The Princess and Her Knight
"You know, most people would be flattered to have so many people fighting over her." Yang bluntly said, ignoring Ruby's pout.
"Easy for you to say," Ruby grumbled. "You got to marry the love of your life."
Ruby knew that Yang was in a different situation. After all, she and their father had married into the royal family so she wasn't the heir despite their father having taken over as regent after the death of Ruby's mother. She had a lot more flexibility when it came to her choices.
And if the love of her life was the daughter of Menagerie's chief and their marriage helped secure an alliance between their kingdoms then that was merely a happy happenstance. If their dad had said no, Yang would've just run away with her probably.
But Ruby was the heir to the throne. Within a few years, she would have to step up and take the crown, and her dad wanted her to at least be engaged and familiar with her partner by that time. And according to the laws, which he had tried to change but was shot down by the council, she had to marry either another royal or a noble.
So now a tournament was being held, with nobility and royalty from their and the surrounding kingdoms. The winner would receive Ruby's hand in marriage.
It didn't matter that Ruby's heart was set on another.
"They don't want me. They're all here for honor or glory or status or…other stuff." Ruby gestured at the armored contestants milling about. "Even if they know me, none of them really know me."
"What? Like Weiss?" Yang's voice had softened with sympathy, even as Ruby's heart gave a discordant twang.
Yes, Weiss actually knew her. She was Ruby's best friend.
However, Weiss was just the court minstrel.
Weiss had arrived in their court right about the same time Ruby had begun her training to become queen. She could play pretty much any instrument presented to her and her voice was akin to that of angels. Ruby had been intrigued by her from the start. After all, it wasn't everyday you encountered a girl with hair and skin as white as snow, much less a girl with a scar marring her face. Some would call it ugly, but if anything, Ruby had always thought it made her even more beautiful, showing her will to survive despite getting slashed open right over her left eye.
Yang suspected that Weiss was to some degree of noble birth, given how her manners rivalled those of the haughtiest lord or lady of the court, but Ruby found that to be unlikely. Though those manners and sense of propriety may have been why Weiss had tried to keep a certain distance between herself and Ruby at the beginning, despite Ruby trailing after her like a puppy in her free time.
Weiss could be sarcastic and distant, but as Ruby had watched, she noticed the kind and caring person underneath the chilly veneer. And before they knew it, they'd gotten closer and closer until Ruby could hug her and call her her best friend and only get a roll of the eyes instead of a gentle push away and a lecture on proper etiquette.
Then somehow, without even noticing it, Ruby had fallen in love.
Ruby desperately wished to tell Weiss her feelings, but she wasn't about to risk her most precious friendship. Besides, even if her feelings were returned, they wouldn't be able to marry due to Weiss's commoner status.
It wasn't fair.
And Weiss wasn't even here at the moment!
"Yeah…" Ruby mumbled, slumping in her seat despite her mental Weiss lecturing her on her posture. "Why did she have to leave and attend family business now of all times?"
Shortly before this tournament's announcement, Weiss had received a letter that apparently urged her home for some emergency. Ruby had been upset at the time, though understanding as she of all people knew the importance of family.
Now she was despondent as by the time Weiss got back she'd surely be engaged and unable to ever reveal her feelings.
"It sucks, but that's how it is." Yang shrugged but gave her an understanding smile. "I'm sure things will be fine when she gets back."
"No they won't. I'll be engaged."
Yang sighed. Ruby could understand that she was trying to cheer her up, but it just wasn't happening. "Let's at least check out the competition, shall we?"
"Fine." Ruby sighed and she cast her gaze over at her potential suitors.
Jaune Arc was from a large noble family with a history of turning out fantastic knights. Jaune himself was fairly decent but Ruby would never be able to get over her first impression of him where he vomited right on her shoes as she trained with her family's knights. Overall, he wasn't the worst person she could get married to, but there were plenty of powerful contestants.
Pyrrha Nikos, for example, was a strong contender. She was considered to be one of the strongest fighters on the continent, the Gladiator from Argus. She could probably trounce every single person here, but Ruby already knew that she wouldn't as she was just participating out of obligation and she was sweet on a certain knight who was prone to blowing chunks when nervous.
Penny Polendina was someone that Ruby was fairly familiar with. She was one of the best knights that served the Ironwoods, the royal family of Atlas. She and Ruby trained together during a diplomatic mission in Atlas several years ago and they had kept correspondence since. Ruby was sure that she could count her as a friend. Maybe not necessarily one of her closest ones, but a friend all the same.
