It had been two months since the race to the wishing star.
And the three Warners had an eventful, stress-filled two months to say the least.
Yakko was still trying to wrap his mind around them as he fiddled with Wakko’s royal vest, forcing it to straighten out and look decent. The boy had insisted on wearing his old neck sweater underneath the dark blue garment, but it was a hassle to make it fit. At first the middle child had tried to do everything by himself, successfully putting on his lilac mantel, which almost touched the floor, but struggled with his buttons. For good 20 minutes he had tried to pull them close and fit into the right holes, until Yakko had taken over the reins. After buttoning him up and pushing the excess cloth under the vest, trying to fold it somewhat neatly, he regarded his brother scrutinizingly, one hand raised to his mouth, tapping his chin.
Putting his hands to his brothers’ neck and fluffing up the collar for good measure, he petted his shoulder afterwards, nodding his approval.
“Now you look like a presentable prince.”
“Thanks!” Wakko grinned, looking down on himself as he pulled at the end of his sleeves, his tongue sticking out from the side of his mouth in glee, “You don’t look bad yourself, soon to be king!”
That made the oldest smile falter.
Before he could retort however, he heard a small squeal and both brothers turned their heads to their left, watching Dot twirl in place, both of them snickering at her antics.
“How do I look?”
She stopped momentarily, as she lifted the ends of her pink frock and did a little curtsy, her face shining bright as the two thought of their answers. Just like Wakko she had insisted on keeping one garment, which was her little, beaten down flower crunchy, sitting neatly on top of her head. The usual skirt however she had exchanged for a puffy dress and around her shoulders she wore the exact same mantel as Wakko. The cloth however, for she was a teeny bit smaller than her brother, was actually touching the floor this time.
Another twirl and Yakko broke into a grin, as he lifted a thumbs up.
“You look like the absolutely cutest princess to ever walk these castle halls.”
“Naturally!” she grinned, her tail visibly wagging as she grabbed her cape and showed it off, “Look at it! Every single color matches perfectly together! Even the white trim adds to the charm!”
Both boys rolled their eyes good naturedly, as she danced across the room and around the two, giggling to herself all the while.
“This is so exciting!”, she hollered, “We’ve been waiting for your crowning ceremony for weeks!”
“Speak for yourself…”
Dot didn’t hear his remark at all, as she continued to move around, inspecting every inch of their dressing room, as if it could disappear any moment, trying to burn the emblems and carvings into her mind. Tiny hands flew over dark wood, satin cloths and golden metal, only stopping when she had to jump to the next object of interest.
Yakko watched her with mild amusement, the sudden affectionate pang of witnessing her run, breathe freely, not sick in bed and dying was a welcoming change from the constant anxiety that was swirling in his stomach.
It had taken Dot the whole first month to fully recover after her operation, whatever she had been fighting with trying to drag her down with it. The day their little sister was able to get out of bed and without any pain in her chest whatsoever had all of them grabbing each other by the hands and dance across the tiny hospital in pure happiness.
Now she was fully mobile, could run and play and talk without a single cough leaving her lips.
The sickness had taken its toll. She got out of breath faster than them, every time she wanted to race her huffs coming short and shallow. They still had to see how she would fair when the weather was getting warmer, but so far the cold made her chest sting, her tiny lungs working on overdrive, her body completely drained every night he put her to bed.
But right now, she was relishing every little second, and he couldn’t be more grateful, the steadily growing headache only mildly irritating.
Closing his eyes and rubbing the bridge of his nose he didn’t notice Wakko creeping closer to her until he lifted his head up again, Yakko covering his mouth immediately to muffle his upcoming giggle.
Knowing exactly what he was about to do he kept quiet for his brothers sake, while Dot on the other hand was pointing out different clothes in the room she deemed interesting. Still too transfixed, she failed to take note of either of them, ready to open her mouth again to make a comment about the funny looking jacket hanging over a chair, only to be suddenly attacked by it.
Letting out a loud yelp, she jumped away from the wildly moving arms, before Wakko made himself known, peeking out from behind the cloth and then landing beside her with a mighty “Boo!”.
As soon as he tried to make a grab for her, she shrieked and ran away, screaming at him to not mess up her fur which she had just combed, trying to hide her laughter under a mask of fake annoyance. Wakko ignored her threat like he always did and instead gave chase, soon enough the two of them running circles around Yakko, who was laughing now outright, not bothering to make them stop at all.
