[This is quite a bit longer than the usual ‘Tiny Tale’, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless 🙂
The picture used does not belong to me. The artist is Fusanosuke Inariya.]
Phillip bursts into into the prince’s room, only to find no prince in it. Hurrying back out, he runs into two guards, the ones who were supposed to be with the prince at all times.“Where’s the Prince?”
They look chagrined. “We were searching for him ourselves, sir.”
Phillip barely resists the urge to tear his hair out in frustration. “Little chance of him still being in the palace, then. You go to the stables, and I’ll look in the gardens.”
They salute him and rush off, and Phillip heads to the gardens, walking as fast as his ceremonial armor allows him to. Of all days for the prince to go missing, it has to be on the day of the royal wedding.
Muttering under his breath and swiftly dodging all the other palace staff who’re running about, making last minute preparations, he makes it out into the gardens. Since all the garden staff are busy decorating the banquet hall, the garden is deserted, making the prince easy to find.
Not that he’d have had any trouble anyway. The prince’s ceremonial armor has been polished to such an extent that it sparkles like a mirror in the cheery sunlight.
Now there’s a battle tactic, he thinks, smiling to himself. Blind the enemies with excessively sparkly armor.
Prince Gerard looks up from where he’s sitting on one of the many benches placed around the gardens.
“Prince Gerard, everyone’s looking for you so they can start the ceremony. What are you doing out here?”
“I shan’t say. You will laugh at me,” the prince responds, staring down at the grass.
The prince thought he’d laugh at sincere words? Phillip wouldn’t have that.
Crouching in the grass, he gently cups the prince’s chin. “Now, young prince, why do you say that? Do you really believe that I would laugh at something that has upset you so?”
Gerard looks into Phillip’s eyes through a fringe of golden hair, and he looks away. “No, you wouldn’t.”
“I wouldn’t.” Phillip nods. “Now tell me, what is the matter? You don’t want to go ahead with the wedding?”
“Of course it’s not about the wedding,” Gerard says, and Phillip lets out a breath he isn’t even aware of holding. “But… I am afraid.”
Phillip is quite surprised. He knows the prince has been feeling upset lately, but he didn’t think the prince would be afraid of anything, not when he has Phillip and and and entire army to protect him. He tucks a lock of hair behind a delicate, royal ear. “Afraid of what, my prince?”
“Afraid that I won’t be good enough for the people of this country. I’m afraid I wont be any good at diplomacy, or strategy, or any one of those things that a prince and vassal is supposed to be good at. I am only good at painting, and drawing, and mixing herbs and tending the horses. I am afraid I… I’m afraid I will be a great disappointment to everyone who thinks I am a good choice for any royal undertaking.”
Phillip saw right through the rambling, of course. He’d known Gerard long enough. “Who told you that, Gerard?”
“No one,” he says, not meeting Phillip’s eyes.
“I promise I won’t yell at anyone, my prince. You can tell me.” Phillip wouldn’t yell at them, but he would have rather severe words with them, no doubt. Even if what they’d said was true. There was something to be said for tact, after all.
Gerard wasn’t suited to military strategy and death and violence. He was more suited to teaching and medicine. He would rather spend time with the palace healer than hold a sword in his hands.
“You cannot yell at the Queen Mother anyway,” Gerard says.
“Ah.” Well, no, he wouldn’t be able to yell at the Queen Mother at all. Perhaps, though, he would have gentle words with her. But had the Queen Mother really said that about her cherished Gerard, the golden lad who could do no wrong? “Are you sure you didn’t mishear her, Gerard?”
The prince shook his head. “No.”
Phillip considers this. “Do you want to be good at diplomacy or strategy?”
“You know I would rather clean the stables,” Gerard scoffs. “But when I am prince, it will be expected of me to fulfill certain roles. I don’t want to let anyone down, I don’t want to let you down—”
“You will never let me down, my sweet,” Phillip says, cupping Gerard’s cheek and placing a tender kiss on his forehead. “I only ever want you to be happy. I know you’d rather be a healer than you would a prince, but our fates are so that we cannot be anything but royals.” He strokes the bottom of Gerard’s soft, pink lips. “But you can use your power as prince to help our people. Set up a library like you always dreamed of. Train more healers. There’s more than one way to be a good prince, sweet Gerard, and you are one already.”
Gerard smiles shyly. “Do you think so?”
“Of course, dear heart. You are quite simply the best prince in all the land, by the sole virtue of being your sweet spirited self.” Phillip stands up, accompanied by the creaking of his armor, and holds a hand out for the prince to take. “Come, Gerard. Our people are waiting, and I for one don’t want to be yelled at on my wedding day by the Queen Mother. You know she gets awfully upset when we don’t keep time.”
Gerard smiles brightly and places his hand in Phillip’s. “Of course, my King.”