'Family doesn't end in blood, but it doesn't start there either'
The metal clinking sounded louder to him than usual. Buckles were fastened, cords tightened, the silence amongst the handmaids was almost deafening. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. His father had only been dead three days and he was already being referred to as 'his majesty'. He'd known that it was going to be hard to take his father's place, but it was his duty as the heir, the Crown Prince of House Oikawa. He hadn't appreciated how heavy the fur-lined robes would feel. The crown would feel even heavier.
"Your father would be proud Tooru."
He nodded, throat feeling tight as if someone was squeezing and refusing to let him breathe. He took a ragged breath and forced a smile.
"Yeah, I know he would be."
The woman smiled though her eyes were sorrowful, taking a step back and looking him up and down. She adjusted the heavy cape sitting on his shoulders with dainty fingers, loosening the brass buckles slightly before stepping back again and nodding.
Tooru worried his bottom lip between his teeth for a split second. "What kind of king do you think I’ll be? Do you think I’ll be a good one?”
A hand came up to cup his cheek, he met her soft gaze with his hand and held back the sob that was threatening to break free. He couldn’t afford to be seen crying now, his kingdom was mourning enough as it was.
"I think you'll be a king who our people will put their trust in, who they'll follow wherever you take them. You're of House Oikawa, Tooru, our sigil is the phoenix remember?"
"It is said in the legends that a phoenix represents loyalty, kindness and justice," she smiled, rubbing her thumb over the rise of his cheekbone. “as the leader of this house, you will have to decide when it is the time for each. Do not fret over it though, let your instinct guide you. You’re a son of House Oikawa, Tooru, it’s in your blood to lead us to greatness.” She let her hand fall as the silence hung in the air.
He nodded, the tightness in his chest easing as he brought his hands together and he toyed with the ring that once adorned his father's hand; the thick golden band with an engraving of a fiery bird on it. His mother took his hand, bringing it to her lip and planting a chaste kiss on the ring.
"You'll do great things Tooru," She whispered. "I know you will."
A knock at the door refocused him. He gently pulled his hand away and sighed slightly. "Enter" He called without glancing over his shoulder. His mother smiled and nodded in parting before ushering the handmaids away and leaving him alone with his visitor. There was a long pause before footsteps began to approach him.
"So, big day today." The familiar voice further put him at ease. He glanced over his shoulder and smiled at the young man who stepped beside him. The kind smile of his childhood friend briefly made him forget the seriousness of the day's events.
"Yeah, not like I'm about to take over an entire kingdom before I'm twenty." He remarked, a genuine smile spreading across his face.
The other shook his head slightly, chainmail rattling as he paced the room. The daylight that streamed through the windows caught the iron chest piece, the red details glinting and making the house crest stand out against silver plating.
"You're going to be fine Tooru."
"You say that Hajime..." He sighed, turning to fully face the knight, a young face with kind eyes met his gaze. "but I don't even know where to start. I have bandits running rampant, the northern kingdom is creeping south with their border, there are murmurings of the empire expanding with no challengers...and then there's that rumour someone has taken up residence in the old eastern kingdom."
Iwaizumi nodded. "It's a lot, I admit. But if anyone is suited to tackle all of those things, it's you." He stepped forward, closing the gap between prince and knight as he took Tooru's hands in his. "And I'll be here every step of the way, every court appearance, every war council meeting, every night of debate. I'll be here."
Tooru smiled, squeezing the hands that held his, hands that were rough from combat yet soft whenever they touched him. It wasn't a foreign sensation to him.
"Here as my Royal Guard?"
Iwaizumi ducked his head as his cheeks took on a rosy glow. "I swore myself into your service when we were fifteen summers old. Both as your knight and your lover. But first and foremost I am your friend, and as your friend I will be here to guide you through whatever we face, to stand by you no matter the challenge...and if needs be, give your royal ass a kick if you're being unreasonable."
"You have such a way with words Iwa." Tooru dryly replied before a small laugh escaped him. "But thank you...I would be lost without you."
"Well, it's a good thing I'm not going anywhere then." Iwaizumi squeezed his hands. "They're going to be waiting for you downstairs."
Tooru nodded, letting Iwaizumi's hands slip away from his. He turned back to the mirrored glass he had been watching his reflection in; though the royal robes and freshly scrubbed skin could fool everyone into thinking he was well and truely born to rule, he couldn't help but feel it had all happened too quickly. His father's death had been untimely, no-one knew how he became so ill so quickly. When Tooru had been summoned to his bedside in the early hours of the morning, they knew a new era was dawning.
All they needed was a phoenix to drop out of the sky to properly signal it, however things weren’t exactly prosperous for the kingdom so that was very unlikely to happen.
"Eighteen summers old and about to be crowned king of the kingdom..." He murmured, reflection shifting as he reached out and placed a hand against the cool glass. "Promise me something Hajime?"
"Don't call me 'your majesty' in private." Tooru glanced over his shoulder and met Iwaizumi's pensive gaze. "You said you're my friend first and foremost, friends don't use official titles when they're alone."
The knight nodded, smiling as his hand went to his sword, he had a habit of holding onto the hilt when in thought. "Sure Tooru, I'll keep the titles for the court."
"Thank you Hajime." Tooru sighed in relief.
"Speaking of which, the coronation isn't going to complete itself..." Iwaizumi remarked with a smile. "Come on, the sooner it's done, the better."
Tooru pouted slightly, making Iwaizumi chuckle before he stepped closer and placed a gentle kiss onto soft lips. He felt the prince relax before pulling away.
"Okay," Tooru smiled, looking more sure of himself than before. "send word to the court. I'm ready."
"As you wish." Iwaizumi bowed before quickly pacing over to the door. "By the way," he paused with his hand on the handle "you look stunning today."