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Royal Persuasions

I finally finished! A WMatsui one-shot

Requested by foreverloveakbske48


Royal Persuasions

 

I sit across my betrothed.

At least, that was what my parents had introduced me to her as, only a few hours ago.

 

———— Earlier That Day —————

 

“I am not getting married to someone I have never met in my entire life!”

Even when I spin round, to look away from my parents, I know they were upset with my attitude. But what did they expect? They can’t just ship me off to another kingdom and expect me to just marry some person. It is unbelievable.

“Please Rena, understand.” my father beseeched. “It is for the sake of the kingdom.”

I feel my stomach churn at the mention of our kingdom; Amairia. The land that once was the main trader of baked goods and sweet products, a blooming country, is now poor and suffering from drought. The grain fields are dying and the sugar mines exhausted. It was disastrous. With no flour to make bread or sugar to make sweets, our main exported goods were no longer available. And as a result, poverty struck Amairia. Our people, who were once joyous and glad they lived here, now constantly suffering from poverty and illness. My father and mother, the King and Queen of Amairia, have constantly been pleading at every annual Royal Council meeting for the other kingdoms to help. However, no help has come.

Even today, after returning from the meeting, my parents received no aid whatsoever. However, at the meeting there was one person who had been happy to help, sharing their knowledge of plants and preservation, but at a cost.

And the price…was me.

The Prince of Alachoca, the kingdom known for its chocolate goods, had offered to help the kingdom, if I become the Prince’s wife.  

“Rena…”

I turn round at my mother’s quivering voice. My heart breaks as I see the glittering tracks of tears running down her cheeks.

“Please, just come to the meeting.” my mother begs. “You just have to see the Prince. That’s all.”

This is the first time I’ve ever seen my mother cry. The usually outgoing and fearless woman, reduced to tears, begging me… it is terrifying.

“…Okay.” I agree.

 

————— Present —————

 

We have been sitting in silence for at least 15 minutes, since my parents had left us alone in the room. And during this whole time, the Prince has just stared at me, her gaze never leaving me.

“It’s rude to stare.” I snap.

However, instead of being fazed, the Prince just smirks. I grit my teeth at her cocky smile, glaring at the renown Prince of Alachoca.

In the Eastern world, where Amairia and Alachoca and other countries resigned, the Prince was well known, for being a woman. Being the only heir of Alachoca, with its vast riches and prospering country, she apparently legally changed her title to Prince, which was unorthodox as it is. (According to rumours, it was one of the conditions within her parents’ will.) But what made this ruler even more unusual was that the Prince was only 16 years old.

And there is no way I am going to marry a 16 year old girl, who is six years my junior.

“May I ask what your name is?” she suddenly asks.

“…Matsui Rena.” I stoically reply.

“Oh, my name is Matsui Jurina. How odd.” she proclaims. “Perhaps we should address each other by our first names, not to cause any confusion.”

Before I could even dispute this suggestion, she continues, “Rena-san, how do you feel today?”

I feel the already lingering anger start to build.

“Except from being forced to marry you?” I snap. “Oh pretty good.” I sarcastically bark.

“I’m glad to hear that.” Jurina calmly replies.

I stare at her with astonishment, her face decorated with a smile that I would even call innocent. You would think she was just a normal teenager, if it weren’t for her glorious white suit, with the Alachoca crest embroiled into the breast pocket. It makes the building fire within me roar with rage.

“And about before, about me staring, I was just wondering… How can somebody be so beautiful?”

Beside myself, I feel a blush creep onto my cheeks. I’m sure it’s because of my fury, rather than her comment. Forget about innocent. This girl is trouble.

“I’m leaving.” I state, standing up. I’ve had enough of this. 

However, she only looks at me, simply saying, “You can’t.”

I glance down at her with confusion, resentment, and a sudden alarm.

“Why?” I ask.

“You’re parents have already gone.” she calmly answers.

A sudden sinking feeling engulfs me, as if the world had collapsed from under my feet and I am falling. My throat closes and a petrifying dread fills my body. Gone? There was no way.

“What?” I say, though her words were clearly ringing in my head. “No way.”

Before she can stop me, I run out of the room, running to the neighbouring room where my parents said they would wait for me. I bang on the door.

“Mother!” I call. “Father!”

With no reply, I attempt to open the door. Immediately the door opens, and as if my nightmares have come to life, the room is empty.

