Finding Home

Seien is re-introduced to the court. Familes are reintroduced to each other. Drama with Fluff, I-4

It was harder than Seien remembered, trying to pace in court robes. He kicked his over-robe aside one more time and swung his sleeves in frustration. “Can’t we go in yet?”

Sou-shougun watched him in completely unmoved amusement, arms crossed. He looked like he could be one of the pillars that held up the roof. “We’ll enter when the time is right, Seien-koushi.” He raised a dark eyebrow. “You used to know your strategy better than this.”

“If the idea is to have me accepted as easily as possible by the Court, again, why make a production of my return in the first place?” Seien grumbled. He wanted this to be happening faster.

Ryuuki was waiting in there.

Sou-shougun snorted. “Oh, stop being an idiot, boy! You know it has to be seen that your return is accepted and welcomed.” His mouth twisted. “By the Emperor, at any rate.”

That sounded enough like his old teacher that Seien relaxed a little and smiled up at his temporary guard. “And by his advisors?” he asked, lightly.

Sou-shougun’s moment of silence told Seien that his real question had been heard. Sou nodded, slow and firm. “And by us as well.”

That quiet tone drew Seien up straight and he inclined his head with the imperial dignity he’d had no use for in nearly seven years. “Thank you, Sou-taifu.”

And then a bell sounded inside the hall, and it was time.

Seien paced down the hall, between whispering rows of officials and courtiers, eyes fixed only on the Emperor. He knew his foster-father was here somewhere. He knew his brother would be, as well. But if he looked for either of them he didn’t think he’d be able to hold himself together. In this moment, he needed to be only the Prince, for the Court.

He knelt at the foot of the steps, waiting. He paid little attention to the words of pardon and welcome that Shou-taishi declaimed in the “ailing” Emperor’s name, only waiting, enduring, until the last flourish of that old voice told him it was time to rise, to climb the steps, to kneel again at the Emperor’s feet and take his father’s hands, completing this bit of theater.

The gold glint of his father’s eyes was wry, as their gazes met. Seien snorted a little and whispered, “Are you satisfied?”

“Probably only in death,” his father murmured back through still lips. “But this will do for now. Rise. Greet the inheritance you’ve agreed to take, my son.”

Seien’s jaw tightened, but he did stand and turn to face the Court. The roar that greeted Shou-taishi’s gesture of acclaim was distant in his ears; it reminded him of the sound of the riots, a year and a half ago. He knew his face was still as he looked out over them.

And then his gaze crossed the far corner of the dais and caught on a small figure in purple and the wide, wide eyes fixed on him. The world snapped back into focus and Seien smiled. Ryuuki lit up like the sun rising and abandoned ceremony and dashed to fling himself into Seien’s arms.

Arms that were held out for him, and all the watching eyes could just be damned.

Seien caught his brother close, burying a brilliant smile in soft, bright hair. “Ryuuki,” he whispered. “I’m back.”

“Aniue…!” It took a few long, shuddering breaths, but Ryuuki finally lifted his face, eyes wet and shining, to smile breathlessly up at Seien. “Welcome back,” he managed, voice wobbling.

Seien smoothed back Ryuuki’s hair tenderly and kept an arm around him as he turned to face the Court again; he could feel Ryuuki was still shaking.

This time, looking out over the people he had agreed to rule, his eyes were clear.

Seien finally managed to chase out all his new attendants and settle down on the side ledge in his new rooms, laughing, pulling Ryuuki down to sit in the curve of his arm. His brother hadn’t let go of his sleeve once since they’d left the hall. “I’m not going anywhere, Ryuuki. Not this time,” he promised.

“… okay.” Ryuuki’s answer was muffled in his shoulder, and Seien’s smile softened.

“Ryuuki…” He lifted his brother’s chin, looking him over closely, now that he had time. Ryuuki looked better, this year, than Seien had ever seen him, healthier and neater, starting to fill out, eyes bright and interested.