Oscar Pine was currently being trained by one of the most powerful mages in the world, Ozpin, but he did some knight training as well. He always seemed nice enough, but Ruby really didn't consider him to be romantic interest material.
Neptune Vasilias and Ilia Amitola were both knights from Menagerie and close friends of Blake's. Ruby knew them more by reputation and Blake's stories than personally interacting with them. Neptune was a bit of a flirt but usually pulled through when it counted while Ilia was more serious and quite stealthy in her work, able to slip in and out of situations easily. Ruby figured they'd be okay partners if it came down to it.
Mercury Black on the other hand was a hard no. He served Lady Cinder Fall, who was herself known for her devious and power-hungry tactics, having married into the nobility and her husband almost immediately dying under mysterious circumstances, and Ruby did not trust him a bit. She didn't like the sly looks he kept throwing her way. He was only allowed because her father had made this an open invitation so they couldn't technically turn him away.
And the eighth participant…
Ruby frowned as she took them in.
The eighth participant wore white armor and unlike everyone else who was getting in their last fresh breaths before the tournament started, they already had their helmet on. They stood next to their horse, feeding her a sugar cube as they inspected their lance. They weren't that big, probably even shorter than Ruby, and had a slight figure. A rapier was at their hip, clearly their weapon of choice.
Ruby had no clue who they were.
She was familiar with most of the royalty and nobility, as one in her position as heir to the throne should be, but she didn't know who the White Knight was.
She glanced at the knight's standard and felt her eyebrows rise.
"Huh." Yang said, clearly also noticing the symbol. "Well, what do you know."
A white snowflake on a blue background.
The Schnee insignia.
Ruby narrowed her eyes.
The Schnees were one of the most powerful noble families in Atlas. However, ever since the Duchess, Willow, had taken ill years ago, her husband, Duke Jacques, a former commoner, had mostly taken over control of her duties. And there was not much good to be said about how he ran things while she continued to be indisposed. He was a merchant at heart and still conducted his business, tying it into the Schnee affairs, and he was as cutthroat as the worst of them. Ruby had frequently heard of him and King James butting heads before coming to begrudging agreements. The family never came to events, isolating themselves with usually only Jacques emerging to conduct business.
The Schnees had three children. Ruby had only heard talk of the eldest and heir Winter, mainly because she had chosen to take a knighthood from the Ironwoods. The Schnees were infamous for their skills in magic, making them highly desirable in courts, so everyone had been jealous of Ironwood snagging one of them despite the family's isolation. Jacques had been insistent on the family relying on only their own power, so now they took on no knights and had no mages, members of the family undergoing rigorous training and tutoring within their castle walls. So Winter had caused quite the scandal with apprenticing herself out, though given that the Schnees served the crown just as much as anyone else, there had not been much that Jacques could do.
Ruby knew that the other children were a girl and a boy, but only rumors were whispered about them. They said that the middle child had been maimed by Jacques and shut up in a tower for daring to disobey him. Or that she'd been left in the woods to die after refusing to marry who her father had picked to secure more power. Or her father had tricked her with a rigged test of skills and she was long dead, though no one knew for sure. They said that he'd tried to make the boy the heir after Winter left and the other daughter was silenced, but the king's council had stopped him. It was hard to tell what was true with how little the family was seen in public. It was all too easy to imagine horrors behind the doors of the coldest noble family in the world.
And yet, here was a member of that mysterious family, vying for her hand in marriage.
"D'you think it's the girl or the boy?" Yang asked as she sat up and squinted at them. Her eyes flickered over to where King James and his entourage had set themselves up, Winter Schnee clearly by his side as she was rumored to always be. "Which would you prefer?"
Ruby scowled. "Neither." She firmly said.
A Schnee was a fascinating prospect, but given the head of the family's reputation, it did not bode well for one of them to be participating.
Yang hummed, tilting her head to the side. "Well, this should be interesting…"
"What should be interesting?"
Ruby glanced over as Blake took her seat at Yang's other side. She too was glancing over the competition, and her gaze eventually settled on the Schnee. Though surprisingly, she didn't look too shocked, which stuck out to Ruby. The Schnee business ventures had a lot of dealings with Menagerie, mostly to Menagerie and the Faunus' detriment, and Blake was well known for her low opinion of Jacques.
"So you noticed the Schnee, too?" Yang pointed out the obvious. "We were just talking about them. What sort of scheme do you think Jacques is up to, trying to win Ruby's hand?"
