title: Sexual Politics
fandom: Meine Liebe
characters/pairings: Lui/Naoji, Ed
rating: Teen
warnings: sex, politics, poetry
summary: Lui and Naoji, and the issue of gender.
notes: based on episode 8, and contains spoilers for that episode.

It was difficult to fold clothes neatly when wearing gloves; he lacked the tactile perception of what he was doing. It was kind of Ludwig to come to help him pack, but the other man's gaze was heavy, and Naoji could feel the judgment in it.

"You really should have the porters pack for you," Ludwig sniffed with mild disdain, and Naoji wasn't sure if Ludwig was opposed to the manual labor or the inefficiency of Naoji's movements.

Shrugging disinterestedly, Naoji smiled apologetically at Ludwig. "I prefer not to have anyone go through my things, if it can be avoided."

Ludwig's lips quivered slightly in what could either be a frown or a grimace before they settled once again into a tight line. He recrossed his legs, and pushed his empty teacup away deliberately. "It's inconvenient of the headmaster to make such arbitrary choices. Surely, there were less important students he could have spared in the interest of goodwill and friendship."

Plainly, goodwill and friendship were not worthy causes to Ludwig. Naoji crossed the room to refill Ludwig's cup. "I am not opposed to the arrangement, however. I am curious to see how typical my experiences here are to schools in Europe, or even just in Kuchen."

Ludwig raised an eyebrow. "I should certainly think that your time here has not been 'typical' at all."

"Of course not," Naoji smiled. "But I'm curious, all the same, about other schools and differing teaching methods."

"You are putting a positive spin on things," Ludwig accused mildly. "I suppose that it will be... interesting. Though, I would rather that you were not going alone with that... Ed."

Naoji watched Ludwig with veiled amusement. "I was pleased that Ed was also chosen. He's quite good at making friends and adapting to new environments."

Ludwig sighed. "Just don't get too familiar with him." He looked away as he spoke, lifting his teacup but he did not take a sip.

"You are protective of me," Naoji murmured under his breath, unable to look at Ludwig as he spoke or keep his cheeks from blushing. "I can take care of myself."

"Of course you can," Ludwig returned sharply. "I would not be interested in you if you could not. But any man would be possessive of his treasured prize." He stood up, his boots heavily staccato on the polished floors. He stood behind Naoji, and put one hand on Naoji's jaw line, and one hand on Naoji's hand. "I would be happier always to have you close by my side."

Naoji quivered, the silk of his shirt falling from his fingers into his trunk messily.

Ludwig stepped even closer still, and brushed his open lips over Naoji's jaw, exhaling purposefully slowly. "While you are gone, you must not forget where your place is, Naoji." Cruelly removing his presence, Ludwig pulled a small, thick, leather-bound book from his jacket pocket. "Your bedtime reading. Specifically, the book that begins where I have placed the ribbon."

Naoji clung to the book, wetting his lips. Ludwig was already seated again, the brief caress now less than a memory. "Ludwig? But..."

"Read it carefully," Ludwig commanded casually. "And think of me constantly as you do."

Naoji swallowed, and placed the book in his trunk, confident that he would have no difficulty following Ludwig's orders.

The air seemed thicker, more humid here in Heartville, and colder, somehow, but it could just be the hour. Dawn was hours from breaking, but this was definitely the best time to practice his kyudo.

The women in this school were far too forward.

"I don't know what's worse," Ed sighed, and it disrupted the flow of his kai, but he did not redraw, merely waited patiently for the release's moment. "That you got up this early, or that I am still up." Ed plopped himself down on the ground near enough to Naoji so they could speak softly to each other, but far enough away that he was not in the way.

The release came, and Naoji experienced it.

"You're too damned serious," Ed cajoled, teasingly. "This is like a vacation."

Naoji curled his lips in disgust. "I do not see how."

"Well!" Ed threw up his hands, laughing. "Two weeks of being excused from class. And this school is much more relaxed, don't you think?"

