Disclaimer: I do not own Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic
Note: Hakuei is 7 years younger than Gyokumei so she is about 3-4 years old in the first portion.
Blessed Child of Mine
"Our biggest brother, is a noble hero like the emperor. He even has a big blue cape, that flies in the wind!"
Hakuei's eyes followed her older sister's outstretched hand, fingers illuminated by the soft glow of moonlight, as they lay in bed.
Blinking, the little girl turned her head as she faced her sister and asked, "Just like Mister Ithnan?"
She leaned into the warm embrace as she felt soft strands of inky black hair brush against her. The first imperial princess says softly into her ear, "Just a little, but don't tell him I said that. Promise, okay?"
The four year tried to whisper as well, but soon her voice and giggles could be heard echoing in the room, "Mhm, okay!"
"What about, big brother Hakuren?" The small blue-haired girl asks.
Hakuei rests her head onto her sister's chest, looking out of the window to stare at the mountains the Kou empire's soldiers were currently being stationed. Fingers combed through her hair as she closed her eyes and listened to the gentle voice of her sister.
"He's like the wind. He catches good people like Hakuyuu and father, when they fall, and set them on their feet. He protects them and makes sure they're safe."
The sleepy girl wondered how her big brother would catch her, if she fell. Would he sweep her up in his arms like her sister? Or would he be like mother, grabbing her by the hand and pulling her? Hakuei had many questions for her sister, and every night she would ask away, not always satisfied with the answers she was provided.
"What about the baddies?"
The fingers paused, and the little princess felt the bed shift from underneath her.
"With the people he thinks are bad, he's a tornado."
Hakuei blinks hard as she tries to find her sister's figure in the dark.
"He tears them apart."
She feels a soft hand brush her cheek.
"It's time for bed, little one."
The youngest Ren nods slowly, her face engulfed by silk sheets as she looks out the window. She finally lets sleep take her as she heard the door slide shut.
"Do you like it?"
Hakuei stares as the empress uncovers an object on the table. Tufts of white feathers are spread out like a peacock, as Gyokuen holds the item by it's golden handle. There's a glistening ruby at the end, the second imperial princess's favorite jewel. Her eyes stare wide with awe, as her mother slowly moves the fan back and forth. A soft breeze glides across her face, and the blue-eyed girl clasps her hand shyly in front of her as she curls her toes in anticipation.
"Yes, mother." Her voice is gentle and demure, as she tries to copy the many times she's seen her mother and sister talk.
"It's for you my, dear." The empress of Kou's voice is sweet, doe eyes glistening and a smile adorned her face as she offers the fan with one hand.
Hakuei gingerly picks up the object with two hands, arms slightly trembling at the weight of the heavy fan. She bowed low, hugging her new possession close to her chest. The empress smiled as the princess attempted to gracefully thank her for the gift.
The voice is cold, and shakes the sole blue haired female in the room out of her reverence. She watches as her mother's smile blossoms in delight, eyes crinkling and voice resonating with enthusiasm.
"Gyokumei! Dear, you surprised me." Her mother pressed her callous-free palm against her chest, in shock at the first imperial princess' sudden appearance.
The young girl clutches her fan and attempts to hide it with her sleeve, as she spots her sister's stare on the golden object. It has happened more than once, when Gyokumei offhandedly makes a remark about a beautiful treasure, and received it the next day. It is not a surprise when the sparkling jewels and gleaming jewelry fall into the hands of the first imperial princess, either from potential suitors or from the empress herself. Hakuei is aware of the love her sister has for her, but she is even more aware of the place she has in her mother's heart.
She is able to exhale in relief and the tension ebbs away from her small frame, as Gyokumei pays the fan no mind. Instead the black haired teenager pins their mother a cool look, gaze unwavering as she tells her younger sister, "Hakuei, come. It's time for your dance lessons."
The little princess nods, she turns towards her mother and says her goodbyes.
The delight is still playing on her mother's face who bids her daughter farewell. Hakuei blinks automatically as she is engulfed in a hug, something her mother does not do often.
A light voice is whispered into her ear, "Have fun, my dear."
Instantaneously she is ripped away from her mother's warmth, her sister's fingers are digging into her arm as she is lead out of the room and into the hall.
Hakuei decides not to say anything about her sister's sudden outbursts, one of many, as she sees stares in disbelief at her sister's face. Gyokumei's eyes shift quickly around the hall, the calm and demure look her sister usually holds is replaced with a look of fear as she looks back towards their mother's chambers.