“Mother! Father!”

I search all of the rooms, but as if new, the room remained untouched.

“Rena-san?” I hear Jurina’s voice behind me, at the entrance of the door.

However, too consumed with panic, I push past her. I dash to the reception, my chest hurting from the sudden exertion, the concept of breathing gone from my head. In seconds I reach the reception. My head frantically searches the room, looking for the familiarity of my parents.

“Mother! Father!” I repeat again, my voice shrill and urgent.

There is no sign of them. With my last hope, I rush outside, hurrying past the couple that entered the inn. I breathe in the warm, sweet air as I stand at the entrance. And as my eyes glaze across the vast landscape before me, I only notice one thing.

Our carriage is gone.

Finally my legs give way, and I fall to my knees.

“They really did leave me…” I mutter, despair devouring me.

My body is numb from the realisation. I really was left behind. How could they do this to me? Didn’t they love me? I see drops of water land on the ground below me and realise they are my tears.

Suddenly I feel a small hand on my quivering shoulder. I look up and see Prince Jurina, staring at me with a seriousness, sympathy and kindness that I’ve only ever seen once.

“I’m sorry.”  she says, making me helplessly scoff, which she ignores. “Come with me. I’ll take care of you.”

I feel the streams of tears run down my face. However, even in my state, I hesitate. Af if sensing this, she offers her hand.

“Give me a chance.”

I place my hand on hers. And even against all my instincts, I am persuaded by the warmth of her hand and comforting smile.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

The very next day, I woke up in the unfamiliar, but now my, room. And as soon as I opened my eyes, I immediately saw a stunning white wedding dress hanging on my bedroom door.

The ceremony was quick and private. There were only us two in her office, with her signing the marriage certificate, and me signing afterwards. Then, I was alone in my personal bedroom, still in my stunning white wedding dress.

It was not exactly the wedding ceremony I was imagining. Not even my parents had come. But then again, I haven’t seen them since they deserted me in a random kingdom.

It has now been a week since then.

I head down to the massive corridor, going to one destination. The only place in this palace that I actually like. However, I am not alone. Yagami Kumi, my personal maid, stepped closely behind. Back at home, I also had someone like that. Furukawa Airi. The one person who I confined with about everything. Kumi is nice enough, but she only reminds me of my best friend. A sudden longing fills me. Even with everything that has happened, I still miss my family and home.

With each corner I turn, there is someone waiting, bowing as I go pass, bowing to their new Princess. The Princess of Alachoca. I feel something itch at my insides at this thought. I am not used to this title. But then again, I’m not used to any of this. Being here, living here, and being married to Prince Jurina. Who could be comfortable in my situation?

I open the massive wooden paned doors and step outside, and I am instantly surrounded by the scent of chocolate and flowers. This is the palace gardens. I take the watering can that is in the same place I left it yesterday and I begin my journey.

From anemones to aster taticuses, bluebells to tulips, cherry blossoms to edelweiss’s, hibiscuses to hydrangeas, lavender to jasmine, spider lilies to morning glories, violets to zinnias, to many more. Endless amount of flowers, colours and scents creating a harmonic atmosphere. This is the one place I actually like.

There is one particular part of the gardens that I particularly like; the rose garden. However, it is no ordinary rose garden. Within this part of the royal gardens, there are only white, brown and black roses, the colours of chocolate. And with each colour, there is a distinctive scent that emanates from them when they are lightly watered. The white roses produce a white chocolate smell. Brown roses, a milk chocolate scent. And the black roses, a bitter chocolate perfume.

Finishing my cycle, which usually takes about an hour, I return to the patio. The garden was shaped in a large semi-circle and I usually start from the right, and come back round to the left. I just have one more patch of camellias to water, and then I will be finished. When I come round, I see a figure at the patio. However, instead of Kumi who is usually waiting for me, Jurina is there, sitting on one of the deck chairs. My grip on the handle suddenly tightens. I don’t want to see her now. But then again, when do I ever? I barely get through the mandatory dinner we have together. Plus, she’s usually at some meeting or sorting some kingdom business that I have no interest in. So, why is she here?

I see her grin when she sees me, slowly walking towards her. Even though she has been nothing but civil to me, it still irks me. I stop at the patches of red and yellow camellias, just next to the edge of the patio. I hear the wooden planks support her light steps, until the nearest ones to me sounded Jurina’s arrival.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Watering the flowers.” I reply, not even bothering to look up at her.

