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Title: A Sort-Of Fairy Tale, Chapter 3
Chapter: Chapter 3 of ?
Author: Boots
Rating: This chapter PG, eventual series rating NC-17
Genre: Fairy tale AU, romance, drama
Warning: For this chapter, just language
Pairing: Final pairings of the series confidential for now. Currently, it involves Yo-ka (DIAURA) with a harem that includes Subaru (Royz), MiA (Mejibray), Yuuki (Lycaon/Initial’L), Ruiza (D), Hiyori (Kiryu) and Hiro (Fest Vainqueur). Also Toya (Gotcharocka) x Subaru.
Disclaimer: DIAURA belongs to Ains, Royz and Kiryu belong to B.P. Records, Mejibray belongs to White Side Group, D and Gotcharocka belong to God Child Records, Fest Vainqueur belongs to PLUG RECORDS west, and I’m not yet sure who Initial’L’s new company is. I own the story only.
Overall Story Summary: Once upon a time, there was a prince named Yo-ka whose father forced him to go through a Culling – a process by which a group of young men are gathered from each district of his kingdom and he eliminates them one by one until he finds his true love. There was another prince named Toya, who came along to offer his brother moral support, but planned to stay away from the fray. And there was a candidate named Subaru, who arrived from one of the country’s poorest districts with little more than a head full of dreams. All three were about to get more than they bargained for . . .
Chapter Summary: The third round of the Culling is moved to the district of Charlotte – where Toya has a palace. One prince explores a new sport, the other rekindles his love for an old one, and Subaru finds himself getting closer to both. But then, there’s also that nobleman from Lycaon who’s caught one prince’s eye . . .
Comments: A funboard, which Toya uses for his lesson here, is a smaller and softer board than the popular longboard, and it’s especially designed for beginners. You can find out more about it here.

Subaru rushed out into the hall the next morning, after the servants came to take his new suitcase and his surfboard. He was hoping, praying he'd see his friends among the guys who were assembling to move on to the next castle.

The first person he caught sight of was Ruiza. Then, he saw Hiyori, and Hiro . . . and finally, MiA rushed into the room behind him.

“Am I late?” MiA said.

“No,” said Subaru. “But you scared me for a moment!”

“We all made it!” Ruiza said. “That means we're half of the top ten!”

“And we all know who the sixth person was,” Hiyori said. “There's no way in hell Yuuki didn't make the cut.”

The Earl came up to the boys, looking rather frazzled. “Good morning, gentlemen,” he said. “It seems there's been a change in our schedule.”

“What kind of change?” Subaru said.

“We're not going to Versailles,” the Earl said. “We're going to Charlotte instead.”

“WHAT?” said Ruiza. “But you told us yesterday . . .”

“Sorry, gentlemen. It can't be helped,” said the Earl. “Now, if you will excuse me . . .”

They watched him go. “What was that about?” MiA said.

“Bet it has something to do with Teru,” Hiyori said, carefully sitting down on one of the pieces of luggage piled in front of them.

“Hey!” said Hiro. “That's my luggage!”

“Okay,” Hiyori said, standing up. “I'll sit on Ruiza's instead. But seriously – all those guys who bet on Teru and lost? Bet they're kicking themselves – and ready to kick other people. Specifically, kick US because we’re still in the running.”

“I still don't know why people are betting on this,” Subaru said.

But there was a thought in the back of his mind – when Toya had first told him about the waves in Lycaon, he said they were second only to the ones in Charlotte. Whatever happened to cause the venue shift, it was a happy accident.

He was going to get Toya up on a surfboard – in a place with the best surfing in the country.

* * *

Rather than travel by train, the royal party took a boat to their new destination. Fortunately, Toya had managed to round up and rouse enough staff that there were a full complement of cars waiting for them at the dock.

“You will find your schedule in your rooms, again,” the Earl announced. “There will be four individual dates, and then one group date with the remaining six people. If you had an individual date in Lycaon, you will be on the group date here.”

