Chapter Thirty: A happily ever after?
Kiku couldn't understand how one thing could lead to another thing so quickly. It went from the accident, to the finding of Hayate's true identity, and finally to a shocking declaration of rivalry from Hayate himself?! She was in complete astonishment from his sudden confidence as well. Kiku, Shiro, and the newfound prince, were quietly staring at one another in the silence of the hospital room when Takumi suddenly barged in.
"So! Let's get you guys out of here!" he laughed, not comprehending the scene that he had interrupted. "Why are you two still in your hospital gowns?" he asked with a soft chuckle, pointing at Kiku and Shiro who paid absolutely no attention to him. Takumi finally noticed Kiku's wide blue eyes staring at Hayate, and Shiro's glaring green eyes burning with rage at his cousin. Takumi looked at this person now who continued to smirk with a smile of determination to win over a heart that had already been captured.
"Looking good Hayate," Takumi slapped Hayate's back as Hayate staggered a bit.
"T-thanks..." Hayate nodded, retrieving a bit of his shyness. "Well, I'll be going now. Keep in mind what I said," he told Kiku and glanced at Shiro.
Hayate left the room, leaving the two with another smiling prince; Takumi.
"Hayate..." Kiku whispered to herself. "H-he's joking right?"
Without a word, Shiro turned around and picked up a pair of jeans that had been sitting on his bed. Slipping his jeans on from underneath his hospital gown, he tore off the gown with so much force that Kiku and Takumi knew that he was angry. As Shiro tossed on a shirt, Takumi questioned Kiku.
"What? Did Hayate confess to you or something?" Takumi chuckled as he faced Kiku.
Shiro turned back around and glared at his best friend.
"He did?! Oh wow. I knew he liked you!" Takumi exclaimed to Kiku as he inched away from the enraged crown prince.
"What do you mean, you knew?" Shiro scowled.
"It's pretty obvious Shiro... You saw them on the train. Kiku was really cute that day, you have to admit—"
"What do you mean, was?" Kiku put her hands to her hips, with a questioning stare.
"Ha-ha! Well, that was when I was a single man, so of course I'd use past tense," he winked.
"Was single? You don't have a—" Shiro began to say, but as he did, a blonde-haired beauty poked her head through the hospital door.
"I'd like to introduce you both to my angelic girlfriend, Misaki," he gestured for Misaki to enter. "You both met her before," Takumi winked at Kiku again as Kiku smiled with joy at the light blue-eyed girl who was approaching now.
"Yumi?" Misaki questioned with her soft, gentle tone as she stood before Kiku.
"Misaki!" The acquainted girls hugged.
"Yumi?" Shiro questioned with his eye brow raised as he glanced at his girlfriend whose name was clearly 'Kiku'. Or at least that's what he had been calling her half of the time... Shiro shrugged. 'I'd rather not find out...' he told himself.
"How did this happen? You and Takumi? Takumi and Misaki?!" Kiku cheered as she avoided explaining herself.
"Well, after you had told me that you thought I would be better off with Prince Takumi, I knew right away who my true heart belonged to. I met with him again, and that was that..." she explained as she simply blushed.
Kiku nodded. "Just like that, huh?" 'They're so simple...' Shiro and Kiku thought.
Takumi and Misaki nodded as they smiled blissfully at each other.
With the introduction of Takumi's official girlfriend, Shiro and Kiku had almost completely forgotten about Hayate's confession. When they met eyes with Hayate back at the palace, they reminded themselves with deep sighs. 'Damn... I forgot,' they thought.
"So have you two put great thought upon the matter?" he asked them.
Hayate stood before them wearing a navy blue blazer over a white dress shirt. His pants were black, and Kiku could tell that it was clothes from the secret wardrobe. 'The Empress probably gave those to him to wear... wait. Maybe that wardrobe was meant for the real Prince Yuudai all along!' Kiku thought to herself, yet left her thoughts when Shiro began to speak.
"Uh..." Shiro started, but didn't know what to say. He had nothing in mind, really.
"Actually Hayate," Kiku began now. "To be honest, I hadn't really gave your confession much thought after you left... I'm sorry."
Hayate was frozen. "B-but..."
"Listen," Shiro said. "Kiku is already with me. Her heart is with mine. You get it Hayate? We don't mean to be harsh but... we—"
"Oh, a love triangle?!" a familiar voice was heard. The princes and Kiku turned around to face the owner of the familiar voice.
It was The Empress. She was smiling brightly as she stood behind the trio now. By her side was her royal servant, Etsuko. The Empress had a mysterious smile visible on her lips.
"Your majesty," the princes bowed their heads respectfully as Kiku ran up to The Empress.
"Empress," Kiku smiled. "Etsuko," Kiku greeted with a smile still.
"Hello there Kiku," The Empress continued smiling as Etsuko greeted Kiku as well.
"What's with the mysterious smile?"