Not often as bright as they were right this moment, admittedly.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to make it back,” Seien said, soberly.

“It’s all right. I knew you’d come back someday.” Absolute trust filled Ryuuki’s voice and wrapped warmth around Seien.


Ryuuki nodded, happy with this. And then he looked around with a faint frown. “Oh. It’s getting late…” He nibbled his lip and leaned closer to Seien.

Touched by a hint of mischief Seien asked, “So, is it time to go see Shouka-sama, then?”

Ryuuki blinked, but seemed to take it for granted that, of course, his big brother knew everything. “Yeah!” He bounced to his feet and went to the door to peek out before nodding and silently gesturing Seien to come.

Seien was fairly sure they made an amusing sight, two princes, gaudy in purple, tiptoeing through the palace, avoiding their own guards, to go visit the Archivist like a couple of children hoping to steal sweets from the kitchen.

The strangest part was that it was… fun. He hadn’t expected that, when he’d thought about his return.

As soon as the Archive doors closed behind them, Ryuuki went running down the halls, pulling Seien behind him, to burst into the library room. “Shouka, look! Aniue is back!”

Shouka chuckled as he furled a scroll. “Yes, I saw.”

“Aniue? But… Seiran?”

Seien’s head whipped around to stare at the girl sitting at the window table. “Shuurei-chan?” She looked as bewildered as he suddenly felt. What was she doing here?

“Oh yes.” Shouka-sama smiled with perfectly ruthless calm. “Since Shuurei would be alone in the house, now, I thought it would be better for her to visit me more often.” He laid a hand on his daughter’s head and told her, “Our Seiran is also Seien-koushi.”

Shuurei’s eyes got big and she stared at Seien. He winced. Sure enough, it only took a few seconds for Shuurei-chan to start frowning. “You didn’t tell me.” Now she was downright glaring. “Seiran, you didn’t tell me!”

He raised a placating hand. “I’m very sorry, Shuurei-chan, it just…” Hadn’t seemed like a good idea to burden her with, but, knowing Shuurei-chan, he probably shouldn’t say that.

“Aniue.” Ryuuki tugged on the arm he still had possession of. “What do they mean? Seiran?”

Seien pulled in a long breath, trying not to feel harassed, and glowered briefly at his foster-father. “Ryuuki.” He knelt so that they were eye to eye. “Shouka-sama took care of me, while I was sent away from the courts. And,” he turned his head to include Shuurei, “because it was dangerous, the family called me Seiran, so no one would know who I was.”

Ryuuki and Shuurei eyed each other.

Seien sighed and held out his free hand to Shuurei, who hopped down from her chair to come take it. Ryuuki pressed closer against his side, and Seien tightened the arm around him, comfortingly. “Now, you two. Shuurei-chan, this is my younger brother, Ryuuki. Ryuuki, this is Shouka-sama’s daughter, Shuurei.” He smiled hopefully. “So, while Shouka-sama was taking care of Ryuuki, I was taking care of Shuurei.”

Shuurei looked at Ryuuki curiously. “Tou-sama was? I suppose the Emperor, your father, had work he had to do, didn’t he. But… couldn’t your mother?”

Seien felt Ryuuki flinch against him, but before he could decide what to do, Ryuuki looked down at his toes and muttered, “Don’t have a mother.”

“Oh.” Shuurei-chan’s eyes turned dark. She bit her lip and reached out her free hand to take Ryuuki’s. “I’m sorry. I don’t either.”

“Oh.” Ryuuki looked at her, and then at Shouka-sama, and then at Seien, bright eyes clouding with dilemma. “I guess… it’s time to give everyone back to the right family, then.”

Shuurei frowned ferociously for a moment, in thought, and then nodded, triumphant. “We can share!”

Ryuuki stared at her. “Really?”

“Really,” Shuurei stated firmly, and added in her best lecturing tone. “That’s what people do in hard times, just like the relief measures the government has when there’s a famine somewhere.”

