title: drifting leaves
fandom: Kyou Kara Maou
characters/pairings: Cheri, Julia/Adelbert, Julia/Konrad, Yozak, Gisela, Shibuya Shoma
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Julia and Konrad, step by step
notes: inspired by the format for stages of love fics, but Julia and Konrad defy ordinary stagings, let's pretend. ^_~ because this exists in a universe of fics in my head, there are some assumptions that i'm making, based on repeated viewings of the anime, which may or may not be canon. they make sense to me so i'm running with them.

permission

Cheri held her chin in her hand, staring nakedly at the sightless young woman before her. She was a puzzlement to the Maou. Someone - possibly Raven - had explained how she had lost her sight, but this Julia-san didn't seem to be hindered at all as a result. She had walked confidently up the red carpet of the court, and stopped a demure ten feet back from the Maou's dais, kneeling in the exact perfect position. Such a thing was possible with the judicious use of maryoku, Cheri expected, but... everyone told her that she had the most maryoku of anyone in the kingdom. That's why she had to be Maou.

She would hate to have to use her powers constantly like that, if that was indeed what Julia-san was doing.

There was also something about the air around her...

Raven came up behind her throne, and coughed discreetly. "Your Majesty, the request."

Ah, she was keeping them waiting. She cast a doubtful eye to the young man next to Julia-san. He wasn't Cheri's type at all. Thick, muscular, aggressively masculine... the type who enjoyed battles. He was even eyeing her with impatience, and she was the Maou. What in the world...?

"You are both heirs to your provinces. It is against Shin Makoku law for the provinces to be married or divided."

"I have a sister," Julia-san replied calmly. "My father is still capable of ruling now. He is in good health, and willing to serve for many more years. My sister will be able to succeed him."

"You choose to rescind your title, then, Julia-san?" Cheri asked doubtfully. Surely, to cast something like that off... it was no hardship at all, not to Cheri's eyes, but many people wouldn't want to do it.

"I will be happy to become a von Graz, if that is what Your Majesty is asking," Julia replied, a hint of a smile appearing at the corner of her lips.

Cheri sighed. "Ah, still, you are here because you need my permission to continue with this match. Clearly, it isn't as simple as all that. I would understand if it were a love match, but I am to understand that this is an arranged marriage?"

"Arranged, yes, but with our full knowledge and acceptance," Julia-san replied.

Cheri looked over at Sir Adelbert von Graz, frowning slightly. Did Julia-san even know what she was getting into with this man? She couldn't see...

Konrad was far more suited to a gentle, attractive young woman like Julia-san. Cheri would have to introduce them. Arranged marriages...

"I disapprove of arranged marriages on principle," Cheri said softly. "Marriage... is difficult enough, without having love."

"If it's our choice, it's our business, isn't it?" Adelbert grumbled, looking away. At least he had manners enough for that.

Julia-san snickered softly. "Love... has many forms, Your Majesty. This is the match I choose."

Cheri didn't understand, though. What political advantages could be gained from such a match? What could they gain? They were already two of the Ten Nobles. Maybe Raven could explain it to her... his lectures gave her headaches, though, and then she'd get bored and start to try to distract him...

She'd definitely ask him to explain it to her later.

"I won't stand in the way of two people who wish to be married. I wish you the best, I truly do. But, I'd advise you both to be very sure of your hearts before committing to this fully.

"Love is tricky business."

avoidance

"There you are!"

Konrad smiled benignly, turning to face his mother. Behind him, Yozak muffled a quick laugh as he stood up to bow to the Maou.

"Mother. It's so good to see you. You look beautiful."

"Of course I do," she pouted, winking at Yozak. "But my son is very cruel! You're constantly going out on these training exercises, and disappearing on me! Was this excursion to the northern border really necessary!" She put her hands on her hips, looking somewhat intimidating, even with the pout.

"That's what I'd like to know!" Yozak sighed, bumping Konrad with his elbow. "A week out and a week back, and we barely spent a night there before the Captain declared that everything was fine!"

The Maou stamped her little foot on the straw floor of the stable. "Konrad! You know I've been trying to introduce you to Julia-san! Why do you keep running away! Are you afraid of beautiful women?"

"That could hardly be it," Konrad laughed nervously. "After all, my own mother is the most beautiful woman in the universe."

"That's true," Cheri sniffed, tossing her voluminous hair back. "Why do you have to be so difficult, then? Don't you want to meet such a person as Julia-san?"

"I've heard many good things about the lady," Konrad chivalrously admitted. "However... circumstances... well, if you're so keen on... introducing her to one of your sons, why don't you have her meet Gwendal? He's the oldest, anyway."

Cheri rolled her eyes. "Gwendal, naturally, doesn't live with his head stuck in the sand! He's already met Julia-san. But really, she's more your type! I thought so the first time I met her."