“So that means I'm free until the end of the week,” Subaru said out loud. He was kind of disappointed at the idea of reduced time with Yo-ka.

“I wonder what kind of dates they ended up arranging at the last minute,” MiA said as he and Subaru climbed into a car.

“I'd just like to know why we couldn't go to Versailles,” Subaru said. “They don't let us read newspapers or listen to the radio, so there's no way we could find out.”

“I don't think they want us to find out,” MiA said, glumly. “Meaning, there may be more to this Teru thing than we think.”

When they got to the palace, however, the focus shifted to seeing who got what dates. MiA charged out of his room into the hall absolutely beaming. “Subaru!” he called. “I got the first individual date!”

“Terrific!” Subaru said. “I'm so glad – you deserve it, MiA.” He quietly wondered how he would feel if he found out that Yo-ka was falling for his best friend among this group. Would he be happy? Yes, but . . . . he couldn't deny he'd be jealous. Well, maybe just a little.

When they met up for dinner, they found out that the third date of the week went to Ruiza. “I'm on the group date again,” Hiyori said, glumly.

“So am I,” Hiro said. “Subaru, you’re going to have company.”

“I don't mind,” Subaru said. “Though . . . I'd like to see more of the prince.”

“We all would,” MiA said. “Honestly – who decided we could only see him during dates? Doesn’t that seem counterproductive if he’s supposed to be, you know, building relationships with us?”

Subaru glanced across the room, where Yuuki of Lycaon was eating with a few of the other remaining candidates. I wonder if he got an individual date, he thought. He knew he really should stop seeing Yuuki as a rival. Not as if he was a front runner, right? They were all equal at this point.

He was getting the impression, though, that Yuuki was more equal than the rest of them.

As he was headed back to his room, he heard a voice calling his name in the corridor. He turned to see Toya. “Oh, hi!” he said. “My date isn't until the end of the week.”

“I know,” Toya said. “The group date. I was just arranging it. You're going to like it, I think. My brother came up with the concept while we were on the way over. So . . . I got the funboard! I'm ready to have my first lesson with it when you are.”

“Think you're ready to start tomorrow?” Subaru said.

“I know I'm ready,” Toya said. “Heck, I'd be ready now!”

“You don't want to go surfing at night,” Subaru said. “Well, when you're more experienced you can, but when you're new? You won't be able to see anything!”

“Well, then, I'll have to practice more so I can be experienced, right?” he said. “I'm really glad you're still here, Subaru.”

“I'm glad I'm still here, too,” he said. “It's going to be very hard to go back home to Royz after this.” He turned. “See you after breakfast on the beach?”

“You've got it!” Toya said.

Subaru headed for his room, suddenly feeling very happy.

* * *

Toya's first time on the funboard went pretty much like Subaru expected. He stood up, wobbled, and immediately wiped out.

“It's okay,” he said. “We all do that the first time. You just need to remember your balance. Keep it centered as much as possible.”

“Must be easier to do this as a kid,” Toya said, getting back on the board and starting to paddle again. “You're lower to the ground. Less to keep balanced.”

“Yes, but you have shorter legs,” Subaru said. “You can't move as fast.”

A few more tries, and Toya was finally able to stand up for more than a few seconds. By the time afternoon rolled around, he successfully rode a wave all the way in to the shore. “YES!” he shouted, pumping his fist in the air. “Finally!”

“I knew you could do it!” Subaru said.

“I didn't!” Toya said. “But since I did? I want to do it again!” He paddled out into the water.

Subaru watched his student. He looks like a kid right now, he thought. Happy and carefree. More than he's ever been when he's at home, I'll bet.

He couldn't help but notice how Toya's smile lit up his entire face. It seemed to start from the very bottom of his soul and spread everywhere, making everyone who looked at him feel happy, too. It made Subaru feel warm from the inside out.

Maybe . . . a little too warm. Should he really be feeling that way?

He quickly grabbed his board and threw himself back into the water, desperately needing the distraction for the moment.

