Of Loyalty and Love
Lohengrin rode into the stable with a clatter of sounds and brought his horse to a staggering halt. "Whoa there, Lamiere. Steady. Steady." 
She was a beautiful brown mare, and a little tempestuous. The horse knocked her hoof against the cobblestone a few times to express her displeasure at being arrested. Lohengrin smirked. "I know, I know. I don't like being cooped up here all day with nothing to do either." 
As he slid off his saddle, a stable boy came running up to him. He looked as though he'd been sleeping. The sound of Lohengrin's arrival must have been what woke him. The knight handed off the reigns. "Walk her around the courtyard a few more times before you settle her in for the night." He patted the mare on her flank, and smiled up at her.
The stable boy nodded at him groggily before taking the horse by the bridle and leading her away.
Lohengrin surveyed the inner court as he peeled off his gloves. Over in the shade, underneath some trees, sat a few ladies, laughing delicately. There, on a level patch of grass, were two noble boys sparring with sticks. They could not be more than five or six. In a year they would be handed over to instructors and be taught how to fight with practice swords, just as he had been.
Instinctively his hand came to rest on the hilt of his own sword. Though it had been more than four months since he had been knighted, the novelty of having the weapon at his side had not yet worn off.
A few gasps and some giggles pulled him from his thoughts. The ladies under the tree had fixed their attention on a new arrival. Lohengrin trailed his eyes across the yard to see that Prince Siegfried had stepped out of the castle. He was waving politely in acknowledgment to the ladies.
"Tish," Lohengrin looked away. The Prince irritated him more than he could say. Those well practiced manners. That fawning attitude. He was less royal than servile. And the way that everyone was simply taken in by it. No one was that pure. No one was that good.
A commotion erupted behind him. Lohengrin turned with mild interest to see his mare galloping toward him from the stables. Lohengrin stumbled, and tripped onto his back. He could not move. He did not know what was wrong with him. He was paralyzed in fear, unable to act. In the next instant the dark shadow of his horse was looming over him, her hoofs poised.
Throwing up an arm, and closing his eyes, Lohengrin's last thoughts were, Stupid stable boy. He didn't walk her around. Just packed her up and went right back to sleep.
Weight crashed down upon him.
However, it was not the weight of crushing hooves, but that of a soft body. Lohengrin looked up to find himself looking into pair of honey colored eyes. In the next moment, however, he wasn't looking at much of anything. Someone had thrown himself upon Lohengrin and gripped into his arms. By the force of the leap he had pulled Lohengrin into a tumble, and rolled the two of them out from under Lamiere just as her hooves came crashing down upon where their heads had been moments before.
Dust rose in two great clouds. Lohengrin's vision was obscured. There was shouting. Guards had been called. Finally, when the dust cleared, he found that he was lying on the ground, with Prince Siegfried lying beside him, still gripping onto him with all his strength.
Siegfried pulled them upright where they sat. His flax blond hair was soiled. His face was smeared. His suit was dirtied. And he gripped into Lohengrin's upper arms, shaking him. "Are you alright?!"
Lohengrin's mouth hung agape. He coughed. Dirt had gotten into it.
The alarm in the Prince's eyes did not abate until Lohengrin was finally able to croak out a, "Fine. I'm fine."
Relief of the sort Lohengrin had never seen pooled across the Prince's face. "Thank goodness."
He let go of Lohengrin's arms and slowly, painfully, propped himself up on his elbows to survey the court. Lohengrin followed suit.
Some of the castle guards managed to catch Lamiere. The captain of the guards was in the middle of yelling at the stable boy, and the ladies' fans were moving at the same speed as Lohengrin's heart.
"Wh…Why did you just risk your life for me?" he said, after he had managed to swallow down most of the dust he had inhaled.
The Prince slowly turned to look at him with, Lohengrin had an uncomfortable feeling, the same expression he had given the prince just a few months ago at the pond in the courtyard.
"Because you were in danger," he said, explaining it to Lohengrin as though the latter were stupid. "Because you're my knight." With that, the Prince began to clamber to his feet. Lohengrin just stared at him, transfixed. The Prince brushed himself down as best he could, and then turned to offer the knight a hand. It was then that Lohengrin realized that, through the entire experience, he had been clutching onto his gloves.
