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Saiunkoku Monogatari » The Age of Silver » The Color of the Phoenix’s Tail – Part Three

The Color of the Phoenix’s Tail – Part Three

Shuurei likes her life but wants it to be something more. Drama, I-3

Shuurei rested her chin in her hands and sighed. Normally, something like the Council record on the table in front of her was her favorite kind of thing to read, telling all about how the officials who ran the country struggled as hard among themselves as any soldiers to reach the best conclusions and policies they could. And, at first, she’d been delighted to come to the palace with her father and play in the Archives. It had been even better when he’d let her help out with sorting the records, and let her read anything she wanted. Now, though…

“Oh, I see!” Ryuuki exclaimed, across the table from her. “So Finance balances all of the other departments, really… “

Now, it was just reminding her that she wouldn’t ever get to use this knowledge. She sighed again.

“Shuurei?” Seiran came to stand beside her, leaving his own scrolls. “Is anything wrong?”

She mustered a smile for him; Seiran always worried so much when she was upset. “No, it’s all right. I was just…” her voice wavered a little, despite everything she could do, “wishing I could be an official and do something good with all this.”

Seiran’s worried look softened into sympathy. “I wish you could, too,” he said, softly. “I think you’d do a better job than most of the officials we have right now.”

“Mm.” She swallowed and managed a slightly better smile. “It would be nice to really belong here.”

Ryuuki, watching them with a small frown, brightened up at that. “Oh, that’s easy. When we grow up, I’ll marry you, Shuurei, and then you can always be here.”

Shuurei picked up one of the books and hit him over the head with it. Gently, of course; she always took good care of her books. “Stupid,” she declared. “If I got married to you I’d be stuck in the inner courts forever and ever and never get to do anything.”

Ryuuki gave her a hangdog look, hands protectively over his head. “It was just an idea.”

She glowered at him, and Seiran laughed. “Well, even if it is a little selfish of me, it’s nice to have you here to help us,” he said. His smile tilted ruefully. “You’re both better at this than I am, still.”

It was Ryuuki’s turn to lean his chin in his hands. “So, we just have to find a way for Shuurei to stay, and then we can both always be here to help you, Aniue.”

Seiran looked happy enough, at the thought, that Shuurei stopped glowering and smiled at Ryuuki again.

She did wonder just a little, though, if staying here was really the right thing to do.

Shuurei stared down at the vegetables she was chopping, not really seeing them.

She felt strange, lately. Restless. Angry over nothing, sometimes. She caught Tou-sama and Seiran looking at her in worried ways. Maybe she just needed something to do—but what? If she cooked any more, all three of the men wouldn’t be enough to eat it all. She could only clean for so long at a time before boredom made her want to scream. And Seiran had insisted on hiring workers to fix the roof, so she couldn’t teach herself to do repairs.

She bit her lip, knife slowing. There was that young woman she’d heard the other day while she was out shopping. The woman had said that her employer, Kochou, really needed to hire more young women. And she’d mentioned the district; it wasn’t too far away.

Shuurei had liked the way that young women had held herself—tall and confident. Maybe if Shuurei had her own work, not just work borrowed from the men, she’d feel like she could walk that way too.

“Right! I’ve decided,” Shuurei told the empty kitchen. “I’m going to get a job of my very own!”

And then maybe they’d at least be able to hire someone to take care of the garden, without letting Seiran use imperial money on it.

She turned her attention properly back to her chopping, humming with the pleasure of having made a decision. She should remember how much that helped, for next time she felt out-of-sorts.


Last Modified: Sep 26, 08
Posted: Feb 24, 07
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  1. majochan

    Shuureiiiiiii<3 <3 <3

    I need a cute Shuurei icon. *decides*

    I love Ryuuki’s logic in this, and how Shuurei’s hitting him gently because she takes good care of her BOOKS. <3


    1. branchandroot Post author

      *hearts* I love Shuurei dearly; she’s just so determined to be /responsible/.

      Really, she and Ryuuki will be good for each other. She can teach him to be serious, and he can teach her not to be. ^_^

        1. grey-damaskena

          They really do make an awesome pair. We haven’t seen it yet . . . but I fear for the WORLD if they ever decide to work together on something. No one would be able to stand in their way.

          ::hugs her OTP:: It’s so shiny . . . and so bizarrely rare . . .

          1. branchandroot Post author

            *sighs* Yeah. Really, it seems like very few people appreciate Shuurei. /Or/ how big her dilemma is. Of course, that isn’t entirely western fen’s fault, since the anime, at least, hasn’t made it clear that she really would be going into lifelong confinement if she married the Emperor. But still! Talk about an epic conflict.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *grinning* Well, she /is/ a librarian’s daughter, after all. I bet if he’d taught her his /other/ trade, she’d be just as meticulous about her knives…

      *trips over a bunny and falls flat*

      … fuck! Where’s my flamethrower when I need it?

            1. grey-damaskena

              I’m sure I don’t know. ::serene:: I’ll leave that up to you. But if it’s her beloved otousan, surely it’s not inconcievable. Certainly Shuurei appears to have even more trauma than we realized in her past (from hints of what’s in store next season), and trauma can justify any number of things. As can loyalty, and love.