“You don’t have to do that. We have gardeners.” she says.

“I want to.” And suddenly, I ask. “Why don’t you help?”

I don’t know why I just said that. And with the moment of silence that followed, I am sure Jurina herself is shocked. I quickly begin to think of reasons of my outburst and why I didn’t mean it, but then she said;

“I rather not.”

Surprise makes me look up at Jurina. She had a rather displeased look on her face, one that is almost scornful. Annoyance immediately fills me.

“Why?” I bark. “Is this type of work too lowly for your Highness?”

Jurina looks at me, her eyes wide with disbelief.

“It’s not that.” she immediately exclaims. “It’s just…”

I wait for her to finish, giving her reason. All of the sudden, I see a flash of sadness in her eyes and for some reason I feel guilty.

“…You wouldn’t understand.”

And with that, Jurina left again, leaving me alone. And though I should be rejoicing, I can’t help but feel bad. And though it shouldn’t have, her words hurt me more than I thought they would.

 

That night, Jurina did not come down for dinner.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

I sigh as the rain patters at my window. I am stuck inside, with nothing to do but read a book. However, all I want to do is step outside and go to the gardens. But with the endless dark clouds hovering in the sky, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Suddenly there is a knock on my door. I expect it to be Kumi.

“Come in.” I call.

However, when she steps in, I realise it isn’t Kumi. It is Prince Jurina. She smiles, as if nothing happened, while I frown.

“I just wanted to tell you that dinner will be a bit later than usual.” she states, calmly looking around my room.

This is the first time she has been in my room since my arrival. And though it is her palace, I don’t like it that she is making herself so at home in my room.

“I understand.” I say, expecting her to leave.

However, she doesn’t. Instead she just stands in the centre of the room, looking at me intensely. Yet again, I feel a blush rise to my cheeks.

“Is something the matter Prince Jurina?” I can’t help but ask.

“Call me Jurina.”

She gently smiles. But it is soon replaced by the previous serious expression.

“I would like to apologise for my behaviour and for missing dinner yesterday. It was my fault and it was unreasonable.” 

I stare at her, amazement at Jurina’s statement. How can someone so young so easily admit her own wrong doings? Even I have difficulty confessing that I’m wrong. Was she truly this mature, or was it a façade? But then again, perhaps being the ruler of a kingdom does that to someone. Makes a person grow faster than they should. I silently watch as she examines my reaction.

“…Isn’t it tough?” I ask.

“What is?” she replies.

There it is again. The innocence that makes me remember she is not yet an adult.

“Running the country. Isn’t it tough, even though you’re so young?”

Jurina looks at me, another gaze piercing me.

“I could say the same for you.” she replies.

“What do you mean?”

“Isn’t it hard being married to someone you don’t love?”

I feel myself freeze, her gaze never faltering. I want to break the eye contact, but I can’t move, as if I am caught in her web. Even though it is true, I feel myself unable to speak, feeling a slight twinge of pain in my chest. However, just when I think I am about to turn away, Jurina turns and walks back to the door.

“I will see you at dinner.” she says and closes the door behind her.

I release a breath that I didn’t know I was holding and wonder what the pain that I felt in my chest was.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

The dining room is silent. All that is heard is the chink of china and cutlery. Every dinner is the same, with me sitting on one side, and with Jurina on the other. Just across each other, probably a little over a metre apart. In total silence. I chew the sweet carrot, watching as Jurina nibbled on the bit of fish at the end of chopsticks. Swallowing the carrot and my nervousness, I put down my chopsticks. Jurina looks up from her plate, hearing the soft clatter.

“Yesterday…” I begin, keeping my voice steady. “You didn’t answer my question.”

She looks at me, the same penetrating stare that makes me freeze but my insides jitter.

“Neither did you.”

This is true. But I can’t bring myself to answer her question. How can I, with such a piercing question. Suddenly, she breaks her gaze, just like yesterday. But I can’t help but watch her. How she holds her chopsticks, how she moves the single grain of rice around the rim of her bowl, how she looks down at the side dish with a certain sadness I’ve only seen once before. In the one place that I like. The one place that seemed to bring pain to the usual blissful Jurina.

“I didn’t ask to be the prince of a massive kingdom.” I hear her softly mutter.