Then Dot staggered for a moment and Wakko slowed, only to run off again when she tried to grab his hat, twisting himself around so he could duck and roll out of her reach.
It had never been hard to notice, but Wakko had gotten even more careful when he played with her, acting as if he was running on fumes whenever Dot was starting to lag behind. Back then the two of them had always taken the opportunity to play together when Dot was feeling alright enough to leave her room. Those moments had been scarce, almost nonexistent with every added year up to the point where Wakko had gone off in search for money.
So now, whenever the chance presented itself, Yakko could see them running off somewhere to explore, climbing trees, playing hide and seek and when they were completely tuckered out, they went to card games or coloring or any activity they could do together.
They had missed each other, and the bittersweet taste in his mouth made him shake his pounding head, the bright smile slowly turning into a bothered one.
However even that smile left him as soon as it came, for only a second after he went to scowling; in his try to follow their movements and watch them chase each other, his own, double his height, oversized mantle got tangled in between his feet. Stuck between wiggling his way free and just throwing the whole thing from his shoulders and to the floor, Wakko jumped from the little table he had been seated at to escape Dots wrath and helped his brother to get out of the offending piece. Tugging at it with all his might, the littler Warner brother managed to pull the mantle behind Yakko, before he set it carefully on the floor, brushing the sweat from his brow.
“You really have to wear that thing?”, he asked curiously with a hint of sympathy, “It’s way heavier than ours.”
“Sure do, brother-sib, or I would have thrown it in the next fire pit already”, Yakko grumbled, shacking his shoulders in a try to lighten the load and get some breathing room.
He was already sweating in the get up he was forced into. His white shirt was itchy, and the vest was tight around his rips. The only thing he was grateful for was for the fact that they let him keep his pants, with a new belt no less, for he would have started a riot had they taken it from him.
“You have to look kingly when they crown you king, Yakko!” Dot interrupted light heartedly, gasping a bit as she leaned her hands on her knees, “I think you look great.”
The reassurance was nice, but instead Yakko let out a heavy sigh, as he put a hand to his forehead and rubbed it, the tension that had been building getting worse by the minute.
He was used to headaches; they came with the worries of a big brother who had a family to take care of. Worrying all the time about his siblings, if they slept enough, if he was teaching them right, if they were warm and comfortable and were having fun beside the fact that they were church mouse poor. Worrying about them freezing to death, starving, getting mauled by wolves or other.
No. Headaches like these? Nothing he wasn’t used to.
What he had to deal with however was the fact that he was going to be king.
King of a whole country with thousands of people.
His hands moved down his face as he pulled his cheeks with them, letting his skin snap into place when his neck lifted his head upwards. For a moment he just stared at the ceiling, noticing how high it was and how insignificant small he was and before he knew it, he covered his eyes and let himself get seated on the floor in the most dignified way possible.
Landing with a thud on his butt as he curled his tail around his legs.
“Thanks, Dot. At least I look the part.”
Both his siblings had stood there with interest at his theatrics, only to flinch when Yakko fell and immediately rushing to sit beside him. Dot moved to his right on her knees, while Wakko sat cross legged to his left, their heads tilted in a try to see his face from under his hands.
“You don’t only look like a king, you are gonna be”, explained Wakko carefully, “That’s why they are gonna crown you.”
“And it’s going to be a big event!” Dot added happily, “They have been preparing the moment they found out we’re the heirs! Everybody that can come is going to come and see you.”
“And when you become king, the whole country is gonna look up to you from that point on. Not only Acme Falls, but the whole of Warnerstock is gonna ask you for advice and you can talk your mouth off.”
“You’re going to be the most important person around!”
“Then why aren’t you happy?”
At that, Yakko lifted his head slowly and stared forward, not ready look at either of them. Wakko’s question was an easy one, but the answer lodged itself in Yakko’s throat and he had to try his bargain bin best to not run off and find the next trash can to lose his breakfast as well as lunch into. Sweat was slowly running down his back and his hands shook slightly when he looked down at them, his breath thicker than he liked it to be.
Opening his mouth, he tried to voice his reasoning-
Only for Brain to let himself in, nodding at the Warners in greeting, while the three of them copied his movement. Trying not to crumble apart in front of his siblings and the royal advisor, Yakko took instead a deep breath from his open mouth, one hand steadying him on the ground as he got up. Both of them followed his example and he tugged at the mantle again, closing his eyes as the white mouse peeped up.