* * *

That night, MiA was all smiles about his date. “He took me to a place where you could pedal little boats around a lake – you know, with bicycle pedals. And after we did that, we had cocktails and talked and I said I'd play the guitar for him when we got back. Which I did. He waited for me to get my guitar and we went to the pavilion back there” - he pointed behind the palace - “and I did a few songs.”

“Sounds like you had a great day,” Ruiza said.

“He really isn't how I'd think a prince would be, you know?” MiA said. “He's like someone I would have known back home. Somebody you'd go out to a bar with.” He smiled a little. “Makes you wonder why he felt he had to do this Culling stuff to get a husband.”

“I don't think it was his choice,” Subaru said, quietly. “I think he'd rather just date like anyone else.”

“I sure as hell wouldn't want to do this,” Ruiza said. “Can you imagine having to send someone home? Especially if you like him, but don't like him enough?”

“That's why the ribbon thing, you know,” Hiro said. “So he doesn't have to do it in person.”

Meanwhile, the object of their conversation and his brother were having dinner on the back terrace, listening to reports from a couple of advisors.

“Stories about the unrest in Versailles have been on the news all over the place,” said the black-suited man standing by their table. “Rumor has it the protests are starting to spread to other aristocratic areas.”

“Just lovely,” Yo-ka said. “Does my father know about it yet?”

“If he does, he's said nothing, Your Highness,” said the advisor. “I imagine he will have to pretty soon, in order to nip this thing in the bud.”

“I can just imagine what he's going to say, all right,” Toya grumbled.

“Let him say what he wants,” Yo-ka said. “I did nothing wrong. I followed the guidelines of a Culling. You eliminate candidates as you choose.”

“Yes, sir, but Cullings have usually been done with one eye on politics,” said the advisor.

“Well, they shouldn't be,” Yo-ka said. “If these protestors could see the guys that I kept, if they could know their personalities . . .” He suddenly got an idea. “Can we get one of the radio hosts in here? I mean, one of those guys that hosts a talk show?”

“Why ever would you want to do that for?” said the advisor. “Princes usually stay isolated from the public during Cullings.”

“It's not so much me,” Yo-ka said. “I want him to interview the guys. I want their stories to be on the radio. Maybe if the public knew who they were, they'd come to like them, and that would calm things down a little.”

“I wouldn't do that right away,” Toya said. “Wait until you get down to the top six. It's a better story if there's fewer guys.”

“Fine,” Yo-ka said. “Six guys, then. That's two weeks from now, when we're in . . .” He thought for a moment. “Dauto. If this protest thing is still going on then, we'll do a group radio interview with the candidates in Dauto.”

“You are sure about this, sir? Your father might . . .”

“It is my choice and my Culling in the end, not his,” Yo-ka said. “Yes, I'm sure.”

Once he was gone, Toya said, “You really are being brave, aren't you?”

“It's the best way to stop this,” Yo-ka said. “I don't want Father sending troops into Versailles. That will only make things worse. They'll start an independence movement then, and there hasn't been a country that split off from this one since . . . well, over a hundred years ago.”

“You could have avoided this whole thing by keeping Teru, you know,” Toya said.

“Toya,” Yo-ka said. “come on. You know me. Would I have done that? Would I have kept someone I knew it wouldn’t work out with? Especially if it would be unfair to both me and him?”

“Never in a billion years,” Toya said.

“Bingo,” Yo-ka said. “I might be going along with this farce, but I'm not compromising my heart and soul to do it – or anyone else’s, for that matter.”

Quietly, though, he wondered if his father might have an extreme reaction – send troops into Versailles, call the Culling off, try to marry Yo-ka off to a foreign princess . . .

And if he tries that, he thought, I just might start an independence movement of my own.

* * *

The rest of the week, Subaru divided his time between the beach – where he and Toya patiently worked on his surfing – and a little park beside the palace, which was the favored hangout spot for himself and his friends.

He had to admit that his favorite time of the day was always when he and Toya were done with the lesson. They'd sit on blankets on the beach, drying off and chatting.