"Relaxed?" Naoji narrowed his eyes, picking up a new arrow. "Undisciplined, I think."

Ed chuckled. "They do seem kind of lost without that... what was her name again? Ishtar? Some girls tonight were crying that they thought she wouldn't be coming back. Like she'd join the Strahl."

Naoji closed his eyes. There was no point in raising his bow at this moment. "I'm sure Rosencrantz is looking forward to returning her to where she belongs."

Ed leaned forward, narrowing his eyes. "Why, Naoji, are you a sexist? Careful, that might be a flaw..."

"It isn't sexism to know one's proper place," Naoji asserted quietly. "In my homeland, this Ishtar Vermilia would be considered a disgrace."

"But, this isn't Japan," Ed reminded cheerfully. "She is fulfilling a different role, certainly, but if she has the skill, why shouldn't she? I'm sure Orphe is enjoying her point of view. And Lui is going damn near mad."

"I've never discussed gender roles with Ludwig," Naoji confessed quietly, raising his bow. "But there is nothing to be gained from chaos save destruction."

"Chaos?" Ed questioned. "It's chaos for one woman to aspire to inherit her father's place in society?"

"First of all, she is not the Marquis' daughter," Naoji sighed, lowering his bow. "And secondly, anything that goes against the natural order is chaos."

"I don't know about that," Ed winked. "Isn't chaos a question of perspective? Things that seem disruptive when you are experiencing it first hand can be viewed as inevitable when a bit of distance is obtained."

Naoji looked at Ed with troubled eyes. "Some inevitabilities are less desirable than others."

"But!" Ed raised his finger in triumph. "That's not a question of the natural order. That's a question of perspective."

Naoji looked at the target. He had to make due with a tree trunk, as there were no acceptable targets in this school. "Isn't the propulsion of one's perspective the very essence of politics? If we abandon our own way of seeing things, we are left blind, are we not?"

Ed laughed, and stretched out on the dewy grass. "Well, perhaps, but sometimes our sight deceives us, let's us believe we know what is around us when in fact, we are only seeing part of the picture."

"You would accept this woman as part of the Strahl?" Naoji asked directly, forgoing hypotheticals.

Ed considered. "In principle, I have no objection to women sharing a role in the government. I don't know this particular woman, but are not women the heart and soul of the life we are striving to protect? Women are our mothers and sisters, after all. Why should they be excluded?"

Naoji frowned. "I think that, unless a leader can protect his people with his own hands, he has no right to rule."

"That's a policy that assumes that peace is maintained in battle," Ed reminded. "If we are striving to be a land of peace, it shouldn't matter, right?"

Naoji lifted his bow, confidently. "Peace is dependent on more than one country's dedication. Ultimately, peace at all costs is merely surrender. There can be no country secure in their values unless they are willing to fight to protect them."

His arrow flew straight to its designated target.

Ed rolled onto his back. "I can't win. But I still think it would be interesting. After all, government affects everyone equally, right? So why shouldn't it include everyone equally?"

Naoji smiled at Ed affectionately, shrugging. "Next thing, you'll be forwarding democracy. You really are not too concerned with being selected as part of the Strahl, are you?"

Ed winked. "If you assume you won't be chosen, you have so much more freedom to consider all the possibilities."

"She propositioned you?" Naoji turned away from Ludwig so the other man could not see his disgust. Something ugly roiled in his belly. The thought was deeply unpleasant.

"It is a matter of no consequence, is it not?" Ludwig watched Naoji unpack critically, flicking microscopic lint from his thigh. "Her machinations were juvenile, and easily thwarted. She was unworthy."

"Of course she was," Naoji sighed. "I'm glad our student body has returned to their senses. The whole affair is absurd."

There were times, like now, when Ludwig's gaze was as sharp as a blade in his back. "Did you do your assigned reading?"