“The ceremony will start any minute. Do you need anything, your highness?”
“No, thank you. We’ll be with you shortly”, Yakko responded pressed, his teeth clenching at the title, “Just… give us another 10 minutes.”
With that the advisor left swiftly, probably to inform the ever-growing crowd in front of the castle, the three of them staring at the closed door silently.
“I’m scared to become a king.”
The two heads moved up so fast, that Yakko was afraid they’d snap their necks, their wide eyes locking onto his as if he had grown a second head.
“Why would you be scared of being king?!” Dot sounded absolutely baffled. “King! You can do whatever you want when you are the king!”
Wakko nodded rapidly, while she continued.
“Imagine! You as king… We will never have to be hungry again. Or freeze in the water tower or have to look for money or sleep on hay! You never have to hunt again and try to catch animals in the morning. Wakko can go play an actual instrument now, we can get him one!”
Another rapid nod.
“There will be people doing whatever we tell them to and we’ll never have to worry about anything! Why would anybody not want to be king?”
“Because I might turn out to be a bad king just like I turned out to be a bad big brother.”
At that the room stilled and Dot’s rambling ceased, her hands, that had moved widely around her to explain her points resting beside her. Looking up she saw Yakko the most tired he had ever looked. More tired than when he had to go find food, more tired than when he put her to bed and was ready to throw himself into his own covers only to force himself to tell her a story or check her health. And Wakko was ready to agree with her; he looked exhausted, rivaling the day where he had put his hands to Dots throat every five minutes to see if she was still breathing.
A shudder went down his spine as he tensely grabbed Yakko’s arm.
“You’re not a bad big brother.”
Dot took a step forward then, holding his other arm.
“No”, she repeated firmly, “You always took care of us and we turned out fine.”
At that the oldest shrugged them off, his arms folding over his chest as he turned away. Neither knew what to do as Yakko stared out the window, overseeing parts of the country, soon to be his country, his feet dragging him across the room, the mantel tugging at his scrawny shoulders.
“We had more luck than brains. I had more luck than brains”, Yakko softly muttered, “If it hadn’t been for Wakko and the wishing star, we wouldn’t be standing here.”
“Well… maybe not, but…”
Dot was interrupted, when Yakko continued.
“We would still be at the water tower; we would still be scavenging for food and try to survive. We would still be without money or warmth and you would have gotten worse, Angelina.”
At her real name she gave Wakko a worried glance, while he mirrored her look, his hands playing with each other, tugging the seam of his tattered pullover in and out, again and again, to keep them occupied. Yakko there while started to walk around in circles, only the thick purple blanket around his neck keeping him from running smack into a wall.
“And the winter would have gotten colder, the coughing would have gotten worse… how did I let it get so bad in the first place? The orphanage closed, and we stayed because I thought it would be smart to wait out on finding a better place to live, so you’d get better, but it never did, and it would never have. We would have kept living on the streets and one day, we would have… I would have…”
He pressed his hands to his eyes again, colors starting to swirl in the black void, his shoulders shacking.
“God, I was sure I was gonna bury you this spring…”
This time it was Wakko who glanced at Dot, who in the meantime was staring at the floor blankly.
“And now? I was lucky all this time, I was lucky enough to have a brother who wished on a star in the exact right moment. I was lucky enough to have a sister hold on this long with no end in sight. I couldn’t even keep you two safe; I let my little sister become sick and send Wakko off to god knows where to earn money… with what exactly? I couldn’t even give him anything to make sure he would be alright, not even paper for letters. What was he armed with? With good faith? Hoping he wouldn’t get killed out there by strangers? And before all that, I had no clue what I was doing, I still don’t. I’m making this stuff up as I go; every time there is an obstacle, I wing it and hope we’re getting out of it alive. And we almost didn’t, I don’t know what looked over us in those moments, but we all could be dead right now. We could have been shot by those knights, or buried under that avalanche, or fallen off that bridge, or dashed across the rocks at that waterfall…”
His mind wandered faster, but his feet stood still, as another realization hit him over the head.
“And the stunt you pulled… Angelina, do you really think I can cry on command?” He waited on a response, but when he heard none, he continued. “I really thought you died in my arms, that was not me acting, you know I wouldn’t be able to act like that. I was terrified for you and I’m sure Wakko didn’t have a single clue either.”