Hakuei does not dwell on how her selfish thoughts comes true, as she enters the room.
The yelling ceases as two faces, practically identical stare back at her. The youngest Ren in the room bows low as she greets the emperor and her siblings. Instantly Hakuren is in front of her, gliding his fingers through her hair immediately, her brother's rage slowly dissipates as the lines between his brows disappear. Her feet leave the ground, as she rises in the air, the young girl clutches at the silk of his collar as she meets dark orbs staring back fondly. These are the rare moments the twins stop fighting, the moments both can smile and be within range of each other without going at the other's throats.
Hakuei leans forward slightly, as her sister steps forward. The blue haired girl's lips turn upwards as the ice in the imperial princess's voice leaves her as she asks gently, "Hello little one, are your lessons done for today?"
"Yes, sister. Brother Hakuren said we could play after I finish." She squeals as her brother spins on his heel, she is flying again in the air in a curtain of pink silk before he stops and holds her close.
She snuggles into the folds of his robes, face flushed with adrenaline, and feels the slight rumble of her brother's booming voice. "I can not keep the little princess waiting, father may I leave?"
"Very well, you are dismissed."
She peers past her smiling sister and spots her father looking at her. His gaze, that remains tranquil whether the twins are fighting or not, does not change, but she can easily spot a small smile filled with relief and appreciation, make it's way onto his face before it disappears.
These are the moments when she is needed.
She feels rough hands ruffle her hair as he murmurs.
"It's your turn to protect now, Hakuei."
Hakuei is on her toes as her hand is grasped tightly in Hakuren's rough hands. The soft cries cease as she spots pink limbs wave wildly in the air. She is no longer the youngest Ren, as the bundle is placed on her lap. She stares into unfocused, deep blue eyes and her heart flutters as the orbs find her face. She tentatively pokes the soft flesh and giggles in surprise as the baby's arm begins to flail again. She knows at that moment, she will engrave her place in her new brother's heart as his guardian.
He will be her purpose.
Hakuren is her favorite family member. He is like the sun after it rains, like a cooling wind on a summer day.
He is the one who never denies her a request, he is the one who brings her many gifts after his return, and he is the one who ruffles her hair softly.
The child giggles as she feels her robes shift, fluttering in the wind as Hakuren sets her on his shoulders and runs across the garden. Then there's a loud boisterous voice, that rivals the second prince's booming presence, that calls out to them.
"If it isn't the little princess!"
She has to grip dark blue strands tightly as she steadies herself, her brother's hand flies up and rests against her back. In a swift motion Hakuei is sailing in the air, and steady hands lower her down as her toes touch the ground.
The siblings stop and stare at the trio of young men, lounging at the garden's patio. A tall teenager is grinning from ear to ear, dressed in a mix of silver and plum robes. He swipes his long light blue mane back, as he crouches low to meet Hakuei's eyes. The young princess, looks down, face warm as the teen waves at her.
Hakuei's hands immediately find their way clasped in front of her as she dips into a low bow and the presence of the nobles and her brother. She peers up through her eyelashes to see the first imperial prince with stern eyes smiling gently, reminding the young girl of her father who she has seen on occasion. The youngest Ren has to remind herself, that the elegance her siblings display is from years of practice, and she will soon be able to look as pristine and regal as she learns to navigate the royal court.
"Seishuu." There is no reprimand said, but Hakuei watches quietly as her oldest cousin crosses his arms. Kouen stands tall, hovering over a sitting Hakuyuu who sips on his tea. Hakuei who is always listening to the gossip in the palace, because she is young and no one bats an eye when the young princess wanders, as she compares the two. She can tell the relationship between Hakuyuu and Kouen is unlike that of her father and uncle. Kouen with his flaming red hair, stands towards the closest entrance, shielding the heir to the throne with his body. There is devotion and warmth in his eyes, often absent in his father's who holds an indifferent gaze towards his sibling.
Hakuren's booming laugh echoes across the garden, "How are you going to survive the palace like that?"
"If someone like you can, I'm sure I'll manage fairly well," the Ri heir retorts playfully. Kouen jabs the taller teen in the ribs, who only chuckles in response.
The second imperial prince blinks, before he laughs harder than before. "I like you Seishuu, this place is a drab with all these spoilsports. I mean look at Kouen and Hakuyuu, they always look like they ate something bad!"