Out of sheer shock and bewilderment Lohengrin took the extended hand. The Prince helped Lohengrin to his feet. After a few moments of gaping like a fish, the knight finally found some semblance of speech within him. "I believe that I was inexcusably rude to you upon our last encounter. Allow me to make a full apology, my Prince." He made to take a bow, but was arrested by a hand on his shoulder.
He looked into the Prince's eyes.
"Siegfried," he said with a small smile. "My name is Siegfried."
Over the following weeks Lohengrin found himself approaching the Prince when the latter made appearances in the outer court. The Prince seemed glad of his company, as he was glad of the company of any of his people. As he observed, Lohengrin saw that, no matter how trifling the request, no matter how inane, the Prince aimed to help any of his citizens in need, as though they were each his personal friend. Lohengrin found himself lingering in the halls through which the prince walked. It was almost comical. Before, he had always vacated any place at the first glimpses of that blond hair. As the days rolled on Lohengrin found that, despite himself, he rather liked the Prince's company and, to his great surprise, the Prince seemed to like his.
Soon the knight found that the Prince would approach him almost as often as he the Prince. There was something easy in the conversations between them. It was easy perhaps because Lohengrin did not look to the Prince for the affection which he could not help but lavish on all his citizens. The knight sought him out rather because he wanted to understand. He wanted to understand this strange and kind youth into whose court he had been thrown. Lohengrin felt that he owed at least so much to the man who had saved his life. The affection which he began to feel for his companion was entirely subsequent.
And Siegfried... well, he in turn seemed to sense the nature of Lohengrin's initial disinterested interest in him, and loved him all the better for it.
Ere the month was even near completion, Lohengrin pledged his life to Prince Siegfried. Not merely a life of service. That he had already sworn. No, he pledged a life of love and devotion. He had been a young man without a cause to fight for, or a belief to cherish for his entire life. He still did not believe in false courtesy, flattery, or deceptive civility.
But he did believe in Siegfried.
Not long after entering into his personal service, Lohengrin learned that if it was to protect the people, the Prince never feared being injured in the line of duty. He was fearless, and loyal, and compassionate. He was, in fact, everything that he had appeared to be upon their first encounter, and everything that had alarmed Lohengrin so much. He was the kindest and most honorable man Lohengrin had ever met. 
Of course, Lohengrin soon also learned that being assigned to the Prince's personal guard did not mean protecting the Prince from any of his people. They all worshiped him with an almost alarming reverence. No. Protecting the Prince meant protecting him from himself.
It meant running after him when he took off after a small dog being washed away by the river. It meant yelling, cursing and pleading with him to come down from the high wall onto which he had somehow climbed to save a cat which was too frightened to make the climb down herself. It meant tearing into the courtyard pond after him, scattering a flock of indigent swans, when the Prince tried to save a waterfowl from drowning, nearly downing himself. It meant keeping one eye upon him at all times because, unlike any assassin or assailant, who would have to take a rest at some time or other, the Prince's nature was always vigilant.
It had been two months since he had entered the Prince's service, and half a year since the two of them had been granted their swords. And if Lohengrin had been displeased with being cooped up within the castle with nothing to do, he was now eating his words.
It was after such an exhausting day that Lohengrin came to be stretched out in the window seat of the Prince's private chambers. Siegfried was sitting behind his desk, filling out paperwork. Beside him, on the table, stood a candle with the hours marked upon it, slowly burning to indicate the passage of time. In the calm of the afternoon, Lohengrin allowed himself to relax, and for his eyes to slide shut.
"So," Siegfried's voice brought him back to the here and now with a jolt. The Prince did not look up from the document he was poring over. "You've never actually told me…" he put his name to a piece of paper, took a blotter, and mopped up the excess ink, "…why everyone tells you that you're just an 'unpleasant fellow.'" He put one document aside, and moved on to the next.
Lohengrin blearily blinked at him for a moment. "Oh." He shifted his position a little. "Well, if it makes a difference, I'm not called that anymore," he answered evasively. Now people called him the brave knight who guarded the prince. It was a change. 
Siegfried, however, was not deterred. He paused in his writing, his feather quill hovering dangerously over the paper. He fixed his eyes on the young man who had become his closest knight.