Seien chuckled, as the two children smiled at each other, pleased with their pact, and looked up at Shouka-sama to see what he thought of being traded like a bushel of rice.

Shouka-sama wore his most serene smile. “Yes, I think that will work out. Don’t you?”

Seien blushed a little and gathered both the younger ones close. He knew Shouka-sama was tweaking him, gently, over how much he relied on the children’s love, their purity—on the fact that all of this was, in the end, for them because he certainly couldn’t see much else in this filthy world that deserved his sword to guard it.

But perhaps that was all right.


Last Modified: May 15, 12
Posted: Feb 22, 07
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visenya and 2 other readers sent Plaudits.

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  1. majochan



    I’m dead. Don’t worry, I’ll still shower you with squee and love even in the grave.

    The cute……….I’ve ODed. I’m dead.

    *squees and loves*


    1. branchandroot Post author

      *grinning* Sounds like this bit worked just the way I wanted it too.

      And I swear, I barely started to think about Shuurei and Ryuuki as little tykes, and this scene of them haggling over Seiran just about bowled me over. The Power of Cute is mighty.

      1. majochan

        Shuurei and Ryuuki are the true rulers of Saiunkoku. Seien/Seiran better figure out what he’ll do if they ever disagree, because he’s wrapped around both of their little fingers and it’ll hurt if they pull too hard……XD



        1. branchandroot Post author

          They totally are. *giggles* Of course, Ryuuki is on his way to being wrapped around Shuurei’s finger, too, so Seien is probably safe enough. The /kingdom/, on the other hand, had better watch out.

          1. majochan

            Aha, that solves the problem then! …So Shuurei ends up ruling Saiunkoku! *amused* The country better watch out indeed, if she’s able to speak intelligently on government relief measures when she’s……*mentally calculates*…9ish?

            …….*resists starting Empress Shuurei AU(???? would that even be AU?XD)s*


            1. branchandroot Post author

              Yeah, I’m not sure that would count as an AU–no matter which brother is Emperor!

              *dotes on Shuurei* Given what she knows at 17, you have to figure she was a precocious child; probably learned to read using Dad’s paperwork or something. *tries to remember dates* I think by this time she’s ten or going-on-eleven.

              1. majochan

                In addition to the normal bunnies, I have got the urge to draw Empress Shuurei.@_@ Ugh. *tries to detach bunnies from ankles*

                And just as a side-note, not sure how consistent you wanted to be with canon, but Shuurei usually refers to Shouka as “Tou-sama” instead of “Chichiue” (Which is slightly strange, because practically everyone else uses the -ue forms for their family members).

                Seien is so lucky.^^


                1. branchandroot Post author

                  Ack! *facepalm* I looked that up, too, for the later stories! I thought I’d caught all the address forms that I had to change, but I guess not. *sighs* Thank you!

                  *sparkles* Oooo, Empress Shuurei? *offers the bunny a carrot*

                    1. majochan

                      *sends bunnies your way* Here, you feed them then!^^;;;;;;

                      After Capable Falcon, I’m going to have to find some place to house all the bunnies that came in the interim…@_@


                    2. grey-damaskena

                      ::amused:: Don’t send them to me, I’m cruel to bunnies. Have been whacking the defenseless things for XP and LP and PROFIT in FF12 lately.

                      Ooo, more bunnies have come? Now that Capable Falcon’s done surely it’s time for the next thing! By all means you should share news of these excellent bunnies!

                      Give in to the bunny . . .

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *hearts* Thank you!

      *giggling* Shuurei’s probably going to be embarrassed to be reminded of this, when she’s old enough to really understand that, yes, her Seiran is /Emperor/.

  2. written-in-blue

    Oh my gawd, so much cuteness. I am awash in a sea of cute!