A sudden sympathy overcomes me. She truly was only 16 years old. My eyes watch her look back up at me, meeting my gaze once more.

“I didn’t ask to be princess of a massive kingdom.” I return.

I see her lightly smile and I feel a soft warmth envelop me that even I smile.

“Ever since my parents died, I was left to rule in their place. At first, it was difficult. I wondered, ‘why me?’. But then, when I first dealt with a problem from a citizen, I felt good. This power, which was suddenly put onto me, could be used to help people. As a responsibility to my parents and the people of this country, I must fulfil that duty. Though it is tough, I don’t regret my decision.”

Jurina finishes with a grin, and looks at me. I can tell she wants to answer. I take a deep breath in.

“Ever since my parents forced and abandoned me, I had no choice but to marry the rich prince of the neighbouring kingdom. And because of this, I chose to follow the prince.” I pause, seeing the flash of hurt show on Jurina’s face, but I smile. “I wondered, ‘why me?’ But then, I came to this wonderful country and began to fit into this new place. The prince was welcoming and friendly and she soon began to grow on me. And though I did not enjoy it at the beginning, even hated it, I too do not regret my decision.”

“I see.” Jurina simply replies. But from her grin, I can tell that she is happy. “Seems this prince can be quite persuasive.” she adds.

I feel a smile play on my lips as I resume my dinner. “Indeed.”

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

From then on, as the weeks passed, my relationship with Jurina has built. Every time I watched her help a citizen and sort out a problem, I felt myself begin to admire her more and more. And though I didn’t want to at the start, I feel my feelings for her evolve into something further than affection. But was this one-sided?

As I come out from within the gardens, I see Jurina waiting in the same spot, sitting on her patio chair. She waves at me as I come up to her, carrying the same watering can. As I step up to the camellias, I feel her watch me begin to water them. Even though I can’t see, I know she is wearing the same melancholic expression, the one that makes my heart hurt.

Keeping my eyes focussed on the tiny drops on the red and yellow petals, I ask, “Why did you want to marry me?”

There is a pause and I wait, listening to the light showers that quenched the flowers’ thirst. However, my thirst for information still was not satisfied.

“If I remember correctly, it was ten years ago.” Jurina suddenly says.

“What was?”

“When I first decided I wanted to marry you.”

 

————— 10 Years Ago —————

 

“Now Jurina, you stay good while I sort out some business with the King of Amairia.”

“Okay Papa.” nodded the young girl, before gallivanting off down the massive palace corridor.

In a matter of seconds, young Jurina became lost for it was her first time in the kingdom of Amairia. However, being an adventurous six year old, Jurina was not worried. She would find her way to her father some way. Right now, it was exploring time.

A while later, after disturbing nearly all the palace maids, Jurina was guided to the palace gardens where she could play to her heart’s content. Immediately dashing to the outside, the young girl giggles as she danced around the blooming flowers. Soon, she jumped deep into the maze of green, the hedges growing a least a metre taller than Jurina. However, she continued deeper, wondering how far the gardens reached until the end. Finally, following the hedges, she came across a figure. She paused, wondering who the girl was.

The stranger was kneeling down, her long skirt tucked neatly under her knees to keep from touching the ground. She was just staring at the flowers in front of her; lightly brushing the petals of the honey suckles in front of her. Her raven mane was long and straight, and all Jurina wanted to do was touch it to see if it was as soft as it looked, just as the older girl was doing to the flowers.

Suddenly the figure turned and Jurina jolted as her gaze immediately landed on hers. Jurina instantly wanted to run away, but she was frozen by the pretty gaze. She could only think that the girl was extremely cute, and even cuter when she smiled at Jurina.

“Come here.” the onee-san calls. “Don’t be shy.”

Jurina puffed in her chest and walked towards the stranger. No one called her shy. The girl’s smile did not falter, even when Jurina was standing right beside her.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Jurina.” quietly answers Jurina. 

“That’s a nice name.” she said, making Jurina grin. “My name’s Rena.”

“Rena…onee-san?”

Rena’s smile grew. “Yes Jurina-chan?”

Jurina giggles, excitement at having, for the first time, an older sister. “Can I play with you?”

Jurina watched as Rena lightly patted her hands and stood up. Then, she took Jurina’s small hand into hers, letting Jurina feel the kind warmth.

“Let’s go Jurina-chan.”

