The Impossible Roses' "Final" Encounter
* * *
Behind black lace curtains hung on a four poster bed, lay the ruler, her short golden spread messily on her pillow, her sheets bunching and wrinkling. The citizens spoke of her as The Queen of the Black Rose Country: Kuro Bara.
Mmhhnn . . . Who let the light in? It hurts.
I opened my eyes to discover hideously blinding light peeping through the curtains of my window. I know from that alone, I have to get up from my comfortable bed. Pushing the black lace bed curtains aside, I recognize the recently purchased dress for royal occasions; like I'm going to have today, hung up already. I can't help but have a look of distain for the dress was not to my liking and beyond the simple fact of it being a dress. A different design would be better, but the answer had to be "no". Even so, I still have to swallow my pride. Before wearing it, cleansing myself in my private bath is a requirement of mine. A touch of make-up and equipping my black rose choker, earrings, and ring is enough preparation for today's meeting. Stepping into the mirror to see myself is another requirement done every morning. I see a women that looked dashingly regal and oh so elegant, excluding the dress of course.
Servants greet me as I pass them along the way to the throne room. The castle is bustling with excitement of today's visitor. For the servants to be this excited, the visitor would have to be The King of the Blue Rose Country: Ao Bara.
All of my servants love him for he is gracious and polite to them, while the other rulers of the other rose countries treat them as if they were garbage if not dirt. I cannot blame the servants for feeling this way. Still, they make jokes of all kinds about Ao and me as a couple. When those jokes are made in front of us, he puts his arm around me and tells me to ignore it. This only makes me more flustered than I was to begin with. Then, he laughs with an actual smile that was rarely seen even by anyone's eyes, including mine...
The guards standing at their post open the grand doors to throne room for me. There stands The King of the Blue Rose Country, waiting for my arrival as The Queen.
"Why, Hello Ao."
He whirls around on his heels upon hearing my voice. His soft smile has everyone in the room relaxed. I notice his appearance of neatly tied up hair of the color crimson, blue slacks and jacket. Little has changed since we last met, but it seems that he has the same attire issues as I did. This is a given for being the ruler of one of the rose countries. Ill-favored clothing is considered extravagant for the rich. This isn't the first time that this has happened so I know that he brought an extra set clothes. All of the rulers of the rose countries did this.
Wouldn't it just be easier to wear our normal clothing?
"So there you are my Queen. It's absolutely marvelous to see you again." He speaks with glee.
"I'm glad to see that you're one piece considering all of the nasty things I've heard about the recent events in your country."
"Yes, well nothing can get to me that easily." He replies, pointing his thumbs at himself with an uneasy laugh following it. Ao was never that good of a liar. It really made one wonder how he got through difficult situations. I giggle falsely only to relieve the tension that Ao is feeling. I sympathize with him, since I've had it happen to me as well.
I wonder if he came to ask me for help.
"Would you like to see the garden and ditch that awful clothing?"
"Why yes I would. I made sure to bring an extra set of clothing too."
We leave the throne room and walk to the guest bedroom in complete silence. Thankfully the servants prepared the room the night before. If they had not then things would have got rather awkward. He certainly doesn't waste his time going into the room when I open the door to it. I ditch the dress for a pair of black pants and a long sleeve black shirt the minute I close my door. It feels so much better to have my normal clothes on than the revolting dress which needed to be burned. Sadly though, I couldn't burn it since I promised the tailor I wouldn't. I knew I shouldn't have made that promise. Even rulers make senseless decisions.
Waiting outside my door, Ao stands there dressed in his simple blue clothing, his crimson hair let down past his shoulders. No matter how Ao fixes his hair, it looks exquisite. It's impossible to not swoon over it unless you've become immune it, which happened to me. Without saying a single word, I gesture with my hand for him to follow me to where we would continue our meeting.
"Everyone seems to be doing well." He notes as we walk along the long corridor. His expression is bitter as I analyze him with my green and blue eyes.
"While that is true, there are still people who suffer in this country of mine." I know that what I said was not going to help him, but what else could I say? I certainly don't know and I don't think he does.
"I don't doubt it. At least your country worked hard for it unlike the Red Rose Country, who bribed their way to prosperity." The scorn in his voice is hidden from hard of hearing ears.
His scorn is not felt by himself alone. I also feel his deep scorn for the Red Rose Country. We were both in grave poverty when the Red Rose Country suddenly gained prosperity. We could only sit there with our mouths shut and smile falsely for their new fortune. Oh how our insides burned with such intensity at the time and they still do when we meet the Red Rose Country's ruler: Aka Bara.
Ever since the Red Rose Country became prosperous, they've become such snobs and act arrogant when they want something to happen in their favor. It's apparent when they visit other countries and when we have visited them in their own home country. We have every right to hate them.