“I'm starting to like this place,” Subaru said on the third day. “It feels kind of homey, even though it's a big palace.”

“I make sure it's that way,” Toya said. “I don't want to come home to a place that feels, you know, formal. I want a place where I can lie on the rug listening to the radio in a T-shirt and shorts.”

“That sounds like fun,” Subaru said.

“And then, when I don't feel like doing that, I go into town and everyone treats me as just a regular guy,” he said. “They just wave and say hello.” He looked over at Subaru. “I should take you and your friends into town, actually. Are they doing anything this afternoon?”

“Ruiza's out with Yo-ka,” Subaru said. “The others are available.”

“Why don't I round them all up and show you the place, then?” Toya said. “I think I count as a chaperone if I'm a member of the royal family.”

“You won't get us in trouble?” Subaru said.

“Who would I get you in trouble with?” said Toya. “I'll tell the Earl, if you're worried he's going to make a fuss.”

“Well . . . okay,” Subaru said. “If they all agree.”

“Great,” Toya said. “Let's go find them, then!” He stood up and held out a hand to Subaru, to help him up. Subaru took it . . .

And suddenly, it felt right. Very right. As if the two of them clasping hands was the most natural thing in the world.

He scrambled to his feet and said, quickly, “Let's go.”

* * *

As it turned out, the others were easy to round up and eager to see the town, so before long, they were all seated in a long black car, with seats wide enough to fit all five of them – there were two benches in the back of the car, facing each other.

“This is the old part of town,” Toya said as they drove down a street lined with historical buildings. “Charlotte was actually one of the earlier settlements in this country. There's families who have lived in some of these homes for six generations.”

“Why don't we have a representative of this district in the Culling?” Subaru said.

“Charlotte and Valluna are considered principalities,” Toya said. “Since each one is governed by a prince after he gets married, they have different status than the rest of the districts. Anyone from either of them who participated in a Culling is seen as having an unfair advantage.”

“Like being from a higher district isn't?” Hiro said.

“It didn't help Teru, did it?” Hiyori said. “He was gone in the first round, remember?”

“So we're entering the town center now,” Toya said, quickly, wanting to avoid the subject of Teru. “The big park over there is known as Charlotte's Green, it's where the King's Birthday Fair is held .. .”

Eventually, they came to an area that Toya called the Entertainment District, sporting theaters for both live performances and movies, restaurants, and several bars and nightclubs.

“Oh, wait!” he told the driver. “We have to stop here!”

“What is it?” Subaru said.

“My favorite izakaya,” Toya said. “We've got to have beer and yakitori here!”

“We can do that?” MiA said. “Have beer, I mean?”

“As long as we don't have too much of it,” Toya said. “If I got you drunk, I'd be in trouble.”

They entered the establishment – which was, like most izakayas, a casual place – white-painted walls covered with paintings of the town in former days, long tables where groups of friends could sit, waiters bustling around with pitchers and platters of skewers.

“Oh, hello, Toya!” the head waiter said, bowing. “And you have company today, I see!”

“Some guests of me and my brother,” Toya said, casually. “We'll have a round of your best beers and your best yakitori.”

“Coming right up, sir!” the man said.

When they were settled in their seats, Hiro said, “Can we just stay in this town instead of moving on? I mean, seriously?”

“I second that!” Subaru said.

“I wish that were the case, guys,” Toya said. “But we really do need to move on. Rules are rules. Not that I exactly care for them a hundred percent.”

“So you're going to be the governor of this district after you get married?” MiA sad.

“Officially,” Toya said. “I'm going to end up appointing an administrator to do the real day-to-day running of the place, since I'll be traveling a lot.” He paused. “Hey, maybe I can bring you guys with me. Every traveling royal needs an entourage. What do you guys do that might be a useful skill?”

“I'm a photographer,” MiA said. “I guess that's useful.”

“Very useful!” Toya said. “I could definitely bring along a photographer. What about you, Hiyori?”

“I'm in a dance troupe,” he said. “That's not going to help you.”