              ::hides:: No, I’m not the person who’s working on an Assassin Ryuuki AU. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

              1. branchandroot Post author

                *grumbles* Well. I suppose of Shoukun knew Hyou would likely come after her girl and told Shouka to teach her how to defend herself…

                If you keep working on assassin!Ryuuki, I’ll think about it.

                1. grey-damaskena

                  That sounds like a good start to me. ::beams::

                  I’m working on it! Kinda. Well, I’m kinda working on four different Saiunkoku projects at once, but that’s one of them, so.

  2. grey-damaskena

    Huzzah for Shuurei-centric! Considering that the series is about her, I find that she gets alarmingly little attention. 😉 Of course I’m at fault as much as anyone else, given my own obsessions, but even so.

    In any case I really like how you depicted Shuurei’s restlessness and frustration. Certainly it makes sense to me that she wouldn’t wait for the boys to come up with some way to help her out– of course she’d go forward and try to better her situation on her own! It’s Shuurei to a T.

    It’s going to be interesting to see her balancing her connection to the palace with her soon to be Real Job. I imagine Shouka’s going to stop by once she’s started and make the same request he did in-series? Is Seiran going to do the same? ::hides under the table and waves her crack-pairing flag::

    Just out of curiosity, how old are the various members of the main cast at this point (Seien, Ryuuki, Shuurei)?

    It’s so nice having something to read every day, I thank you like woah. 😀

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *hearts* I love Shuurei dearly. (Even when I think she needs to haul off and knee people in the nuts more often…) I especially love that she is so wonderfully independent, and yet it isn’t because she’s sparklingly perfect, it’s because she’s just as marked and scarred by life as everyone else, and this is how she lives with it.

      *grins* Shouka will certainly stop by. I think Seiran will as well, which I will have to write at some point, because that will be his first meeting with Kouchou. Incognito, of course.

      *thinks* Umm, I think Shuurei is just twelve, so Ryuuki is about fifteen and Seien would be twenty two.

      My pleasure! *wry* In another week or so I’ll have to slow down. I’m catching up with canon-start, and that makes things harder to integrate. I hope to at least get through Shuurei’s appointment as an official before I have to wait for more canon, though. And, hey, maybe I’ll be able to go back and catch all the little fill-in-the-blank bunnies, then.

      1. grey-damaskena

        OMG SO YES. You have no idea how many times I was wishing she’d hit Mr. Grossg– um, Sakujun– where it hurt. She hits Ryuuki for a great deal less, why is it that she never hits Sakujun?

        grrrrrrrr . . . .

        Um, sorry. Getting carried away. ::sheepish::

        I hope you don’t slow down too much, in any case, because I want to read more. And filling-in-the-blanks is always good, there are loads of things I’d adore seeing from this AU. I shall wait, as patiently as I’m able.

        1. branchandroot Post author

          You and me both! I suppose it makes a small amount of sense that she was in shock from his strong come-ons. Saku is a whole lot less ingenuous than Ryuuki. And I /know/ there are all sorts of cultural issues at work. But… argh!

          1. grey-damaskena

            ::sighs:: It’s true, of course. Ryuuki tends to behave more childishly . . . more than that, I think, Shuurei feels safe around him, she doesn’t have to worry about what he’s going to do. Ryuuki will allow himself to be hit and yelled at and won’t do a thing about it. Whereas with Sakujun there’s no way Shuurei would feel comfortable doing that, even when he so richly deserves it. He wouldn’t accept being hit or yelled at, and Shuurei is definately not comfortable around him.

            And as Shuurei herself notes, Sakujun pushes. Ryuuki’s always willing to give her a way out or back off when she’s really uncomfortable, but Sakujun seems to delight in embarassing her and making her uncomfortable.

            Shuurei says that the two are quite similar: I would agree, but rather say that they’re opposite sides of the same thing.

            . . . I’m rambling again, forgive me. ::sheepish:: As much as I dislike Sakujun and bristle like a cat every time he makes one of his smug appearances, I still find him very interesting. The thought of what it would be like if he and Ryuuki met is something I often think about (well, it kinda happens in the sidestory, but not exactly) . . .

  3. hidden-gems

    Oh the Ryuuki Love!! I know that’s not what this part was about, but still, Ryuuki!! ♥

    You make me so very happy every time you post a new part ^___^

  4. masqueer11

    Ooooohhhhh, I couldn’t resist a peek at LJ and I found this pleasing fic updated again. I applaud you! You know how to make my day.

    Seiran doesn’t have to worry about future heirs running the country. All he has to do is wait for Ryuuki and Shuurei to grow up, marry them over, and let them take care of the empire while he settles into early retirement. Better yet if his kawaaii siblings have children. Uncle Seiran only needs to gloat in happiness.

    I absolutely adore how you portray Shuurei. So far, it’s the most accurate in fics. Keep up the good work.

  5. sparrow-wings

    *happy sigh* I love Shuurei, she’s so active. The last two lines are just perfect. (And, like everyone else, I like the consideration she shows for the books.)

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Glad to hear you liked it! That’s definitely one of the things I like best about Shuurei; she’ll never just sit around moaning, she’ll go /do/ something about whatever’s wrong.