Aside from Aka, we are on friendly terms with the other leaders. We don't all like each other, nor do we all hate each other. So, there are no huge conflicts to cause problems or a war. Well, this is to my knowledge as my other job as an information broker.
I stretch out my hand for Ao's as we come closer to the door, leading to the garden. As our hands cup together, I see the tension over Aka leave him. A gentle breeze blows into the castle as the door opens, revealing the tranquil garden. To my surprise, every plant is in full bloom. The black rose bushes surround an antique table, covered by a black table cloth, completed with a tea set and various baked goods. The servants always did know what I desired for my meetings with Ao. They must have eavesdropped to learn what kind of meeting I was to have with Ao. Such things made meetings of terrible news, news that made out hearts sink down, bearable. The taste of sweet cake has our taste buds rolling over in ecstasy before the fresh milk brings them back down to earth. Mellowed out is the term to describe it. Not all of our past meetings were like this. Many of our encounters were full of joy, copious laughter and more than enough excitement to keep a writer's pen going for pages. But these unpleasant meetings are bound to happen, so long as we rule over the Black and Blue Rose Countries. Despite that, among other dreadful duties, we still carry on like we have before as bongu, knowing our situation would improve.
"I heard the other rose countries are doing well in the conditions they are in," he spoke with a slight frown. This is nothing new at these meetings; even a smirk would be better than the expression he holds now.
"Yes, the Purple and the Green Rose Country have gained a step up from their previous living standards." Compared to the other Rose Countries, the Purple and the Green have not been a country for the amount of time as the other countries.
Ao's expression still didn't change after eating a pastry and drinking from his teacup. It makes me uneasy; I know something is really eating at him. Ao may seem perfect, but this is one of his flaws: keeping his true feelings to himself, to the point where he will do anything in his power to keep you from knowing anything. He hates it when others are concerned for his wellbeing. That flaw of his deeply worries me. It may even get him killed one day.
"The Orange Rose Country is doing a number of different projects, which they won't reveal the details until they're complete." Ao learned to his left side, his hand placed on his left cheek as he sighs heavily, his dissatisfaction bleeding through, "In all honesty, I am not surprised. The people of the Orange Rose Country are full of energy equal to a child who can't sit still, passion only a few Blue Rose citizens have, strong enthusiasm to keep them going every day, fascination to bewitch them, and pride that is unrivaled by any other country in the Rose Kingdom.
"Now his expression reveals his true emotions. He is not necessarily jealous of the Orange Rose Country; it is as if he was disappointed in himself for some "failure" in leadership. Deep down, I had seen long ago his self-dissatisfaction and anguish paired into self-hatred. Many a time, I tried to help, even now I try to help him with these feelings he holds so tightly inside.
"But they will never have what makes the Blue Rose Country so wonderful, Ao." I'm starting to feel my words are no longer reaching him. Maybe my words stopped reaching him long before now. If my words truly stopped long ago, then I feel like a fool for spouting nonsense and a complete failure as well.
"What exactly would that be, my dear Kuro?" He questions, raising his teacup with his hand while looking like a child questioning their parent.
That's it. I can't take it anymore of this moping of his, his fatal flaw, and the wall he puts up all the time. The chains and locks holding me back are now broken. My breaking point is shattering to pieces. There's nothing left keeping it from coming out now. Absolutely nothing.
I stand up, slamming my hands flat against the table as I open my mouth to let it all out, "Open your eyes and look around for goodness sake! Citizens of the Rose Kingdom fawn over the citizens of the Blue rose country. The exquisite beauty of your country's work and its air of mystery draw the citizens of the Rose Kingdom like moths to a flame, especially the Orange and Red Rose Country's citizens. The Orange Rose citizens admire and revere your country, they believe their little top secret projects could never compare to your country's creations of elegance. The Red rose citizens may be full of themselves, but they know and envy the beauty of your citizens. So what if the Orange Rose has Pride, the Red Rose has Affection, the Yellow Rose has Friendship, the Purple Rose has Enchantment, the Pink Rose has Grace, the Green Rose has Fertility, the White Rose has Purity, and my Black Rose has Courage?! Your Blue Rose has what the other rose countries don't have: A truly marvelous Personality! You have what our citizens could never attain, so quit thinking of yourself as a failure!!!"
Smash went the teacup from Ao's grip, spilling its contents onto the saucer plate and tablecloth as well. Shocked is the perfect word to describe Ao's face. Most people would be shocked like Ao after having that rant thrown at them, particularly especially since Kuro never uttered a rant of that intensity before.
Oh divinity, what have I done?! How could I do that to the one person closest to me? I'm such a horrible person. I had no right to do that. He'll hate me for it, surely he will. If he hits me, I deserve it. Forgiveness isn't an option. I feel so guilty about it. What should I-
Suddenly, he stands up, pushing his chair back. Swiftly, he comes towards me. I want to say sorry so badly, but my mouth won't open. Instead, I shut my eyes as tightly as I can. Slapping me after what I said would not have been surprising.
