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 Nobody noticed him.


 Nobody cared about him.


 If anything, his existence was meaningless.

 Arms lowering down from the target board, Takumi only stared blankly. Sunset eyes hazed with sorrow and emptiness. Flickers of hatred and resentment stroke across the surface of his irises. Dry lips pursed and tightened for Gods know how long, he only let his mind wander to such malicious thoughts.


 That’s what he felt. That’s what he’d always be.

 Utterly, laughably, alone.

 He only watched as Queen Mikoto hugged the confused, startled woman.

 Others cried and cheered for the princess’s reunion. Some even clapped and bawled as if the moment felt like a dream come true.

 But it wasn’t a dream.

 To Takumi, it was a nightmare.

 He kept his eyes on her, as well as his distance.

 Ever since the fateful day of her presence, his life had been a tumbling mess. The mother he so dearly loved died before his very eyes. The woman who was supposedly her sister turned into a ruthless, maniacal dragon, rampaging everything in sight and almost killing the one woman whom he spat and belittled ever since they met. The city he was raised in crumbled into oblivion. The citizens he grew to know sprawled in a pool of flesh and blood.

 This is a nightmare, Takumi remembered thinking. This is a bloody, horrifying nightmare.

 Since that day, he waited for her betrayal. He waited for a traitor’s move to work her arms and legs. Even when he was reunited with his beloved little sister, even when he knew both Sakura and Aqua believed in her despite the horrors the Nohrian princess had put them through – had put him through – Takumi kept his distance, his caution.

 He waited for his heart to be broken again. He waited for his life to be disintegrated into pieces.

 But lastly, as time progressed by, much to his surprise, none of that ever happened.

“Can you teach me on how to use a bow?”

 And most of all, her desire to bond with him, to know him better was what caught him completely off guard.

 He remembered her smile. He remembered her eyes. Even the tone of her voice was soothing, if not bursting with grace and confidence that vividly reminded him of the departed mother.

 She was persistent, that he learned about her. She was quite eager to learn about the bow, to learn about him.

 For the first time in forever, Takumi almost laughed at the thought that someone – and her of all people – actually found him significant.

 The more he spent time with her, the more it felt…right.

 He learned many things about the princess. How stubborn she could be when things didn’t quite go her way. How loud she absolutely was when things definitely did. She had fangs; that Takumi realized with such surprise and shock when she broke the widest grin at her first successful shot. Her eyes were a glistening scarlet, colours burning like roaring fire that Takumi couldn’t help looking at them even if he didn’t want to.

 And her hair, so blue and soft; he wondered what it was like to trace those tresses with the slender shapes of his fingers.

 And at that moment, Takumi could feel his world stop for the first time.

 Many days, weeks, passed by since her first archery lesson. Since then, Takumi felt…oddly at peace. His heart still drummed a frantic beat, yet it soothed him as breath slipped in and out so evenly. His chest clenched and ached, yet he only let it be, for the painful feeling somewhat felt like warmth sipping into his cold, bloody soul.

 He remembered her smile. He remembered her laugh. Even when she wasn’t in the room, Takumi could still vividly see her. How she always tried to start a conversation about anything, everything with him. How she always had his back during the countless battles they had been going through.

 How she always made him laugh and smile, more so than he ever did before she came into his life.

 Kamui. Her name etched into his brain like a guide on how to breathe; never once did Takumi forget; never once did he try to even do.

 For the first time that night, Takumi actually had a good night’s sleep.

 I’m sick.

 He was sick and twisted and rotten and corrupted.

 Left and right he paced, steps heavy and rough as they scraped across the wooden floorboard. His heart raced all too quickly. His head ached all too painfully.

 How could he ever fall in love with his own sister? How sick could he be? It was bad enough that people didn’t give a rat’s ass about him. It was bad enough that he knew he would always live under his eldest siblings’ shadows. But to have fallen for someone who finally shined him with attention? To have fallen with someone who was supposed to be his precious, big sister?

 He was utterly, mortifyingly, disgustingly sick.

 “AAAARGH!” His scream shrilled the room, shaking the ceiling and walls as Takumi planted a good fist on the hard surface. Thankfully no one – especially his siblings – were nearby, enabling him to just wallow in disgust and self-hatred life had vomited at him.