He didn’t dare look at them, while his siblings had the opposite problem, their eyes glued to his frame, silently whimpering to themselves. Dot wringed her hands before she settled on hugging herself while Wakko nodded his head silently to himself, agreeing with Yakko, even if no one took notice of it.
“And when I thought it couldn’t get worse, the universe decided to prove me wrong. You were already dead, at least in my mind, what could be worse than you being dead, how could the cosmos make this any worse? Oh, easily! I had to watch Wakko run for his life towards the only possible thing that could save us, while I sat there, feeling sorry for myself. He almost got hit by a cannon ball a second time, while I watched like an idiot, holding a corpse instead of helping. I thought for 15 rapid heartbeats I lost both of you guys, I counted them, I thought I failed you two, that-“
Another breath, another chocked sentence, as Yakko took another step in his repeating walking circle.
“How am I going to lead a kingdom, thousands of people , when I can’t even take care of the two I care about most?”
Now he was really ready to throw up; his intestines felt like they were burning him from the inside out and the mantel was chocking him to death. Everything felt like too much, thoughts of what ifs and what am I going to do’s rampaged in his mind, making him almost trip over himself, wondering if he should just have let himself land flat on his nose. He was ready to lay down, he would have already thrown himself on the ground if his siblings weren’t right there and witnessing him breaking down.
He couldn’t believe he was going to be king.
The people didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, they were going to crown a 14-year-old who had been a street kid for more than two thirds of his life. They had weeks to realize that they were going to crown a fraud of a leader, who couldn’t even make sure there was enough food on the table.
He was still walking, choosing another road of self-loathing to meander through, before he noticed the tug at his belt.
Stopping in his tracks, he glanced down warily, Wakko carefully studying him back, his tongue firmly placed inside his mouth. When the staring became a contest, neither blinked nor said a word, trying to guess when the other would lose, the game as old as they knew each other. When Wakko blinked first, like he always did, he decided to offer a silent hug, his arms spread out wide and tilting his head hopefully.
Pretty much falling against him, Yakko hugged fiercely back, burying his face into Wakko's hat.
Wakko had never been one for words, the rapid waterfall that poured out of his brothers mouth still rushing through his brain, but he could feel what Yakko felt through them. He knew what it felt like to feel completely helpless and at a loss.
Every day since the day Dot had gotten sick, he had watched his brother take care of her, watching from the side lines. He helped whenever he found something to help with, but it never felt like enough. Sitting in the snow with his brother, freezing his hands off while holding whatever rope to whatever trap they had built for hours wasn’t enough. Going around town and picking up flyers so Dot could color them wasn’t enough. Turning his broken bed into a harp to play music in the evening for them to fall asleep to wasn’t enough. He had never felt like it was enough, no matter how much his siblings had reassured him. It didn’t feel like he was making a dent anywhere, until the idea of making money wormed into his head.
He had wanted to find work, to feel like he was doing something, anything, to help the three of them.
And then he had been gone from home so long, a whole, stupid year, hoping every single day he could go back, find his brother waiting with Dot, who was for sure worse but not entirely gone. And he did, he made it back in one piece, only to have all the hard-earned money be taken away from him. It had been a slap in the face, and if it hadn’t been for the wishing star, he really wouldn’t know where they would be right now.
They were here and all the what ifs were just that, things that could have happened but didn’t, which didn’t mean that they couldn’t have very well been reality.
He could understand how Yakko felt.
He glanced back at his sister, reassuring himself again that she was actually standing there, before nodding his head to beckon her closer. He hoped it would make Yakko feel better if both his siblings were steadying him.
She on the other hand moved forward unsure, not wanting to make her brother more upset by reminding him she was still here, before she hugged Yakko slowly from the other side.
They stood like this for a long time, Yakko leaning against Wakko with his face hidden, while Dot was hugging his middle, Wakko’s hand on her arm and curled around Yakko’s back, rubbing his hand up and down.
A shuddering breath later and Yakko leaned back to stand to his full height, gathering his thoughts.
“Sorry. I was just- “
The two youngest looked at each other, grinning.
“Yeah, yakking… I know it’s-”
He looked down to see Dot offer her hand with a small smile plastered on her face, but failed to take it, his mind still racing with millions of thoughts. Realizing he wouldn’t take initiative, she grabbed his hand herself and pulled him across the room in front of the door, brushing off his clothes from nonexistent dust in the same breath.