“It might if we were going to a foreign country,” Toya said. “We might want to demonstrate our traditional culture. Hiro?”

“Well, I work in my family's ice cream shop . . .”

“Do you make the ice cream?” Toya said.
“We always do,” Hiro said. “It's a family recipe.”

“Ice cream is always useful!” said Toya. “And Subaru? We know about the surfing.”

“I work for a tugboat company . . .” he said.

“You've piloted the boats, then?”

“A little.”

“We can have you taught to be a captain, then,” Toya said. “You know the ocean, after all!” He raised his glass. “It's settled. We're all going to be traveling together someday.”

“We need to bring Ruiza, too,” Subaru said. “He's a perfume chemist.”

“They're going to need perfume where we're going, too!” said Toya.

As they clinked glasses, Subaru thought, Toya isn't taking into account that more than likely, one of us might be married to his brother by the time Toya is married and traveling around.

And why did the idea of Toya married cause a strange sort of queasiness in the pit of his stomach?

* * *

Subaru was tired by the time they got back from the izakaya. He forced himself to go to dinner – and he didn't eat much, given the amount of yakitori he'd consumed – for two reasons. First, to hear about Ruiza's date (he raved about it, they went to a donut place that let you fill your own cream or jelly donut and then took the results out onto Charlotte's Green to eat and talk). Second, to get his instructions for the group date.

“Wear comfortable clothes you can move around in,” the Earl said. “Be at the front gate after breakfast.”

“Comfortable clothes?” MiA said. “Isn't that unusual for a date?”

“Must not involve going anywhere fancy,” Hiro said. “That's okay. I like casual better anyway.”

The group was waiting outside at the appointed hour, dressed accordingly, when they were approached by the prince, who was wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

“Yes, I do own clothes like this,” he said. “Good morning, everyone! I think we're going to have fun today. The activity I have planned is something that used to be near and dear to my heart – and I'm hoping to have it be dear again.”

He led the way to a pair of long cars, like the ones Subaru's group took yesterday, which sent them into the heart of town. When they were at the border of the entertainment district, they stopped.

“Right here,” Yo-ka said. “I think it's going to be self-explanatory what the place is.”

Subaru looked up at the sign overhanging the entrance of the building – and saw a giant edifice of a bowling ball and pin.

“Bowling?” he said, the conversation he'd had with Yo-ka during their date suddenly leaping into his mind. “We're going bowling?”

“You've got it,” Yo-ka said.

“That's . . .” Subaru suddenly felt a strange swelling of happiness inside him. “Wonderful.”

The group entered the bowling alley. When Yo-ka went to sign them in, the man behind the desk asked if he was experienced or a novice.

“I have experience, but it’s been awhile,” Yo-ka said. “Way, way too long.”

He rented shoes and bowling balls for all of them. Subaru whispered to his two friends, “Have you ever done this?”

“Maybe once, when I was a kid,” Hiyori said.

“Good,” Subaru replied. “You're in the same boat I am.”

“All right!” Yo-ka said, coming toward the group. “Go up to the counter and tell them what kind of shoes you wear, and we'll get started!”

Unfortunately, it became apparent very quickly just how long it had been since the prince had bowled. The first ball he threw went straight into the gutter. The second knocked down two pins in a far corner. He shrugged. “It'll get better!” he said.

Subaru wasn't much better. He knocked down a single pin on his first ball, and his second went into the gutter as well. As a bowler, I'm a pretty good surfer, he thought.

Hiro, on the other hand, did quite well. In fact, on his third frame, he got a strike, much to his own surprise. He stood in the middle of the alley, saying, “Whoa. WHOA. Did you see that?”

“That mean we have to buy you a round of drinks?” Hiyori said.

“I don't think we're allowed to drink on dates,” Hiro said. “But thanks for the thought.”

As the game wore on, though, Yo-ka improved. It was as if he were relearning old, long-forgotten rhythms, and he ended the game with a solid spare. “Yes!” he said, punching his fist in the air. “I've still got it!”