 His thoughts went to the shine of her smile. I’m sick. His growls sizzled between clenched teeth at the reminder of other men pleasantly talking to her. I’m sick.

 He remembered how smooth her hair was when he patted her head. He remembered how lovely her laugh echoed when he complimented on her accomplishment.

 He loved her. He loved her, he loved her, he loved her, he loved her, he loved her.

 And there was absolutely, most definitely, nothing he could do about it-

 Thunk sllop…

 Reality came crashing down on him as Takumi gawked at the opened scroll that had fallen off the desk. It rolled and opened toward his feet, revealing words and letters that he so clearly recognized but had forgotten since his reunion with the others.

 It was Queen Mikoto’s letter.

 “I love you too, Takumi.”

 Who knew those three words could affect him in all the right, wondrous ways.

 Her voice was like a melody that soothed him to sleep. Her smile was like a medicine that healed his shattered heart. Even her presence alone could ease his nerves, making him feel calm, at peace, finally seeing the world in colour rather than dreary monochrome.

 Her hand fitted perfectly in his. Her lips cupped perfectly against his own.

 Every scent, every nook, every cranny of her was all Takumi could remember, was all he could remind himself of. She loved him for him. And no matter how hard he tried to impress her, she would always, always notice, always compliment him with hugs and kisses that more or less embarrassed him more than he had expected.

 And yet he loved every ticking moment of it.

 “Come on, Papa! We need to move faster or else Mama will finish all the cake coz we’re late!” Loudly Kanna exclaimed, tugging and pulling the newly crowned Vallite king's right hand with all that he got. And as if that didn’t satisfy him enough, the fact that the young boy had sprouted wings on his back and flapping like an excited child more or less proved his stubbornness which resembled so much like his mother.

 “Alright, alright!” Mouth gaping to a dumbfounded smile, Takumi tried to move forward while trying to retract his arm close to his chest. “And will you stop pushing me, Kisaragi?!” Glancing over his shoulder, he shot a harmless glare at a cheeky little grin that bared neither guilt nor fear.

 “But you’re moving so slowly, Dad!” Casually Kisaragi stated, head cocked high to clearly reveal his adorable smile. Steel, grey wings also protruded on the young sniper’s back, he lightly held Takumi’s shoulder and gave another playful shove. “Are you sure you don’t want us to fly you? It’s easier that way and plus you get to enjoy the cool night sky-”

 “No thanks, Son.” Quickly Takumi cut him off, right eye twitching at the last time his kids gave him a joyride through the skies; at that time, the prince was just thankful that Kamui was flying nearby when he slipped off Kisaragi’s back due to the sniper’s sheer excitement-

 He then heard a laugh he so missed and loved.

 “Honestly, you two.” His heart skipped a beat. His mouth cracked a quivered smile.

 Head turned forward, Takumi only burst a short laugh at the sight of his wife standing before them.

 “I know you two are excited about the coronation banquet.” Unaware of his awe over her, Kamui walked toward them before ruffling Kanna’s messy bush of a hair. “But it won’t start in less than an hour. So really, dragging your father like he’s a sack of bear meat won’t make any difference.”

 Her eyes then met him, diminishing his guard and removing any trace of a mask he once wore against her.

 “But I’m thankful either way that they brought you here.” Flashing a sweet smile that tugged every string of his heart, Kamui playfully took his left hand. “I kinda need all the physical reassurance I can get from you and the boys, really…” Voice peeped to a shy whisper at her wish, the newly-crown Vallite queen then bubbled a giggle at the flush of red in her husband’s cheeks.

 To see her smile, to hear her laugh, to have her in his life really, all of it was like a wonderful dream come true – a dream that Takumi would’ve never thought happened to him.

 “I can’t wait to eat with Papa and Mama and Big Brother Kisaragi!”

 He was noticed.

 “Yaaay family fun time forever and ever!”

 He was loved.

 “Yes, yes! By tomorrow we start a new day as a royal, happy family of Valla!”

 If anything, his existence meant so, so, so much more.

 With her hand being gently squeezed in return, Takumi smiled.