“You worry too much. You’re going to be a great king. You are the smartest person I know.”
Dot paused, before she looked over her shoulder.
“No offense, Wakko.”
“And because you are the smartest, you always figured out what to do”, she continued, “Maybe you didn’t know for sure, and you winged a lot of it, but you still always tried your best. You spend days searching for shelter and looked for dry wood to burn and even built us things and fixed our clothes. And when we had stuff to trade, you traded them for things we could play with. The day you brought us crayons? One of the best days of my life.”
“Not that there are many…”
“Listen.” Dot moved in front of his face, glaring at him. “It wasn’t your fault the orphanage closed, or that I got sick. If anything, it’s King Salazar who should be sorry, he was the one who destroyed our home in the first place! He was the one to tax everything to the ground, who back then put the castle ablaze and shipped us as toddlers off and took your throne! Because it is yours, Yakko! You belong on it!”
Yakko didn’t hesitate, when he shot back: “By blood, sure! But qualification wise I am severely lacking!”
“Maybe! No king is perfect!” she countered. “Look at what just happened, you outtalked even yourself, never mind anybody who wants to cross you!”
“What if my tongue fails me one day?”
Dot tried to come up with something, but the pause gave Yakko enough time to string together another rapid train of thought.
“How am I going to manage a kingdom when all I have is my voice? Sweet nothings I’m babbling out with nothing behind it? It’s easy to let out hot air and snarky remarks, but they want me to lead them. They want me to make choices and handle situations I have no clue about how to even start handling. I couldn’t even handle us.”
“So? Maybe you’re going to make mistakes. And maybe you won’t know what to do and you will feel overwhelmed and lost. There will be people you can’t help and situations you’re going to mess up.” Dot closed her eyes. “I know it’s scary when you don’t know what happens tomorrow.”
She knew too well; she understood what it felt like to dread the next day every single day.
Waking up to two brothers watching over her, making sure she survived the night, was maddening. She could only sit in her bed then, doing absolutely nothing productive, withering away in boredom when the two went out to provide for them. She hated being useless; lying in bed and drawing pictures to decorate their rotting home wasn’t good enough. Walking the few steps outside to get wood herself so her brothers would come home to a fire in the furnace wasn’t enough. Waking up the next day breathing so her brothers wouldn’t have to worry was not good enough, not even the slightest bit. Some days she just wanted to get everything over with, only to remind herself that she couldn’t give up when the two most important people in the world counted on her.
She often daydreamed what it would be like to just be okay, to do something, anything to help the three of them, too.
There were days where she pressured herself to get up, to move, expecting the fresh air to do her good, if she saw sunlight that it would make her better. Every day it was a struggle to keep the façade up, to lie and say that she felt fine, that it was alright, that she could handle it. And sometimes it was easier, some days it was actually easier, only for the next few to feel impossible to trudge through. And it never felt like enough, when she had a good day, it just meant her brothers didn’t have to hold her arm when they were walking through the town.
Both of them, watching her every move, willing her to keep going, their expectations on top of her own and weighting her down.
She could understand how Yakko felt.
“There will be people looking at you to make the right choices, you can’t change that. And you will never know if you made the best choice, or if it was even a half decent one. And that’s alright.”
“Why?” It came a bit chocked up, Yakko willing his throat to work and his nose to stay dry. “Why do you think I can handle anything this big on my own?”
“Because we’re always gonna have your back and never ever give up hope!”
Wakko’s exclamation made Yakko blink.
The middle child however had his tongue stuck out once more, explaining with his smile wide: “Sure, you are gonna be the big king who everybody wants to talk to, ‘cause you’re the oldest. But we are still prince Wakko and princess Dot! We are just as important to Warnerstock and the decisions that are made. And we’ll help you out.”
“Like we always do”, Dot reaffirmed, “It’s true, you… you are always the one to take the most care of us. And now you have to do it with even more people watching and counting on you. And you are the one who has to worry all the time about everything, it’s all true. But we worry about you and help, too, don’t we?”
“We will always have your back, especially when you need us most, just like we have you backing us up all the time.”
Yakko, not for the first time in his life, but still, was absolutely speechless.
Realizing that they were completely honest, wanting to stem the burden with him earnestly, it made shame crawl up his spine. He should have known they wouldn’t just stop being by his side, just because he was moving up the social ranks, just because they were comfortable now and didn't need to rely on each other to survive. He should have known they would want to contribute, like they always had in their own ways.