Lohengrin knew that look. It was that earnest, irritating look, which would not be denied. For someone who was so good and pure of heart, Siegfried certainly had a way of getting people to do as he liked. Lohengrin sighed. "I did mention that I have an older brother, yes?"
"Yes." Carefully, Siegfried placed the quill back into its inkwell. He leaned back in his leather and wooden chair, and gave Lohengrin his full attention. Lohengrin did not know if he would ever get used to being listened to so carefully.
"Well, it was only half truth, actually," he said. "I do have an older brother… an older twin brother." He smirked bitterly just at the thought. "A few minutes, that's all. A few minutes that separate me from my birthright. Second sons are expendable."
"What is he like?" Siegfried asked quietly.
Lohengrin raised an eyebrow. "Like? Kardeiz? Hah. Though we're twins, we could not have been born less similar… though that might well have been due to the difference in our upbringing. He was bred from birth to take over my father's estate. He's… more well groomed than I am." There was a moment of silence. "You might have liked him better than me, actually." Lohengrin looked again at Siegfried. "But then, you like everybody." 
The Prince shrugged sheepishly. "I try to see the good in everybody."
"No, it's more than that," Lohengrin shifted in his seat, trying to get comfortable once more. "You make everyone feel loved. I've seen it. Whomever you speak to, you make them feel like the most important person in the kingdom for the duration of time that you are in their presence. It is a gift."
"Well," Siegfried said quietly into the silence that followed. "I certainly wouldn't have liked him better than you."
"Tish." The knight smiled wryly at the prince.
Siegfried looked down upon his unfinished documents and sighed heavily. There was still so much to be done. He then chanced a glance to the candle. The wax had burned down to the Roman numeral VI. His father would be waiting for him for their daily lessons.
"I should go," he said. The chair scrapped loudly as he got up from behind the desk.
As always, a look of curiosity flittered across Lohengrin's face. As always, he suppressed it with his usual stoic nature. "Do you want me to come with you or…?"
"No," Siegfried smiled reassuringly. It was odd. He had never had a close friend before. So, he had never had to hide his activities. He knew that he was not lying to Lohengrin about why it was he vanished every day for an hour or so. He was not lying, because Lohengrin was too good a friend to ask. Still, somehow… it felt dishonest. "I'll be back in a bit," he heard himself saying.
Lohengrin stretched. "Alright then. How do you feel about going out to a tavern when you get back?"
"Oh, no. I couldn't. I still have all this paperwork to–"
"Good. I'm glad you see it my way," Lohengrin let out a yawn. He had just found the perfect position. Without the Prince there for an hour, he might actually get some real sleep. "Let's go to the Swaying Swan. They always have good ale there."
Dusk had fallen. Siegfried and Lohengrin strode through the cobbled streets, garbed in dark cloaks to hide their fine clothes. Again, this was not because of any thieves or robbers. This was because Lohengrin refused to spend the night batting off adoring citizens from their beloved prince.
"We could have taken the–"
"But it would have been much faster than–"
"No." There was no way, in this world or the next, that Lohengrin would ever be caught in the prince's carriage. Made from mother of pearl, and flown by two majestic white swans, the very sight of the thing made his eyes hurt. And there was certainly no way that he would have ridden to a tavern in it. 
Within ten minutes, as dusk was turning into night, Siegfried and Lohengrin came into the light pooling out of the loud but small tavern house before them. Over the door was tacked on a wood carving of a swan teetering drunkenly on one of its webbed feet.
Lohengrin adjusted his hood and walked in. After all, everyone knew that he was the Prince's right-hand man. If they recognized him, they would recognize the Prince.
The warm light of too many candles on too many surfaces engulfed them. Men were sitting at tables and on the floor, laughing, exchanging gossip, or playing cards. The bartender was deep in conversation with two of the tavern wenches, who were clearly having a playful laugh at the old man's expense. The bar, meanwhile, remained completely unattended. And why not. There had not been a theft or a bar fight in many, many years.
Once Lohengrin had his mug in his hand, he was the most content man in the kingdom. He was well rested, he had his ale, and he was sharing company with the man who had become his closest companion. He and Siegfried toasted glasses, and began to drink. He closed his eyes as the cool ale went down his throat.
Life could not be better than this.