The two teens sling their arms around each other's shoulders and Hakuei feels the warmth her brother provided in the crisp spring leave her.
But it is times like this that Hakuei stands idle. She is included, yet she is not.
Yet again, she knows her place.
But it is soon over as she spots a tuft of dark blue hair wandering around the gardens, toddling into view.
She smiles as she says her farewells and quickly catches up with her babbling brother who calls for her.
The young princess is now ten years old and the only princess living in the palace. Today is the emperor's birthday banquet and her eyes flicker towards the front of the room where her father and mother sit. Hakuei sits in the grand hall among her siblings, and family. She stares at her mother who tilts the goblet softly against her lips, and attempts to mimic her.
The cup vanishes from her hold, her blue eyes blink at her hand before she looks into a disapproving stare. The first imperial princess' gaze does not falter as the cup is taken from her hand, and the contents find it's way down her husband's throat.
Hakuei attempts to blink innocently with big eyes, as she waits for her reprimand.
"Hakuei, it is unbecoming of a young woman to drink wine."
Brown orbs are unrelenting, as Gyokumei's lips are set in a fine line, unphased by the puppy-dog look her younger sister sends her.
"I am practicing for the day I get married too sister, just a sip please."
There is a loud chuckle that reminds Hakuei of the first time she met the Ri heir, he winks at her as he leans in from his seat, "Maybe, little princess, you will find a wonderful husband like me. Who will drink all your sorrows away."
Her sister's face is a pretty pink as she lightly scolds, "Seishuu!"
He continues to laugh, his hands make its way around Gyokumei's waist. "My brother is quite the charming fellow, would you like to give him a try?"
They are interrupted by a baritone voice, "I do hope, you are not propositioning your brother to my sister. One Ri in this household is enough."
Hakuyuu who sits across from them, sets his goblet down gently as he quirks his eyebrow in question.
Seishuu pretends to wipe a tear from his eye, as he places his head on Gyokumei's shoulder. He mutters, voice filled with distress, "I am wounded, truly I am."
A delicate hand brushes his long mane, and pokes his forehead. The demure voice of the black haired teen is filled with mirth as she says, "That's quite enough, my love."
The moment is interrupted as the youngest Ren squeals out, "Yucky!"
Hakuren's laughter echoes around the room as he looks at Hakuryuu making a pinched face, "You said it, you may be the smarted Ren yet!"
This is the last moment Hakuei can remember before tragedy begins to follow in the Ren's family wake.
Hakuei's eyebrows raise as she hears her sister's icy voice. Her sister refused to meet her eyes as the blue-haired princess attempts to say again, "Sister, you must eat! You haven't eaten for days, at least drink something!"
She watches as the bandages unravel slightly, revealing angry pink skin. The burn travels across her sister's arm, and underneath her robes down her chest and belly. The only area that had stayed safe from the fire was her face. But the fire raged on, angry in her sister's heart.
"I said get out."
"I will not leave!" She is needed, and she must protect her sister from herself. Gyokumei who has not eaten in days, Gyokumei who woke up from her injuries screaming and raging, Gyokumei with tears streaming across her face and her eyes rimmed red as she stares at their eldest brother's comatose state, Gyokumei who turns withdrawn and cold as her eyes no longer held tears after her husband's funeral.
The voice is chilling, and the girl feels shivers run down her body. Her sister is staring at her with a frosty gaze, Hakuei wonders if they are the same orbs that used to calm her down as a child. She can't help but step back, as the look turns sharper and Hakuei starts to breath deeper, faster. Fear begins to root in her heart.
"Hakuei dear," She feels a soft hand rest on her shoulder, and turns to see her mother. She is breathing harder, gasping slightly as she attempts to will her fingers to remain still. The teenager does not understand how her mother can remain calm, how a serene smile makes a way to her lips as she pats the young woman's cheek. "I will take over now, how about you take Hakuryuu into the gardens?"
Hakuei looks down, hot with shame at the quick dismissal from her mother. She grasps at her little brother's hands, engulfing his hand in her own. She leaves, and that is the last time she sees her sister with such strong emotion on her face.
"Long live emperor, Koutoku."
The occupants in the grand hall stare as the first imperial princess got on her knees, the sound her hands make as they hit the marble floor is deafening.
She is joined by a small boy who is the new high priest of Kou, his long braid making an intricate pattern on the ground, as he kotows and in a childish voice proclaims, "Long live the emperor, Koutoku!"