Neither of the three had ever given up on the other two or lost hope, and it seemed they weren’t going to start now.
And since words seemed to fail him completely, he leaned down and pulled the two of them into another hug, hefting them up to his height as he squeezed the life out of them. Neither seemed to care though as they looped their arms around his neck and reciprocated it with vigor, laughing out loud when he started to twirl them around. Then the inevitable happened and, once again, he toppled over his mantle and they all came crashing down, both kids on top of Yakko, giggling madly while he was trying to get his breath back.
“Thank you”, he finally huffed out, as they vamoosed off his chest, “I know I can count on you two, I always have. It’s just… going to be a lot more complicated now.”
“Is it more complicated than math even?”
“Way more complicated, brother of mine”, Yakko chuckled, his face bright, “Politics and accounting is math mixed with a lot of big, adult words.”
That only made the younger cringe, before he puffed out his chest.
“I’ll still help you.”
Yakko couldn’t help but ruffle his head, the hat moving around wildly, before it sat askew, the middle child frowning. With a muffled groan Wakko tried to right it, the fur from underneath now sticking out at all possible angles, while Dot tried to help get it back in place.
The moment the hat was settled, Brain decided to walk in once more.
“It’s time. The crowd is restless.”
With a final look he patiently waited by the door, this time unwilling to go back out there without them in tow and Yakko nodded in understanding. With a grateful grin he glanced down at his siblings, before he bend down and gave each of them a quick nose nuzzle, which made both of them shriek in delight.
“Alright you guys. Be good, yeah? Just follow my lead.”
With that they stood by his side as they, like practiced, royally walked through the room. Dot couldn’t help herself however as she took Yakko’s hand in hers, squeezing it, while Wakko held on to his pants, belt firmly enclosed in his fist. The oldest smirked a bit but let them be as they stepped out of the door.
Brain lead them down the hallways towards the throne room, Yakko knowing exactly how long it would take to get there and which turns they were going to make, since he had spent the last month mainly searching for his siblings when they had run off to find another ‘secret room’ which normally translated to ‘room that no one uses since the castle is gigantic and who needs that many anyway? So now it our hiding spot for ‘put activity here’’.
To say the least, he knew the whole place like the back of his glove.
Arriving at their destination, Yakko lifted his ears, noticing the murmurs of people talking on the other side, his heart lurching to his throat a bit as he wondered how many Brain had managed to gather in there. He didn’t have time to ask however, when the door was suddenly being parted and he could see for himself.
The sight almost knocked the Warners over.
Somehow the tiny mouse had managed to fit countless people neatly in rows into the room, all of them standing to give as much room as humanly possible. Dot was on her tippy toes and tried to guess how many heads there were, while Wakko took a more direct approach and started counting the rows by pointing at the people with his finger, whispering under his breath, only to lose track and start anew every few seconds, Yakko letting out an unbelieving snort.
Brain had only to cough into his fist once, before Yakko was back on track, making his way towards the other end of the throne room. The moment the door had been opened, everybody had fallen deathly silent, as heads turned and watched him with faces of either awe, uncertainty or respect. None of them reassured him, and it seemed his siblings felt the same way as they stepped closer to him, almost glued to his sides.
To think they were born royalty only now to act like cornered sheep.
Yakko was entirely honest when he said he couldn’t remember a lick of his early prince hood. He had known he had parents that loved him and that they had taken immensely well care of him and his siblings. He remembers his father teaching him to read and his mother singing songs with him, he remembers being warm and fed and loved, up until a fire orphaned the three of them and they had been brought to Acme Falls.
Funnily enough he could recite Dots name fully like it was no one’s business, but he couldn’t even remember a hint of their last name. It had been a joke, when the people had asked him about it. His younger self thought it would be nice to have their name based on the country they were living in. He didn’t think that it was actually going to matter, that his subconscious had literally given him a last name that fits like a fist to the eye. He never dreamed of being of royal heritage, never mind being one of the three children of the late king and queen.
When asked to take their actual last name, all of them had disagreed, more comfortable with what Yakko had come up with. Through a lot of discussions, the Warners had pulled through with their wish, compromising to use their given last name only in documents while they kept introducing themselves as the Warner brothers and their sister Dot. They couldn’t take that away from them.