"Not much probably." At Ruby and Yang's surprised blink, Blake continued. "You haven't heard? New evidence was brought forth of all of the Duke's underhanded dealings and presented to the king. He's been arrested and is still awaiting trial." Blake took a sip from her goblet, ignoring Ruby and Yang's slack-jawed expression.
"Holy cannoli…" Yang muttered. "So is this one of them trying to regain the family's honor or something?"
"Considering it was the second daughter and the Duchess who provided the information, I think they've proved that some people in the family do have honor." Blake dryly replied. "Apparently Jacques had been drugging the Duchess for years to take over her duties?"
"Whoa…" Ruby breathed out, impressed despite herself. The second daughter did sound pretty awesome, but then again, as she glanced back at the White Knight, there was no guarantee that this was her. It could just as easily be the son, and rumors said he took more after his father than either daughter. "Still, that doesn't mean they're not suspicious." She crossed her arms and fixed her pout on her face. "They probably aren't really interested in me, just like more than half of the others participating."
"You'd be surprised." Blake muttered, taking another sip and rolling her eyes at Yang's attempt to steal her drink.
Before Ruby could ask what she meant by that, the trumpets sounded to signal the tournament's start.
It proceeded much as Ruby thought it would once the bracket's were announced.
Pyrrha wasn't able to go all out on Jaune, clearly holding back, but she still easily won. Likewise, Penny won out over Neptune, and poor Oscar hadn't stood a chance against Mercury.
Ruby kept a close eye on the bout between Ilia and the White Knight, but the Knight proved to be the superior of the two. Though Ruby was impressed by the Knight stopping to help Ilia up after it was over, showing a kindness she didn't expect due to the Schnees' reputation.
In the second round, Penny just barely won. She and Pyrrha had to resort to hand-to-hand combat to determine the winner, and in the end, Penny's throwing knives allowed her to stay out of the range of Pyrrha's spear.
On the other side, Ruby was sure that Mercury had tried some tricks, as she saw Mercury approaching the Knight before their bout and whispering in their ear with a sly smile all too similar to his mistress's. Given the way they'd jerked back and she could practically feel them glowering at him through their helmet, it certainly sparked Ruby's curiosity. However, Mercury ended up getting knocked out without too much trouble.
And that left for the final round…
"So who do you want to win? Penny or Mystery Schnee?" Yang asked as she snacked on some treats. Ruby had been so caught up in the fighting that she hadn't even noticed her leaving to get food.
Ruby sunk back into her chair as she looked over at her final two choices.
Penny was her friend and Ruby cared for her dearly. But she was just a friend. Ruby had never thought of her in a romantic or partner-type way. Sure, Ruby could probably marry her for the good of the kingdom, but…
And the White Knight, the Schnee seemed to be pretty alright. As much as one could glean personality from someone who they've only seen fighting and is wearing a helmet besides. At the very least, it'd be fun to spar with them. Which gender they were wasn't really a factor to Ruby, as usually actually knowing someone was what really made someone attractive to her, which is why…
This wasn't what she wanted.
If she had a choice, she'd choose Weiss.
But Weiss wasn't an option.
Yang sighed and ruffled her hair a bit. "Yeah, I know."
"Hey!" Ruby smacked her hand away and scowled at her. She quickly fixed her hair but paused as she felt the prickle of someone's eyes on her. She turned her head to see the White Knight facing her. She blinked a bit in surprise, but they quickly turned away.
Blake chuckled. "It might not be as bad as you think."
Yang glanced at her, eyes narrowed. "Do you know something?"
"I think you do."
"Well, even if I did, I wouldn't say anything."
"Well - "
"Shush!" Ruby finally interrupted their flirting. "It's starting."
Penny and the White Knight were well matched. They kept on coming out even after each run until finally it came down to hand-to-hand. The White Knight drew their rapier and Ruby couldn't help but be slightly impressed by their skill. They clearly were someone who relied on technique and skill and they still managed to do so even with the bulky weight of full armor.
But Ruby knew Penny was one of the strongest fighters she knew. This match was already decided before it began.
It was as much a surprise to her, as it was to the rest of the audience, when the White Knight managed to evade the last of Penny's knives, knock off her helmet, and held the tip of their rapier to Penny's throat.
A clear victory.
Applause thundered around her, but Ruby could only stare in shock.
All her preferences aside, she had thought that Penny would win. And she would've accepted it, despite her misgivings, but now…
Ruby didn't know what to do with this.
Her dad, Taiyang, stood from where he'd been seated on the throne to watch the proceeding and ignore his daughters' chatter about the events. He'd been surprisingly quiet, not even joking around with Uncle Qrow during the tournament like he usually would, and Ruby had forgotten that he was even sitting beside her this whole time.