    …has he gone from thinking of himself as Seiran to thinking of himself as Seien since the last fic? *checks* Okay, last fic he was switching back and forth. This fic, no Seirans at all… *rooting around*

    …very subtle. *grins* Nice.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Ah, thank you love; I was hoping someone would notice the names. It continues to switch off a bit, depending on who he’s with and how he’s relating to them. The reunion with Ryuuki did push him very firmly back into Seien for a while.

        1. branchandroot Post author

          *nods* It seems, so far, that dealing with Shouka is most likely to move him into Seiran. Interestingly enough, he tends to think as Seiran when he’s outraged over something political, too. Shuurei often pushes him that way, but not always; I think it depends a bit on whether Ryuuki is there, too.

  3. grey-damaskena

    aaaaah so much happiness it defies words.

    Wow. Senka is quite intriguing, too bad he doesn’t last longer. Really, the early years of Saiunkoku, when Senka was establishing his reign, when the Big Three advisors were young, are practically begging for fanfic writers to take liberties. So much excellent history that never gets addressed. Nevertheless, your Senka pleases me greatly; a very complex man established in very few lines.

    Ryuuki is indeed made of adorable, I am very much pleased. Adorable reunion scenes for the win! And Ryuuki gets his beloved brother back and gains a friend . . . all in one day, an embarassment of rich gifts! Poor lonely kid, he deserves all of that and more.

    And as for Seien, he gets to keep both of the chibis. Ah, the lucky guy, surrounded by such cute his happiness is assured. He gets to have his manju bun and eat it, too . . . surely returning is worth it, wouldn’t you say, Seien? 🙂

    Aaaah, I feel like I just had a good meal.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *hearts* Thank you!

      I had a good time writing this one, especially after the angst I’d just put poor Seien through. Not that All Is Well quite yet, of course, but he does have a much better outlook now. ^_^

      Senka really has turned out to be a complex character, despite his rare appearances. I am very tempted to see if any young!Senka bunnies come calling. Especially if I could get him before and after his light-of-love died.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *wry* Yeah, Majo caught that for me last night. *makes face* I caught that one, about a story and a half on, and then forgot to change it in this one.

  4. hisoka44

    Thank you! Thank you very much for sharing this with us. <3
    (…and for giving me yet another reason to squee over Seiran, Ryuuki and the rest. *g* Not that I’d really need another ‘excuse’ for doing so. ^__^v)

    BTW, what were the first two chapters/installments of the “Age of Silver” arc? Stupid li’l me can’t remember right now…>__<;;

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Most welcome, glad to hear you liked it! *grins* Squeeing over them is so much fun.

      The first is “The Road Not Taken” and the second is “The Wind Cries”.

  5. sparrow-wings

    I like the bit about “imperial dignity,” because you’re right, that isn’t one of Seiran’s more prominent qualities in canon. And I like the change from “his face was still” to “his eyes were clear.”

    Wee Shuurei and Wee Ryuuki are the cutest things to ever walk the earth. 🙂

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Thank you! They really are just adorable; and they manage to make things better for each other. *chuckles* Which, I swear, is half the point of this whole arc.

  6. mitsuhachi@insanejournal

    “Really,” Shuurei stated firmly, and added in her best lecturing tone. “That’s what people do in hard times, just like the relief measures the government has when there’s a famine somewhere.” Oh man, Shuurei, how so awesome? I love the image of bitty!shuurei spouting off this complicated social policy, “relief measures” lol.

    And I suspect rather strongly that this is the moment Ryuuki falls in love with her, in this timeline. <3 So good.

    1. Icon for BranchBranch Post author

      Hee, she was so much fun to write! Such a tiny, serious thing. And I totally think it’s love at first sight for Ryuuki. *grins*

    1. Icon for BranchBranch Post author

      Finding ways to motivate him properly really was the biggest challenge of this arc; I think it would be really easy for him to be a very cold ruler because he’s so disillusioned with humanity in general and the court in particular. But the Power of Cute will save the day!