Tall, thin yellow trees towered over Jurina, trees she had never seen before. However, she allowed Rena to guide her, her hand still warm in her hand, the trees reaching Rena’s shoulders. 

“Where are we Rena onee-san?”

“We’re in the middle of the wheat fields.”

“Wheat fields?”

“Yes. All these tall yellow plants you see, there are grains at every end of each stem. And with these, we can make flour, which can be used to make goods such as bread and cakes.”

“So these aren’t trees?”

Rena laughed at Jurina’s innocent question. “No they’re not. But I guess to someone small like you, they do seem rather like trees.”

A sudden irritation filled Jurina. “I’m not small.” she snapped, taking her hand back from Rena’s, already missing the warmth.

Rena looked down at Jurina, secretly smirking at the young girl’s reaction. “But you are small.” Rena teased once more.

“I am not!”Jurina cried.

Almost on the verge of tears, Rena decided she shouldn’t tease her anymore.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” apologises Rena. “Do you forgive me?” she asked, putting out her hand.

Jurina momentarily stares at the hand, before saying, “Okay.” And she takes Rena’s hand once more, feeling the secure warmness.

“Papa said I was big. And I will grow bigger.” Jurina explains. “And one day I will be the Prince of Alachoca and marry a pretty lady.”

“Prince?” Rena inquired. “Don’t you mean Princess?”

“I don’t want to be a Princess. I want to be a Prince. That way I can marry a Princess.”

Rena stared at the tiny person, wondering if she understood what she was saying. However, Rena smiled.

“I see. I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful prince.”

Jurina looks up, with a wide grin on her face. “You think so?”

“I do.” Rena smiled. “Maybe I should marry you.” she mused.

“Really?” exclaimed Jurina. “Well, you are pretty and nice and you are the Princess. Maybe I will marry you.”

Rena chuckled again. “Well, I think we’ll have to wait until you’re older. Let’s see if you become the wonderful prince you say you are going to become.”

“I will!” cheered Jurina. “You’ll see!”

And with that, the two became lost within the field of yellow, unknowingly promising each other themselves.

 

—————- Present —————

 

“And from them on, I knew I would make the Princess of Amairia my wife.”

I stare at Jurina, unable to speak. I now remember that day, that was long buried with the other happy memories of my childhood after the hardships of Amairia began. But Jurina… she actually remembered, after all this time. I feel my heart pound against my chest and an unusual joy rise up to my throat, making the grin of my face grow. And just like that, I allow myself begin to hope that this love, wasn’t one-sided after all.

I remain still as Jurina comes down from the patio deck, watching me intently. Even when her face is just inches from my own, I remain still, letting myself be mesmerised by the dark pupils.

And when I feel the soft lips on mine, I know I am never going to leave.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

Chocolate scents envelope me as I lightly water the rose garden. However, though usually my mind is clear and tranquil when I’m in the garden, today it was in turmoil. All I can think about is yesterday, and that kiss. Even the thought of it brings a burning blush to my cheeks. Yet, there is something else. I want to do kiss her again.

As I come to the end of the gardens, I expect Jurina to be sitting in her deck chair, waiting for me. However, she isn’t. The longing and emptiness hits me like a wave, but I subdue it. She is the ruler after all. She probably has more pressing issues to deal with then to wait for me. I begin to water the camellias, losing myself in the task.

Suddenly I feel a familiar hand cover mine as I hold the watering can, making me jump. However, a distinct warmth radiated from the hand me, and I instantly recognise who it is. With an easy lift, Jurina and I both start to water the blooming flowers. I sense another blush rise to my face and spread down my neck, but I focus on the flowers in front of me and not on how soft Jurina’s hand feels.

There is a moment of pure harmony, where we just stand in silence, listening to the light drizzle of water.

 “Do you remember I told you I wouldn’t water the flowers?” Jurina mutters.

“Yes.”

“I couldn’t do it because, these flowers, were my mother’s favourite.”

I gaze down at the red camellias. From I know, red camellias represented love, while yellow represents longing and white represents waiting. It is the flower of devotion.

“It was the first flower my father had given her.” continues Juina. “And every year, on their anniversary, my father would give my mother a different type of flower. And each year, my mother would plant that particular type of flower, until it became this garden. This garden, my mother tended to every one of her flowers personally. Planting each seed, watering each day, covering each branch in the winter. This place was her creation and the proof of my father’s gift to her.”