Hayate and Shiro glanced at each other. They couldn't believe what they were seeing. In front of their eyes was a person talking to The Empress so casually, as if they had the right to... In fact, this was the first time that they had ever seen Kiku really conversate with The Empress. Before, they would never really be around them long enough to see or hear them speak to each other. This amazed them. 'Kiku must really have a strong relationship with her majesty...' they thought to themselves.
"Well," The Empress chuckled. "I have a fun idea."
"I think it would be fun for me to play the love doctor today," The Empress chuckled as she, the princes, and Kiku sat together in the grand room now. The Empress had her hands held together on her lap as she stared at the three with a look so happy that they couldn't refuse her.
"Whatever," Shiro sighed.
"I don't mind," Hayate smiled.
"G-go for it Empress," Kiku chuckled.
"Alright!" The Empress laughed.
Etsuko entered the room with two men who carried a single beige chair for The Empress to sit on. They settled it down before the princes and Kiku, and then left with Etsuko after showing respectful bows. The Empress rose and walked over to the single beige chair, to take a seat.
"Now," she said. "We will evaluate upon who has the deepest feelings for Kiku here, and the one who loves and cares for her more, will be the one to be with her."
The three nodded. 'I have faith in you,' Kiku thought as she glanced at Shiro.
"Let's begin," The Empress smiled.
The Empress established that she would ask them questions as if they were in an interview. With that, they would answer her truthfully and they would then understand who was meant to be with Kiku, and who wasn't.
"Who met Kiku first?" This was The Empress' first question.
Shiro and Hayate glanced at each other and declared that they had met her at the same time on the same day.
"Well... who did you notice first, Kiku?" The Empress asked.
Kiku thought back to the day on the train when she had first met the boys.
"I noticed Hayate first..." she admitted.
Hayate smiled shyly, as Shiro scowled. The Empress chuckled as Kiku bowed her head in shame. The one she had noticed at first was not the prince that was currently her boyfriend.
"Who spoke to Kiku first?" This was The Empress' second question.
"Hayate... again." A scowl remained on the crown prince's face.
"Did the two of you help Kiku in any way before?" This was the Empress' third question.
Shiro couldn't think of any way that he had helped her before and shook his head. Kiku stood up.
"That's not true! When I was disguised as a prince, he helped me with many things! He went to a public school only because I wanted to, he shooed away other princes that were trying to pick on me at the royal academy, and he comforted me when I was feeling depressed about my deceased uncle..." she said as tears nearly formed in her eyes from the last sentence.
"So when you were telling me that you missed your uncle, you meant your real uncle? He's dead?" Shiro asked, surprised.
Kiku nodded and seated herself again.
"Wow," The Empress nodded. "That's a good one Prince Shiro. Nice going. You get a point!"
"Well," Hayate started now. "I was the one who let her into the palace..."
"... That's even better. He was the one who practically reunited her with her parents. Another point for Hayate," The Empress chuckled. "One to three."
'At this rate, Shiro is losing by two points...' Kiku thought. 'Does Hayate really love me more than Shiro does?'
"Which one of you saved Kiku from the accident first?" This was the Empress' fourth question.
The princes recalled that Hayate called out to Kiku first to watch out for the car. Yet, Shiro was the one who sprinted towards her first. He protected her with his body, and Hayate protected both of them with his.
"... I don't really know how to answer that," Shiro rubbed the back of his neck.
"Yeah, Prince Shiro got to her first, but I was there also..." Hayate said.
"If Prince Shiro was able to get there first, then it should be his point." The Empress announced. "Two to three."
"Which of you kissed Kiku first?" This was The Empress' fifth question.
"I did! We actually kissed four times!" Shiro smirked as he stood up.
The Empress stared at her proud grandson and then glanced at her other grandson who was wide eyed.
"F-four kisses?" Hayate questioned.
Kiku and Shiro nodded as he took his seat again.
"Three to three. It's a tie." The Empress smiled. "Last question," she said now.
The princes and Kiku's hearts began to beat rapidly now as they awaited the final question.
"What do you like about Kiku? Prince Hayate, you first."
"From the moment I met her in the train, I thought that she was beautiful. I liked that she could talk kindly with me. When she told me who her parents were, I thought it was fate. I knew them. I could see her bright personality in her blue eyes and I just knew... I liked her."
Shiro scowled at his cousin as Kiku smiled gently at Hayate now. What he had said brought back to her attention from the moment she met him, leading up to the fact that she wouldn't have had gotten the chance of finding and reuniting with her parents if it wasn't for him.
"How about you Prince Shiro? What do you like about Kiku?" The Empress asked. Kiku turned to Shiro now and smiled.
"Forget about what I think. Shouldn't it be about who Kiku wants to be with? Let her talk. Let her tell us what she likes about us. Go ahead Kiku," Shiro crossed his arms now and stared at her. He had already said what he had to say to her in the hospital room when they were alone. Now he felt that it was her turn to tell the honest truth about her feelings.