Coming back to the present, both his siblings removed themselves from him, not daring to make a single noise, knowing their place was at the foot of the five step stairs. He desperately wanted to walk up with them, since the throne was hovering above him, mocking him, forcing him to entertain the thought of having to pull himself up to sit on it one day. Instead a hush fell over the crowd as he slowly moved, his hands in fists while he made the mental decision to never, ever, let himself be talked into a spectacle like this again.
He couldn’t even make fun of the situation, this was regal and stuffy and professional business, which he couldn’t mess up.
Then he felt his siblings take the mantel into their hands, so he had an easier time climbing up and he let out a huff of fondness.
Holding his head up high, he finally made it in front of the mighty chair, the people behind him waiting, waiting for him, waiting on the part they all had hoped on for weeks, for years now. He swallowed hard, the air he pulled in falling like a rock to the bottom of his stomach and making it gurgle as Brain, who had been following all this time, jumped up the last step as well, staring at the oldest Warner.
Helping him onto his proper place, Yakko picked Brain up and navigated him onto the table they had specifically set up for him, before he nodded at the mouse.
Following the instructions, the advisor had drilled into him weeks ago, he kneeled with one wobbly leg down, his opposite arm resting on it, as he bowed his head.
Through the whole speech, Yakko was kneeling silently there, mouthing the words in tandem, counting down the seconds to the inevitable. He had been doing this countless times now, every time he had to listen to Brain burning another piece of spoken text into his mind until he could recite it by heart himself. But only today when he woke up it really dawned on him that this was actually happening, that the speech he had been parroting was going to make his crowning official. The fact that no one was even making a single peep behind him, all listening intently to Brain as he told the story of their kingdom, was bordering on creepy.
Yakko had chewed through it all already, it was nothing new. The only thing new was the fact that his siblings were now also listening to Brain talk, for them the first time, and he could hear them getting restless, stepping from one foot to the other.
His one ear lifted slightly, and he moved his head carefully to the side until he caught Wakko’s eyes.
The middle child shrugged helplessly as he tried to keep himself still, but Yakko shook his head very softly, the hand resting beside him motioning for Wakko to sit down if he wanted to. The other only blinked slightly, before he shook his head defiantly, seemingly too proud to sit down when his brother was being crowned. However, then Wakko peeked at Dot opposite him, who was watching them both curiously, and he reassured her with a handwave himself that she could rest instead. Glancing back and forth between them, she nodded gratefully and then kneeled slowly down until she was comfortably seated, letting out a breath of relief.
Wakko there while continued standing, his chest out and hands on his back, and Yakko wanted to laugh at his brother, a smile tugging at his lips, before he was trying to find whatever line Brain was on at the moment.
His tail started to move back and forth behind him in agitated nervousness as he realized that they were getting to a close and he gritted his teeth, trying to keep it still, as Pinky arrived with a lilac pillow from the side.
The golden crown nestled on it was twinkling from the orange-golden sunlight of dusk that was pouring in from the windows and made his eyes hurt, closing them for the time being. The poor mouse carried the fancy hat twice his size, pretty much while running towards Brain, climbing up the legs of the table (with tiny little steps engraved) before settling it down softly with a small “Narf” as soon as he made it.
Brain nodded at him, almost relieved, since he didn’t trip and/or let the crown fall in his attempt to help. With tiny paws he took the symbol of power and Yakko felt his fur stand as he felt the heavy metal settle on his head, trying to steel his face to stay neutral.
When the full weight of it rested on his brow, he got himself back on his feet, only for the crown to tilt to one side and blocking his one eye. With a huff he lifted his hand and tried to right it by poking it the opposite way, only for it to tip over and mirror the same image as before.
“You will grow into it, zoink!” Pinky whispered reassuringly from the pillow he had nestled himself in, Yakko offering him a small smile.
Taking a step forward, the advisor got onto Yakko’s shoulder without hesitation, like they had planned, but this time was helping to keep the crown in place. While he lifted one arm to keep the crown where it should be, the boy turned towards his subjects, the people quiet and still and ignoring the small hiccup that had occurred.
Suddenly Brain rose his voice, and everybody widened their eyes.
“LONG LIVE THE KING! YAKKO ALVIN WARNER!”