I did not know that this garden held so much value. I knew that it was impressive, with the vast amount of plant species, but I never would have guessed it was the product of such love and adoration between two people.     

“Your parents must have loved each other very much.”

“Yes, they did.” she quietly answered, making me very aware that she is still holding my hand. “I always aspired to become like them. So trusting and devoted to each other… I wished that one day I would find a love like theirs.”

I bring myself to look at her, and I observe her as she continues to stare at the flowers below us.

“And…have you?” I hear myself say.

I see the edge of her lips curl into a sentimental smile. “I’m not sure.”

I can’t help but feel a sinking feeling in my chest. However, she suddenly glances up at me, catching me in another one of her penetrating gazes.

“But I think… I might have found the one.”

Deafening drumming resonates in my ears, so loud that I swear I misheard what Jurina just said. However, my pounding heart knew what I heard is reality.

“However, at the moment, I’m persuading her to fall for me.”

That cheeky grin that previously made me infuriated, makes me grin with delight.

“I think… if you tell her, she wouldn’t need any more persuading.”

“Oh really?” Jurina smirks.

All of the sudden, Jurina takes the watering can from my and places it on the ground. The next thing I know, I am running with her as she drags me back into the depths of the garden. Among the cherry blossom trees, she stops us, and I watch her turn to me. I instinctively hold my breath as Jurina deeply inhales. She reaches out and gently grasps my hands.

“Rena, I love you.”

There was absolutely no hesitation in Jurina’s voice. She just came out and said it.

In an instant, I feel my heart soar. So much happiness overwhelms me so quickly that I feel tears of relief.

“Jurina…” I shakily return. Taking a deep breath in, I smile through the tears that shine in my eyes.

“I love you too.”

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

Bells chime and doves fly in the air. People of the kingdom and neighbouring royalty cheer. My parents are among them, tears in their eyes. I’m not sure if they are tears of regret or happiness, but I don’t think about it too much. I had already forgiven them.

I look across at Jurina, the King and ruler of Alachoca, who held tightly onto my hands as the Alachoca’s high priest marries us again. Gazing at Jurina, at my support, at my love, I let myself become one with her. And as I, the Queen of Alachoca, have the wedding of my dreams, I can’t help but think I am the luckiest person in the world.

 

————— Epilogue —————

 

“But your Highness, this is absolutely unreasonable!”

“I agree. To request such a thing, it is impossible!”

I stare across the throne room, at the two men standing before me and Jurina. The man on the left is the chief of the Amairia flour exports, which had been blooming over the recent months. On the right, we have the chief of Alachoca chocolate exports. And both of them looked as if they are going to burst.

“Please gentlemen, calm down.” says Jurina. “It is my wife’s proposition, and I would like you to hear it out.”

Immediately they quiet down. I smile at Jurina, thanking her for her assistance, then concentrate on the two men in front of me.

“Gentlemen, I understand your reluctance to begin this alliance. And though this plan may seem outrageous, I do not believe it cannot be done. With Amairia’s newly restored wheat fields and Alachoca’s vast supply of chocolate, it would be easy to combine the two products to make one, i.e. a chocolate pastry.”

The two still look unconvinced, as expected. This would the first time two kingdoms have combined their exports and shared the profits. It would require great cooperation and patience and there was even risk of arguments which could take a turn for the worst. However, it was a risk that we and my parents were willing to take.

“This would be the first partnership of two kingdoms, to bring to public a greater product than a kingdom alone could never do. This is the beginning of an advancement and evolution. And gentlemen, we want you to be part of this. We want you to be the leading chiefs, the faces if you will, of this amazing project.”

As I look at their changing expressions, I know I have they caught. Who wouldn’t want to be known as the leading characters of the first ever alliance between two of the most influential kingdoms in the Eastern world?  

“But I guess if you really don’t want to,” I dejectedly shrug. “we can find other people…”

“No!” “Wait!”

I try to hide my grin.

“We will do it.” they chorused.

I shoot them my best thankful expression. “Really? That would be wonderful. Speaking on behalf of the kingdoms, we are forever grateful to have you two great men as part of the team.”  

As I smile at the excitedly discussing men, talking about future plans and meetings, I glance at Jurina. She smirks at me knowingly. I smirk back.

Two more victims of the royal persuasions. 

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