"Mother," Konrad scratched the back of his head. "You're aware that Julia-san is engaged? To Sir von Graz..."

"Of course I'm aware!" Cheri bristled. "I approved their match! But the wedding date hasn't even been decided yet! How serious do you think they can be? Do this as a favor to me, Konrad. Come to dinner tonight and just talk to her..."

"Ah, I would love to do a favor for you, Mother, but we need to restock and then head to the eastern front to assist the line there." Konrad ducked his head down, looking truly contrite.

"We do?" Yozak gaped.

Konrad winced.

"You're always running away, never letting anyone get close to you! You're lucky Yozak-kun puts up with you, but how long will that last? A good-looking young man like that won't spend his whole life at your elbow, cleaning up your messes! You're just like your father!"

Konrad's head shot up, like he'd been doused with cold water. All three sets of eyes widened with shock. Silence cut all of them as Cheri's last words echoed like phantoms in their heads. Konrad opened his mouth to say something, but there were no words to reply to something like that.

Cheri shut her eyes tightly, and turned around. "Most of the time, that would be a good thing." She stomped off, her hands balled up in fists at her side.

Slowly, Yozak reached out, and put his hand on Konrad's shoulder. "Really, what would having a drink with the lady cost you? It'd obviously make the Maou really happy..."

Konrad sighed, and wiped his hand over his face. "Would you willingly venture into an argument like that with von Graz?"

The joke sounded weak, even to him.

secrecy

"You're a stubborn man."

He smiled at her over his shoulder, still trying to tie off the tourniquet. "It's just habit, I'm afraid. I spent a few years traveling on my own, honing my blade."

"And you were forced to travel on your own?" She smiled, and came around. "Stop that. You're only making it hurt worse." She knelt by his side, and reached out for his arm.

Instinctively, he pulled away. "I can handle the pain."

"I'm sure you can handle rivers upon rivers of pain," she sharply replied, and then grabbed his arm roughly. "But it's not necessary. And when you hurt, you hurt the people who love you."

"Love... me..." He repeated, watching her hands. Fluidly, she removed his makeshift bandage, and she put her pale, perfect fingers on his bloody wound. "Mother, you mean."

"And your brothers," she said softly.

"Brother," he corrected as he conceded.

"Brothers," she insisted. "And..."

"And?" he asked, leaning forward.

She stared with sightless eyes at his wound, and her fingers emitted a soft blue light. The blood flowed from his wound, but it didn't spill out, knitting his flesh with incomparable swiftness, until his skin was fresh and new, exactly like the rest of his arm, just cleaner.

She stood up, and raised her fingers to her lips, licking the blood from them. "And."

"That's not sanitary," he reminded her as she walked away. "I hope you don't do that with all your patients."

He was fairly sure she didn't, though.

comparison

Gisela dropped another large batch of flowers in her lap, and then plopped down next to her. "I really don't understand how you can tell the good ones from the bad ones. I have such trouble remembering all the signs..."

Julia smiled brightly. "It's not a question of seeing signs. That's why you have trouble. You need to be able to feel it. Instinct, instinct, I keep telling you! Some will give you a strong positive feeling. Some will make your fingers feel warm, touching them. Some, you will feel nothing at all unusual from them. That's how you differentiate."

"Eh?" Gisela bent down to watch Julia's fingers. "I don't feel anything from any of them..."

"It takes time," Julia kindly offered.

Gisela frowned. "I heard that you finally set your wedding date."

"Mm," Julia nodded. "I pinned him down! It's silly to wait for a time when there is peace. We have no idea when that might be. And..." She trailed off, shrugging slightly.

"But what about Sir Weller?" Gisela asked, leaning in and whispering conspiratorially. "I would have thought..."

"What?" Julia smiled. "That I would run off with the dashing young knight, and leave my intended brokenhearted?"

"It's hard to picture Sir von Graz brokenhearted," Gisela giggled. "Er! Not that! I mean, I know he loves you, why wouldn't he..."

Julia laughed. "But, you would question whether or not I love him. You think I should love Sir Weller."

"Not that you should, necessarily," Gisela hedged. "Well. Many people speculate that you might. You two are often together, lately. It makes the Maou very happy. And. You two make an extremely attractive couple."

"More so than Adelbert and I?" Julia asked archly.

Gisela's cheeks burned brightly. "I seem to be digging a deeper and deeper grave for myself. I don't mean that, but... well, to be blunt, even without being able to see them... Sir Weller is dashing and kind, and Sir von Graz is..."

"Less. Refined," Julia suggested diplomatically. "But, it's all right, isn't it, if Adelbert is more my type. Maybe you should pursue Sir Weller. I agree with the Maou, he needs a woman to take care of him. Adelbert... loves me, passionately. I'm selfish, perhaps, but I prefer his fiery love over anything else."