"Congratulations, champion!" Her dad's voice boomed over the waning applause as the White Knight collected their horse and came to stand before the royal box. "You have bested your peers and proven yourself a knight capable of protecting the royal family. As per the rules of the tournament, you have won the hand of our fair princess Ruby. Do you accept your prize?"
The White Knight was silent for a moment before reaching up to take off their helmet.
"I will gladly take her hand - "
Ruby's breath caught in her throat as the White Knight spoke. That voice -
"But only if she gives it of her own free will."
As the helmet came off, long white hair came tumbling down from the high ponytail on their head, blue eyes shone as they gazed up towards Ruby, and a slight smile tugged at the scar going through their left eye.
"So," Weiss smiled up at Ruby, as smug as the cat who ate the canary, "what do you say, your highness?"
"Weiss?!" Ruby erupted in shock, just as her face exploded in red.
"Holy crow…" Yang muttered, just as surprised as she was.
Blake continued eating, completely indifferent. "Are you going to answer her or not?" She flatly asked.
"Oh, uh," Ruby floundered a bit more as Weiss just chuckled a bit, "yes!" She shouted, before recovering her royal composure. "I mean, yes. Of course, I would love to give you my hand."
She extended her hand to show her sincerity and Weiss took it. Weiss clasped her hand before bringing it before her face and giving it a light kiss.
"Gchk!" Ruby practically choked as she felt her face heat up even more if possible.
Weiss smirked, eyes dancing with mirth over her reaction. "Then I guess we're engaged."
"Yep." Ruby's father grinned as well, before projecting to the audience once more. "It is now official! Her highness, the Crown Princess Ruby Rose, is engaged to the White Knight, Lady Weiss Schnee of Atlas."
The crowd roared around them but Ruby was feeling faint from the whiplash of everything that happened.
How were you supposed to feel when one minute you're about to be locked in a marriage you don't want and the next you're getting everything you want with the person you want?
She felt a slight tug on her hand. Ruby looked down to see the teasing expression gone, replaced by the concerned look on Weiss's face. "Are you alright?" She frowned a bit. "It's fine if you don't want to do this."
Ruby's heart skipped a beat. "I do. Trust me, I do." She smiled at her and squeezed her hand back. "But an explanation would be nice." She admitted.
Weiss nodded. "Of course."
Somehow, Ruby knew this was going to be a doozy.
"Your dad tried to have you killed?!" Yang's jaw dropped and Ruby felt hers dropping right with hers.
They'd gathered in the library as the feast celebrating the end of the tournament and Ruby's engagement began to wind down. It was the place they had always hung out together, but for once their meeting was a bit more urgent than usual.
Weiss hummed, much too at ease with such a horrific fact. "I should've thought there was something suspicious when he said that if I managed to complete the quest I'd be allowed to leave the manor as I wished. As it was, I did complete it and I managed to have my sister secretly arrest my attacker, but I didn't come away unscathed." Like she didn't realize she was doing it, her fingers lightly traced her scar.
"So it was better to have him think me dead. Part of the reason why I wanted to leave was to become a knight like my sister and to restore our family's honor that my father had tarnished. The attack made me realize that simply doing good would not be enough, I had to take out my father as well." Weiss continued. "So I fell back on my other talents. Music has always been a passion of mine, one that my father actually encouraged, so becoming a minstrel was an easy task. No one looked twice at me, allowing me to gather all the evidence I needed. Only King James, my sister, and my family's loyal head butler knew of my task back in Atlas, and of course, I did inform Regent Taiyang when I ended up here."
"And you knew this entire time?" Yang rounded on Blake.
She didn't even blink. "The Faunus and Menagerie have been the victims of most of her father's crimes. Well, most of the ones not done to his own family." Blake glanced over at Weiss before returning to looking at Yang. "I was aware of all members of the Schnee family, so of course I recognized her right away."
"Blake has been invaluable with my investigations." Weiss shot her a smile before catching the disappointed frown on Ruby's face.
"So the important family business?" Ruby prodded.
Her expression softened. "I'd finally gathered all that I needed, but I had originally intended to wait to confront him. I wanted to reveal the truth to you first, but I received news from Klein that my father had been acting more suspicious than usual so I had to go after him much sooner. He was making alliances with factions that sought to overthrow King James and later attack the other kingdoms. Unfortunately, even with my intervention, his conspirators escaped." Weiss scowled. Ruby knew that she was always harder on her own flaws than anyone else, and this untidy wrap-up of the incident was most likely weighing on her.