Instead of the back of Ao's hand across my face, I feel his palms cupping my slender cheeks. Slowly opening my eyes, a smile is faintly visible on his pale face.
"I'm honestly sorry Ao, that was-" He stops me, pressing a finger to my lips. Pulling me forward in his grip, his right hand slides between my shoulders blades, while his left runs through my thin golden hair. "No it was not, Kuro."
Confusion continuously rattles my brain. Holding me in his arms instead of storming off in a huff? This must be a dream, unless I'm actually hallucinating. The awkwardness of Ao's actions is at a boiling point. It's just so irrational!
"You're the first to tell me that Kuro." His grip tightens as my brain proceeded to explode from the strange turn of events. His smile keeps growing bit by bit, finally blooming into a grin starting at one cheek and ending at the other. At last I understand.
Finally they reached him. My words.
Under the cherry blossom tree, we sit drifting into space, our awful meeting over. No longer do we talk of other countries. The rest of the visit is all about us, enjoying the time we have time we have together while it lasts. We sit together, just the two of us as the rest of the world moves along.
* * *
Ao tugs at my sleeve, gesturing toward the castle. I nod in response before standing up with him. We walk back to castle, leaving our peaceful hideaway in silence. There are things which go unsaid for a reason. We've become closer in my perspective and most likely in his as well. Our dinner awaits us as we enter the dining room. Greeted by the smiles of the servants, we take our places at the table. As we feast, jokes of all kinds are told, laughter rings out, and it ends pleasantly with the dirtiest of humor.
"Rest easy, my Queen."
"You too, my King."
The Next Morning . . .
"Hold up Ao!"
Ao steps down from getting into his carriage, his dreadful royal attire back on. "What's wrong Kuro?"
I hold up a black rose in my hand as I breathe heavily from running.
"I don't remember switching gender roles after-" Ao's cheekiness only gets him a boot to the head. For some reason he doesn't learn from the past . . . or he likes having a boot to his head. It doesn't matter which right now.
He stares at the rose, puzzled. "I'm fairly sure women don't give men flowers."
Since when do I follow other countries social customs? Or is he being cheeky again? It's hard to tell what he means at times.
He steps into his carriage, closing the door on his way in, letting out an exasperated breath as he sits back in his seat. It's clear why he sighs: It is because he must return to his country, where poverty and chaos await him. The recent rumors of assassination plans, public execution, and forcing the citizens into slaves for the illegal activity of saccharide add to the chaos. Every day he deals with this left and right and help is nowhere to be found. I wouldn't want to go back either.
"Thank you for this beautiful black rose from your lush rose bushes." He answers as he takes the rose from my outstretched hand, holding it up to his nose to sniff its sweet fragrance.
The carriage starts to move towards its destination. I continue to stand there until they're out my sight. I know I should go back inside to do work, but I want to stay outdoors. I feel so much better here than I do inside the castle. Maybe it's because I feel free out here and trapped in there. Or something along those lines.
Two Weeks Later . . .
God there's so much paperwork this week! Then there's that congregation of the Rose Kingdom next week. It gives me a headache just thinking about it and this rain isn't helping it either. Ugh!
The pitter patter of the rain transforms into hard hail, banging against objects of every kind. It's been stormy like this since Ao's departure 2 weeks ago. I hate it. The servants have to run around taking care of the leaks. This castle needs to be tore down and rebuild from the ground up, probably during the summer when it's dry. The problem will be finding men who will be willing to do the work. Well, I'll just have Juvia work on it after the congregation.
Clang! I look out the window to see what the noise is. Three cloaked men are at the gate waiting for an answer. They are neither from any Rose Country's army nor the Rose Kingdom's guard. It seems as though I am the only one to hear them. I rush out of the room down to the front door, whipping on my hooded cloak before running out to them.
"What is your business here, strangers?" I shout out as the doors behind me swing closed.
The men take a step back as I come closer. They didn't think The Queen would come out herself. The tallest of the men comes forward with an envelope in his hand. He hands it to me through the gate. Before I can say anything they hop on their horses swiftly and ride away as fast as they can. I stuff the envelope under my cloak and run back inside. There I hang my wet cloak, then pull out the envelope to open.
A letter? That's strange since no one writes to me. Wonder what's written in it?
It is not long before my legs buckle; salty tears escape my eyes, and flow down my color drained face.
No. No! NO!!! It can't be. Oh divinity, this can't be happening. Now of all times? It just can't be happening! It just can't!!!!!!!!
The Blue Rose Country has fallen and so has The King.
A large bolt of lightning strikes outside; an earsplitting, if not deafening boom is heard for miles.