The night went on in much the same fashion. They drank, talked, and relished in each other's company. It was impossible to say exactly why the two got on as well as they did. Perhaps it was because, unlike every other person in the kingdom, Lohengrin did not take Siegfried's every word with unadulterated reverence. Or, perhaps, it was because Siegfried, by the very nature of his character, was the only young man alive who could stomach Lohengrin's tempers.
Perhaps it was a little of both.
"Yes, I dare say," a voice rose above the hum of conversation, "of all the tales that I know, there is none that touches my heart more than that of Princess Tutu." It would be dawn soon. The tavern had quieted down. Most of the merry makers had gone home. It was because of this that the exchange that the man was having with the bartender wafted all the way to the other end of the bar where the prince and the knight sat.
Lohengrin groaned. He was inebriated now and he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Oh please, let us not hear this one again."
"If you know this story, sir, and it does not move you, you have no sense of compassion," rebuked the man whose conversation had been interrupted.
"I cannot remember if I know it, or do not know it. All I know is that all such stories begin and end the same." Lohengrin waved his hand about. "There was a princess. She was beautiful." With every sentence he flopped his hand a different direction. "She loved a Prince. They tried to be together. There was an evil warlock. Etcetera, etcetera. Eventually the Princess finds a way to be with her Prince. The end."His hand dropped to the counter with a thump. "It's an old tale."
"Ah, but that is where you are wrong, my sour sir. For Princess Tutu, though blessed with beauty, cleverness and strength, is a princess fatednever to be with her prince." The man took a deep swig of his ale, and rasped out, "For when she confesses her love, she turns into a speck of light and vanishes. Such was the curse laid upon her at birth." 
There was silence in the tavern. Even in a world of crime and violence such a fate would have seemed unendurable. But in the quiet of their orderly world… it seemed unimaginable.
After a moment Siegfried swallowed, thinking hard. "Wait… I do remember… I am sure that I once did hear a story of her."
Lohengrin groaned quietly. There would be no stopping this now.
"Yes. It was my father's old Mage who told it to me, sometime before he passed." Even as he spoke, trying to think through the ale that he had had, Siegfried remembered the occasion. He had been no more than a boy of five at the time, he was sure of it. The old Mage had told him many stories, some of times gone by, some of immortal magic, and some of events yet to come. One such story had been that of Princess Tutu, who danced to free men's souls of their despair.
He remembered lying on the ground in front of the Mage's chair, propped up on his elbows and listening eagerly, even as the old man's words seemed to conjure the princess in the very air.
"Where is she?"
The Prince asked this of the old man. The Mage, in turn, raised a great white eyebrow at the little boy, and stroked his beard thoughtfully.
"Nobody knows that."
"But she appears to people, and dances with them, and rescues them, through their hearts, of the great darkness that might otherwise seize upon them?" The Mage nodded solemnly.
"I wish she would become my princess," the prince said wistfully. "Side by side we could do so much good, and rescue the people of their sadness together, so that none need ever suffer."
The Prince said this and thought on her image again. Truly, he had never seen anyone suffer. Princess Tutu had, however. And she saved them from it.
"Dear Prince, your wish voices nothing."
The old man simply smiled as he spoke.
Waifine's Note: After this chapter, and before the next, there is placed in The Prince and the Raven an illustration of the Mage telling a young Prince Siegfried the legend of Princess Tutu. This image can be found on my Profile Page as P&R no1. It is from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.3
 Lohengrin's mare is named after Lamiere, Pasifal's aunt, and thus Lohengrin's great aunt. This is drawn from the book Arthurian Name Dictionary by Christopher W. Bruce.
 The coloring of the horse is based on an illustration from The Prince and the Raven in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.9. Image on my Profile Page as P&R no2.
 "If it was to protect the people, the Prince never feared being injured in the line of duty," is a direct quote from The Prince and the Raven in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.10
 That Lohengrin was a brave knight who guarded the prince is drawn from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.10
 Lohengrin's twin brother, Kardeiz, is drawn from the tale Knight of the Swan.
 The carriage referred to is from Princess Tutu (anime) Ep.26. That it is made from mother of pearl is from This Pendent Heart, Ch9. p.70
 This phrase is similar to the one uttered in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.3
 Fragments of the exchange between the young Prince and the Mage are shown, in the original German, within the pages of The Prince and the Raven, in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.3. The translation into English is by Aorphiusrex, from the Princess Tutu Community on Live Journal.