Afterward, they went to a soda shop adjacent to the bowling alley – where they were each going to have their one-on-one time with the prince. Yo-ka was at one table, the guys would take turns going up to him, one by one.

When it was Subaru's turn, Yo-ka smiled as he approached the table. “Hi,” he said. “I guess I should thank you.”

“For the idea?” Subaru said.

“For making me even think about bowling again,” Yo-ka said. “I've forgotten how much I liked it. It's probably a good thing we didn't go to Versailles. I don't think they have any bowling alleys there.”

“Yo-ka,” Subaru said, quietly, “why didn't we go there?”

“I'm not allowed to talk about it,” Yo-ka said. “I'm sorry.” He paused. “But just between you and me? I'm really glad we didn't. I've had fun here. Besides, I’ve spent enough time there. I had to go there a lot when I was a kid – I've got an uncle who lives there.”

“Really?” Subaru said. “Sorry – it's hard to think about . . .”

“Royalty having uncles and aunts? We do. Every royal family has several heirs, remember. And my uncle lived in a really uptight neighborhood.”

“My uncle has a fish shop,” Subaru said. “He's such a nice guy, but his home? It stinks to high heaven. You have to hold your breath when you go in there.”

Yo-ka laughed. “Subaru, you make me want to see Royz.”

“I do?” Subaru said.

“It sounds like such a relaxed place,” Yo-ka said. “A relaxed place filled with mellow people.”

“People are comfortable with themselves and their surroundings,” Subaru said. “They live and breathe the sea. It's what they do, it's what they are. It's a simple way of life, sure, but one that makes people happy.”

“And that's why you're happy?” Yo-ka said.

“I'm happy because I'm doing what I always wanted to do,” Subaru said. “I'm going places and seeing things. I guess I'm that rare person from Royz who needs more than the sea to be happy.”

“But the sea does make you happy, doesn't it?” Yo-ka said. “I've seen you surfing.”

Subaru felt a momentary panic – did Yo-ka knew he'd been tutoring his brother? Would he be in trouble if he did? “You have?”

“My window in this palace faces the ocean,” Yo-ka said. “I watched you first thing in the morning, before breakfast. You looked like you were one with the wave. It was like, well, some kind of ballet.”

“First thing in the morning is when you can get the best swells,” Subaru said, blushing a little. So he saw his pre-breakfast solo surfing, not the lessons.

“I wanted to have something that made me as happy as surfing makes you,” Yo-ka said. “That's one reason I started bowling again. So . . . I have you to thank twice over, I guess.”

Subaru swallowed hard. Yo-ka's words were making his heart swell. The fact that he could do this for someone, help them recover a joy they'd lost . . . and, of course, the fact that it was Yo-ka just made it twice as emotional.

“You don't have to,” he told the other man. “The pleasure is mine.”

* * *

Once again, Yo-ka found himself with a stack of rosettes and a decision to make. Only two guys to eliminate this time, thank God – and he pretty much knew which two it was going to be.

Yuuki's ribbon was conspicuous by its absence again, because Yo-ka had given it to him at the conclusion of their one-on-one date. It was a no-brainer. They'd just done what Toya had suggested – hung out at a beach bar – because it seemed a natural for Yuuki.

In his heart of hearts, Yuuki really was a regular guy – no, an adventurous guy on the edge – who just happened to have been born into a hoity-toity family.

They'd talked about Yuuki's performing career, and the musicians he'd worked with, and the fact that he actually hid that he was a nobleman in publicity materials. “You'd be surprised at how much reverse prejudice there is,” he said. “Just like people say some people shouldn't have made it this far in your Culling, people think a guy from a family like mine shouldn't be onstage. What the hell am I supposed to do, sit around salons filing my nails all my life?”

“Oh, I understand perfectly,” Yo-ka said. “And it would be a waste if you sat around filing your nails. Even though you have very nice nails.”

They also talked about holidays, and the costumes they'd worn last Halloween. Yo-ka had hosted a party at the palace where he was a vampire and his brother was a zombie. Yuuki had performed that night, covered in a pink, blood-spattered nurse's uniform.