Not a second after a booming cheer echoed through the halls that almost left him deaf, the straight walls of people suddenly combusting into a colorful mess of citizens running into each other, shaking each other’s hands, hugging, applauding and throwing their hands up in the air. His name was echoed through the whole castle, coming from all sides again and again until it didn’t sound like a name anymore. The commotion left the ground shaking and Yakko could only watch idly as every single person in the room ran around in circles, his mind still trying to process what had happened. He could feel his siblings coming closer and each taking his hands, but he felt numb as the weight of the world seemed to crash down on him.
But watching the people cheer and laugh and be happy for him, it dissolved the knot in his throat and he squeezed his siblings’ hands back. Brain was watching him from the side, before he went to his knees and petted Yakko’s shoulder, the boy getting the clue and holding his hand out for him to step on. Then he carefully gave him over to Wakko, while Dot had picked up Pinky, laughing as he was hanging on to one of her fingers and swinging back and forth.
He knew he had to address the room to continue the ceremony, but they all were still rushing around in ecstasy, too loud even for his motor mouth to be heard over. Knowing he had no choice if he wanted to get this over with, he lifted his hand and put his fingers to his mouth, a shrill whistle heard in every corner of the room belting from his direction. Every single head turned to him and he felt another chill run down his spine, nodding to himself in a try to hide it.
“Thank you”,he addressed the room politely, his hands moving behind his back, “I just need to get something off my chest before we can celebrate outside.”
A few hollers and cheers rose, and he held his hand up to stop them, the sudden power of silencing a room with a hand wave making him grimace uncomfortably.
“This will be short, it needs to be said however; I am… not very well taught in the royal etiquette, so to speak.” He bowed slightly. “As I am not quite of age, yet, I have much to learn, which I will, and I will have to rely on people I can trust, which I have and do, to lead you. Warnerstock needs a king and I hope I will do a decent job of that.”
“You’re better than Salad Bar, already!” Dot butted in, which made the room explode in laughter and clap their hands.
Yakko petted her head with a chuckle.
“Still…I can always be better.”
Again, a round of applause and Yakko had pretty much enough of the display as Brain took over the wheel and announced the festivities as officially open. The crowd was being led out by the knights that had stayed hidden in between the pillars of the room as the Warners watched from their elevated point of view. Brain and Pinky excused themselves right after, as they ran after the crowd; if to make sure everything stayed orderly or to go after their own plans, nobody knew.
When the last of them left, Yakko sat himself down on the steps, the crown tilting precariously to the side, as he let out a big breath.
“So… guess I’m king now.”
Wakko scratched his cheek. “Does it feel any different?”
“Ehhhhhhhhhhh, much different from being an orphan? Yes. From being a prince for like 2 months? Not really, not yet anyway.”
Dot shrugged, before she moved forward and pulled at Yakko’s shoulders, making him turn to her with a brow risen. When she had him where she wanted, she took the button of the mantel and pretty much ripped it open, the heavy blanket falling from his frame. Afterwards she moved her arms to take care of the crown, before she hesitated, her hands going to her chest instead.
“Do you have to wear it now all the time?”
Yakko grimaced as he looked up at the offending piece of metal, letting her question tumble through his brain, before he shook his head and took it off himself, settling it on his lap. Looking at it, it was somewhat nice, but heavy and warm and just too big for him to handle right now. So, he placed it back on the pillow, stretching himself and placing it with small throw, so he wouldn’t need to stand up.
“If I can help it, no. I’m sure people will understand that it’s just too uncomfortable, they all saw it doesn’t fit.”
“Yet!”, Wakko interjected proudly, “One day it will!”
Once again, Yakko had nothing to say to that and could only laugh at his siblings utter and upmost faith in him. That earned the middle Warner another forceful head rub before he stood and realized how good it felt to not carry a whatever ton amount of clothing behind him across the floor. Shacking himself like a wet dog would, he gripped his pants and pulled them up, ready to get out and leave the whole thing behind him, ready to cause the slightest amount of mayhem if a chance presented itself.
Holding his arms out and putting his hands on the other twos back, he shoved them softly forward, smiling down at them.
Then he felt both of them stretch their arms and hold on to his back, grinning up at him.
“It won’t matter if I can carry the crown by myself one day, as long as you two are here, we’ll carry it together.”
“You want some cheese with that ham?”
Yakko’s response was to blow a raspberry at Dot, before the three of them dissolved into a tackle fight to the door, wrestling each other to find out who’d be first to greet the people outside, ready to throw all royalty aside for one evening.
It’s been an eventful, stress-filled two months.
But from now on it would get easier.