Ruby took in her sister's thoughtful expression as they both mulled over this new information. Truthfully, it was a lot to take in. Ruby was almost overwhelmed with how much she had learned about Weiss in such a short amount of time.
Weiss was a noble, of the infamous and powerful Schnee family.
Weiss was not only a musician and minstrel, but also a knight.
She could almost be considered a spy, given that she'd somehow been able to go undercover to investigate her own family, her own father.
Weiss was somehow even more talented than she had ever imagined.
Yang clapped her hands together. "Well, that's good enough for me." She smiled as she apparently recovered all the revelations. "Blake, how about we give the lovebirds some alone time?"
"I thought you'd never ask." Blake returned the smile as she took her arm and led the way out.
Weiss sputtered, her composure finally broken. "We're not 'lovebirds!'"
"Keep telling yourself that." Yang waved at them as they left. "You guys just got engaged. The honeymoon period's officially started."
"Yang!" Weiss facepalmed once more before turning back to Ruby. "Ugh, Ruby, your sister - "
Weiss blinked at her. Her eyes searched hers for a moment, looking for something, though Ruby didn't know what. "Yes?" She cautiously replied.
"I just - I just wanted to know if - " Ruby paused, the words tripping from her mouth. "I know you said that you wanted to tell me, but was everything else just - just - "
"Oh." Luckily, Weiss understood her better than she knew herself. "Ruby, I may not have told you about my family or about my personal mission, but it wasn't a lie." She hesitated before taking Ruby's hand in her own. "I know why you may think that, but I never tried to hide who I was or tried to get close because I thought it would benefit me."
"If anything, you tried to push me away." Ruby chuckled and Weiss joined her.
"Yes." She smiled. "Now that all of my family drama is over with, I can now focus on other things."
"I know you asked me if I really wanted this, but do you?" Ruby couldn't help but ask.
"Ruby, I only joined the tournament for your sake."
Ruby looked away, feeling a blush rise once more in her cheeks.
"Your father even ensured that I was knighted before I joined. The moment I returned he told me what was going on. And I knew that I at least wanted to protect you from those who weren't actually interested or those who were interested but for all the wrong reasons." Weiss scooted a bit closer as she said that until their knees were touching. "And now that we know that this is what we both want…"
Weiss held both of Ruby's hands and brought them up, squeezing them tight. "Ruby, I promise to protect you to the best of my ability. I will follow your lead wherever you go and my sword is yours to command. I want you and I love you. Will you have me?"
Ruby felt herself getting a bit teary-eyed. "Of course," she replied, "but isn't it a bit too soon for the wedding vows?"
Weiss huffed and looked away, her face a bit flushed, "I just want you to know how I feel and assure you that I'll be here for you. Is that such a crime?"
"No," Ruby laughed and then she leaned in and pressed her forehead to Weiss's, making her freeze in place, "just as long as you know I'll be here for you, too."
Weiss was full out blushing now, and while red was usually Ruby's favorite color, she found this to be her favorite shade yet.
"May I kiss you, my knight?" Ruby asked in a slightly teasing tone.
Weiss smiled. "You may, my princess."
And as they finally came in for a kiss, Ruby couldn't wait for the ballad that Weiss would surely write about them.
The Princess and Her Knight.
Ruby liked the sound of that.
AN: KNIGHT WEISS! KNIGHT WEISS! KNIGHT WEISS!
I know that Weiss is set-up (by both her circumstances and her fairy tale analog) as the princess-type, but as the series continues Knight Weiss has truly begun to rise. I just love Weiss in the role of the knight. It's great so that's what I did here.
When I originally thought up this fic, I had it ending after Weiss's reveal as the White Knight and her asking for Ruby's hand only if it's willingly and Ruby accepting. Typical fairy tale ending, right? But as I re-worked it and added in elements, like how the Schnees fitting into this AU, their role (like at one point they and the Ironwoods were the dual rulers of Atlas but I decided to just make the Schnees like top-tier nobility instead), and how Weiss fits into that (plus her supposedly still being on family business was a good excuse to not be by Ruby's side like she would've been otherwise), I realized that I probably should explain what was going on with that and I ended it on a note that was just as sweet.
Oh, and as mentioned, the Schnees, including Weiss, do have magic in the form of their Glyphes in this world. Ruby remembers this fact at like 3 AM the next morning and burst into Weiss's room to ask if she had magic as well and promptly gets magicked out, as Weiss can do that to the princess now that they're engaged and she hates being woken up.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! I know I didn't do as many fics this year, but I had fun with the ones I did do.