“So if you were going to a Halloween party as a couple,” Yo-ka said, “would you want to have matching costumes?”

“Absolutely,” Yuuki said. “But not necessarily playing characters who are a couple. Maybe something like two oni. Or two ghosts wearing ancient kimono.”

“You've got a deal,” Yo-ka said.

“Do you plan to invite me to a Halloween party?” Yuuki said. “It's a couple of months off now.”

He so wanted to say yes – but he knew damn well he had to be Pledged to someone by Halloween, and that person may or may not be Yuuki. Fuck this Culling shit, Yo-ka thought.

“Maybe,” he said. “But we could always throw a costume ball before this Culling is done.”

Now, Yo-ka placed the ribbons on the rosettes of the guys he knew were going to stay. Down to eight now. After the next city, Pentagon, they'd be down to six. And when we're down that far, he thought, we're going to stop this ribbon delivery stuff. I'm going to go to the two guys I'm eliminating in person and talk to them. At that point, I owe them an explanation.

An aide came into the room. “Don't tell me we can't go to Pentagon, either,” Yo-ka said.

“No, Your Highness,” the aide said. “The advance scouts report back that you're in no danger there.”

“Because I DID eliminate their representative on the second cut, you know,” Yo-ka said.

“They're a Middle District, sir. An Upper Middle District, to be sure, but still Middle. They don't think they're entitled to be at the end like the Upper Districts, you know.” He paused. “But we DO have a problem with the Upper Districts. The Versailles protests have, indeed, spread. They are definitely planning to send a delegation of protesters to the capital when you make your final choice. And there's people saying they won't accept your final choice as Prince-Consort when the time comes.”

“There's no guarantee I'm going to get married as a result of this thing, remember,” Yo-ka said.

“You're going to have to have a Consort eventually, you know,” said the advisor.

“Don't remind me,” Yo-ka said.

He watched the advisor go, and began putting the ribbons into their boxes – the two “no” ribbons first, to get their distasteful presence out of his face.

Yo-ka realized the stakes of this thing had gotten higher. His father had said if he didn't choose someone in this Culling, he would start over again from scratch. But he doubted his father would have another if this failed. No, he'd make good on his threat to make an arranged marriage with a foreign princess.

Either way, if Yo-ka didn't find a soul mate from this, he'd be stuck married to someone he didn't want to be married to, and having affairs on the side to satisfy his needs. Ironically, he'd be going back to the same kind of “carousing” this Culling was supposed to eliminate.

Maybe I can just run away to Royz and get a job on one of those merchant boats Subaru was talking about, he thought, ruefully. But then I'd just be sticking Toya with all this, and I don't want to do that, either.

Everything was riding on his radio interview gamble. If he could turn public sentiment around once they got to know his candidates, the protests would stop, and the chance of him having another Culling if things didn't work out would increase.

If he couldn't, though, he was doomed – and his father would crack down harder on him than ever before. Furthermore, Toya was almost guaranteed of an arranged marriage.

“You're a risk-taker, Yuuki?” he said out loud. “Well, so am I.”

And with everything riding on it – for both him and his brother – the risk had better work out.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2016 05:17 am (UTC)
Seems like Toya got his own group date this time in addition to his one-on-one lessons with Baru-chan. Lucky boy! If nothing else, he's expanding his circle of friends and giving himself a better chance of liking his brother-in-law.

The single dates for Ruiza and MiA both seemed like fun activities. And the group date bowling was cute. Yo-ka's a very sweet guy. He's going to have a hard time eliminating once it's down to the final 6, there's no doubt.

This was just the sort of cheerful chapter I needed today. Thank you!
Nov. 10th, 2016 06:56 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting impatiently for this chapter for days, now it's here I have to wait impatiently all over again! What can I say? I'm totally addicted to this, Subaru is just so sweet and full of love. I think that might be the attraction.
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Kai Fadeless - by ldybastet

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