Naoji flushed, his hands quivering. "A-ah, yes. Song of Songs. I had heard it mentioned before..."

Ludwig rose to his feet, and stepped heavily around the table to Naoji, strolling casually to elongate the moments before he was right behind Naoji. "God chases after His chosen, as a lover, courting the heart of man." Ludwig put one hand on Naoji's waist, and stepped up so he was standing right behind Naoji. "God's chosen don't need to go begging in the streets for love; they have everything they want within their grasp. It is how we can tell the righteous from the ordinary."

"Everything..." Naoji gasped. "Is so simple for you, isn't it, Lui?"

"Do you doubt me, Naoji?" Ludwig asked, dangerously. His hand slipped around to unbutton Naoji's jacket.

"Doubt you, Lui?" Naoji was helpless, only, it wasn't true, not really. He could have stopped Lui's hands. 'Helpless' was an excuse to let Ludwig do as he pleased. It was convenient to pretend that Ludwig would have his way no matter what. It was submission, but submission to Ludwig felt more like accession.

"By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not. Did you think of me when you read those words, Naoji?" Ludwig pushed Naoji's jacket off of his shoulders, and let it fall to the floor.

"You told me to, Lui," Naoji sighed, his eyes shut tightly. "I thought of you as I read each word."

Ludwig pulled the ribbon that held Naoji's hair in place. His fingers pushed into Naoji's hair roughly, parting it into silky chunks between his fingers. "I detest the beasts of burden, working the fields. They are repellent to me, and the sweat on their brow is like a brand, declaring their worthlessness. Draw me, we will run after thee; the king hath brought me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will find thy love more fragrant than wine! Is that not the way? Those who deserve the good regard of God above are given it, do you not agree?"

"Ludwig," Naoji sighed, "I no longer know what we are talking about."

Ludwig smiled, and turned Naoji around, undressing him deliberately. "When politics and sex mix, Naoji, we are all transformed into prostitutes, begging for our livelihood by spreading out legs for the unwashed masses. What is the point of gaining power if you must lower yourself to do so? Rather, should not power elevate you, purify you, like love?"

"Seduced by power," Naoji chuckled nervously, bare now to Ludwig's lustful eyes. "I pity your future wife. It's a rare woman who can be a saint and a mother at the same time."

"My house will be more cloistered than a nunnery to my wife," Ludwig vowed, taking Naoji's hands and leading him to the bed. "My weaknesses are bared only before the one I cherish."

Naoji swallowed hard. He wished Ludwig would take off his own clothes, or at least let Naoji touch him, touch his hair. He waited for Ludwig's permission.

Ludwig took Naoji's face in his hands, and took a brutal kiss, digging his fingers into Naoji's hair, carelessly. "Are you not glad to be back by my side, where you belong, Naoji?"

Naoji crumpled, putting his forehead on Ludwig's shoulder, grasping weakly at the lingering strands of Ludwig's perfect hair. "You make me weak, Ludwig."

Ludwig pushed Naoji onto the bed, smirking. "Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;" Ludwig slowly started to undress, undoing each button with painful care. "That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend, Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp'd town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end." He pulled his jacket off, and folded it neatly over the chair. "Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betroth'd unto your enemy;" He slipped out of his shirt, and unbuckled his boots, leaning over to pull them off. "Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." Naked now, he slipped into bed, crawling over Naoji to consume Naoji's pale, quivering flesh.

Desperately, weakly, Naoji clung to Ludwig, laughing soundlessly, humorlessly. "I had no idea... Ludwig... that you were so spiritual."

"With the beauty of God's handiwork before me," Ludwig smirked, his mouth on Naoji's neck, "how can I doubt?"

additional notes: ahhhh. it's not clear here, but i think lui's objection to Ishtar in ep 8 was not her gender, but her destructive incompetence. also, the poem lui recites to naoji is John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14, also known as Batter My Heart. the other quotes were from Song of Songs, obviously.