of the aristocrats – he thinks they're too stuck up."
You scoff lightly. "He should get a load of himself when we first met."
"What do we do?"
"Of course I have to advise him on this… we could marry him off to some girl from the countryside. Karasuno has a lot of pastures, right? That'd make him more relatable."
"Yes, but who? Who does my lord know, tolerate, and would make a good wife for him?" Sugawara thinks about it, head resting in hands. You lie back down on your bed and let out a sigh.
"That'd be hard, finding someone to marry him off to. Who would want to do it? I doubt any girls know he's back. Word travels slowly in the country."
"Unless…" Sugawara turns to look at you.
"Unless? You mimic, cocking your head in surprise at the butler as you sit up on the bed again, hugging your pillow to your chest. "Unless what?"
"Unless you marry him, my lady."