"That's not selfish. I'm happy for you." Gisela beamed brightly. "Every woman should be loved passionately."

"Perfect! Then I'll set you up with Sir Weller! Oh, but... I'm sure you know him well, already, don't you? So, go ahead and make your move!" Julia prodded Gisela playfully, poking her shoulder.

Blushing down her neck, Gisela stammered, "N-n-n-n-o, I mean, well, yes, he is dashing and kind and handsome, and refined, intelligent, strong, and compassionate. But, he's not my type."

Julia laughed out loud. "You make Sir Weller sound perfect! If he's not your type, then who is?"

"I haven't met the right man yet," Gisela said, ducking her head down. "But, I'd know him if I saw him. At first sight, I'm sure." She smiled softly, looking down at the grass. "He'd be beautiful... not that I'm shallow! But... he'd be a true Mazoku, tall, and gorgeous... with flowing, silky hair... a refined, elegant demeanor. He'd be well educated, articulate, brave, giving, selfless... Oh, I'm sorry." She blushed. "I must sound like a schoolgirl, prattling on about an imaginary man."

"Not imaginary," Julia replied smoothly, her hands sifting through the flowers gracefully, pulling out the ones with medicinal properties. "But no less out of reach. You're describing your father."

"Wha-!" Gisela leapt to her feet, horrified. "No, I...! I wouldn't, I mean, what in the world would make you think something like that?"

Julia smiled serenely. "Gisela, sit down, and calm yourself. Of course, I've never seen your father, but I've heard that he's quite the Ice Prince."

"He's not an ice prince!" Gisela hotly refuted. "He's a warm and passionate person, who feels things very deeply, if you get to know him. It's not his fault not many people choose to look past the surface of things!"

"I know this quite well. As well as I know that it's not your choice to have become smitten with him. Surely, it's almost natural, given his kindness to you, and everything he's done. Sir von Christ is a wonderful man. But, he cannot give you romantic love. It would be best for you to put aside those feelings, and find someone else to love." Her voice was so melodic, so peaceful, Gisela had no choice but to slump her shoulders and hang her head in defeat.

"I...know that. I try. But." She swallowed hard. "Well, these are difficult times."

"I know." Julia patted Gisela's hand gently. "All the more reason for me to set you up with Sir Weller, I think."

"That's... all right. I still think he's more your type," Gisela teased weakly.

Julia merely shrugged. "None of us can control for whom we will fall in love."

despair

She patted his chest, smoothing down the chain of the pendant. Her lips parted, as if she was to speak, but she said nothing.

Could she not find the words?

"Don't worry," he smiled, touching her hands. He wasn't allowed... "You shouldn't show such courtesy to a man like me. Wouldn't your fiancé be a better person to give this to?"

Her brow furrowed. "Stop that. You could well be going to your death. And I..."

"You'll be fine," he said, impulsively pulling her into a hug. He kissed the top of her head... He shouldn't be doing this. She... she loved Adelbert. And he accepted that.

"Stupid men. You don't understand anything. I wonder if you ever will." She grabbed his lapels, pulling him closer. "Konrad..."

"Captain?"

Yozak was keeping his distance, but Konrad pushed her away all the same. It wouldn't do... she was engaged... he...

"Listen to me. These may be my last words to you, so... listen, for once. The first thing is... I'm trusting you with this, Konrad. I know you won't disappoint me. And. The second thing is... someday, you are going to have to start listening to your heart. I pray to Shinou that he hasn't given up on you by then, but... there's nothing wrong with being a half-human, you know. You're the Maou's son, so keep your chin up."

"Chin up, don't disappoint you. Maybe I should write this down..." He teased her, smiling.

She swatted his shoulder, but... she looked really upset. "Konrad..."

He took her hand, and kissed her knuckles. "Julia. We won't see each other again... smile for me, or I'll lose my courage on the battlefield."

"You're impossible," she sighed, but she smiled, slightly.

He caressed her cheek... and turned to go to Yozak.

loneliness

He sat in the bleachers of a major league baseball team, holding a hot dog in one hand, and a beer in the other. He was wearing a cap with the logo of one of the teams playing stitched on its brim. He was cheering for the Red Sox, apparently.

He looked sidelong at the man sitting next to him. This... person was nothing like Sir von Wincott. Perhaps... it was petty of him, but he didn't think that was a bad thing. Necessarily. But.

There was a loud crack, and the crowd gasped in unison, holding their breath as they watched the ball arc up and up. When it was clear that there was no way it was coming back down in time to hit the grass, most everyone started to cheer.

Shibuya-san bumped Konrad in the arm with his elbow. "Eh? Eh? This is the life, right?"

For a moment, Konrad just looked at Shibuya-san blankly... the man's easy, warm smile, and kind face, though...

Konrad decided to try smiling. It...

It was going to be all right.








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