Hakuei does not want to look, does not need to look, to know of the anger rolling off her older brother in waves. His hands are shaking, and his face is as scarlet as the new emperor's hair. He spins on his heels, feet stomping the ground as he leaves with a trail of Koutoku's sons.
Their father emperor Hakutoku is dead, and now his scarlet haired brother reigns over Kou.
"Judar I want to talk to sister!"
The boy doesn't bother to move, feet dangling in the air as he looks down at her. She spots his ruby red eyes among the leaves, as his voice carries across the tree, "No, go away."
With fists clenched, she realizes she is slowly beginning to adopt the unrefined steel of her eldest brother's voice, "Judar."
He glances at her this time, braid swinging slightly as he raises his arms and makes a shooing motion. The young princess can feel her chest constrict, abhors the words she can see beginning to form on his lips, "She doesn't need you anymore."
Hakuei feels a pang in her heart as she thinks of the numerous times the first imperial princess speaks only to the young boy. Her voice is sweet and gentle, like the days when Hakuei was an infant. Enviously she thinks of the times she spots her sister from afar run her fingers along the boy's long hair, braiding and talking. Now the first imperial princess refuses to leave the quarters that she has returned to, and no one except the empress, Kouen, and Judar have been allowed to see her.
Hakuei knows that it is not that she is unneeded by her sister, instead she lets the shame fill in once again as she steps away from the lacksadasical boy.
She is unwanted.
At the ripe age of sixteen, she should have been more focused on her marriage prospects as her sister had. But Hakuei realizes there are more pressing matters, such as becoming the wind for Hakuren.
Hakuren who is no longer cheerful and mischievous. Hakuren who is now rough and calculating. The blue haired princess is no longer able to reach the heart of her sister, but perhaps she can still save her brother. She can still cushion his falls and set him back on his feet, something he has done for many but unfortunately not for himself.
Hakuei can only look on as her brother commands the Western Subjugation Army, to conqueror the Tenzan plateau. His charisma is stronger than ever as he prepares his soldiers with detailed tactics, and words of wisdom. She spots the soldiers stand straight, eyes focused, and taking deep breathes as her brother makes a motion towards his new weapon.
It is when her brother brandishes a familiar sword, belonging to their eldest brother, sporting the dungeon conqueror symbol at the base of his blade that she realizes what she must do.
She roars along with the other subjects in the room who follow her brother, uncaring at how unladylike she may sound.
Hakuei decides then, she will become stronger and she will fight.
Hakuei can only stare up at the dark sky, speckles of light illuminating the vast horizon as she lay on the cold grass. Her hair is spilling from underneath her in a mess of tangles and dirt.
Her fingers are still slick with dark red, starting to crust under her nails as she struggles to inhale. She is trying, hoping, and praying that this mysterious power she had taken such great lengths to obtain will do something- anything.
She almost doesn't hear it, the soft whisper spoken through mesh, "I'm sorry, little princess."
The voice continues, louder this time, "Dunya, it's time to go."
"Of course Miss Falan, come Isaac." Hakuei hears the sound of robes moving, can only see a purple blur disappearing from her peripherals.
The soft feathers of her fan, are thoroughly drenched in red. She is grasping, still trying to think- to project her will to fight. But nothing happens as she grazes the insignia of a dijin carved in gold.
It was ironic, as she lay on the cold grass, she was at the place she wanted to be all those years ago when her brothers and father were on the battlefield.
But now the people she had to protect, wanted to be with, were no longer in the mountains.
How was she supposed to protect Hakuryuu, if she wasn't with him? How was she suppossed to shield him from the ill intentions hidden behind smiles, in the royal court if she was not there? How was she to ensure he would grow up to be stronger than her brothers, when she could no longer teach him?
Was she going to die here?
The only person who she could count on, her hero among heroes was nowhere to be seen.
Where was he? Where was Hakuren? Where did he disappear to?
Hakuei stared at the stars once more before she closed her eyes. She finally let peace take her, as she thought about how nice it would be to rejoin her father and eldest brother in heaven.
AN: I said I'd give a time-line this chapter but I have decided instead that I'll be combing the whole story in sequential order after I finish (which I'm DETERMINED to do this year, knock on wood). Especially since this will be 9 chapters max plus an epilogue.
I have also realized that I have made a few mistakes such as the rukh actually being freaking birds instead of butterflies and Gyokuen actually has dark blue hair and eyes (for the sake of this story being AU anyway she will have black hair and eyes as it's been stated in several chapters already).