The Empress nodded. "That's not a bad idea," she smiled. "Go ahead Kiku. Start with how you feel about Prince Hayate."
"Oh," Kiku said as she glanced from Shiro to Hayate now. "Well, from the moment I met Hayate in the train, I knew that he had a kind, polite, and somewhat of a clumsy personality. I remember that he had almost revealed Shiro's and Takumi's true identity of princes, and had gotten into trouble with Shiro." Kiku laughed. "I remembered trying to help Hayate, when he told me that he knew my parents, I felt that I liked his truthful personality. I like that he's helpful and I always thought that his shy smile was cute."
Hayate showed his small, shy smile again as The Empress laughed and the crown prince scoffed.
"How about Prince Shiro?"
"Shiro..." Kiku began and turned to face him. "At first, I thought he was a jerk. The way he treated me and others, made me dislike him. Just the sight of him would irritate me in so many ways—"
"Hello! This is supposed to be about what you like about me!" Shiro interrupted, angrily.
Kiku smiled. "I'm getting there. Anyway... then, when I dressed up as a prince for the first time, I met him again... I discovered that behind that jerk-like personality of his, he had many sides hidden underneath. I'm not sure when exactly I started to like him... but when I was looking for a crown princess for him, I couldn't find the right one. I told myself that I was being picky about it for his sake... but maybe it was because, deep down... I wanted to be the right girl for him. When I thought about my first encounter with Shiro, and what took place between us up until this very day, I realized that we've actually overcome a lot together... he made me feel so many things. Anger, anxiousness, eagerness, fear, hope, comfort, thankfulness, confusion, happiness, and... love. I love him for who he is..." she admitted. "And there's really nothing more to it."
Shiro smiled at Kiku as it was silent now. Hayate immediately stood up.
"Hayate?" Kiku and The Empress questioned.
He glanced from face to face and remained his gaze towards Kiku now. "It's evident who you should be with," he said. "It's clear that you like me only as a friend... the things you say when you talk about Prince Shiro... it sounds like pure love. I can't possibly interfere with that. Like Prince Shiro had told me in the hospital room, he is my cousin. We are family. And you? You're my cousin's girlfriend," he showed a small smile in recognition that he would no longer try to get in between Kiku and Shiro anymore. "Thanks for saying I was c-cute though," he showed his usual shy smile.
"Hayate," Kiku giggled and stood up. "That's what I like to see," she said and hugged him. "Listen, I like the shy side of you okay? Back in the hospital room, I thought you changed! It scared me half to death. I bet many girls would love to see you stand up to their own cousin for their sake, but because my heart already belongs to Shiro... I couldn't really feel anything for you back there..."
"I understand," Hayate nodded and turned to his cousin. "Prince Shiro, I'm sorry I tried to declare rivalry with you. Now that I see how you and Kiku love each other so much... I couldn't possibly beat you."
Shiro stood up and patted Hayate on the back. "I forgive you this time. Don't let it happen again." Shiro walked away now.
As he walked away, he turned around. "At least we officially get to be cousins now right? Let's not have anything get in the way of that either. Not a servant-prince relationship, not a twelve year absence, and certainly not my charming girlfriend," Shiro smiled as Kiku ran over to his side.
Hayate nodded, smiling brightly, as he watched the couple walk away together.
"Are you okay Prince Hayate?" The Empress asked, as he continued to watch Shiro and Kiku exit the grand room happily in love.
"I am," he smiled as he turned around to face his grandmother.
"Now that I have a place to call home and a family to be with, there's nothing to keep me from being happy. It's true that I like Kiku," he said and stood before his grandmother. "But it was nothing compared to what they feel towards each other. I know better than to ruin my relationship with my cousin and my friendship I already have with Kiku... I feel ashamed that I had to sit here with your majesty as though we were on a television show, talking about how we really felt towards one another... only to realize that I had no chance."
"You're a great boy, Prince Hayate. You will end up with the right girl for yourself one day." The Empress smiled. "So would you like me to bring in another disguised prince on your behalf? Maybe you will find yourself a girl that's exactly like Kiku!" The Empress chuckled.
Hayate laughed as his grandmother exclaimed.
"Bring in the prince!"
Three years later...
Shiro had just turned twenty, and Kiku was only nineteen when they decided to finally have their marriage ceremony. She wore a long, magnificent, strap-less, white dress as she walked down the isle holding a bundle of beautiful flowers, that she had specially picked from the green house where she and Shiro would meet at every night. For the past three years, Kiku's jet black hair had grown longer and longer. Her hair was at a amazing length where it would touch her waist now, as she gracefully walked down to the end of the isle holding onto her father's arm as he sobbed. Ignoring her father's expected tears, Kiku's beautiful blue eyes stared only at the groom who wore a brilliant white tuxedo. His hands were rested calmly at his side, and he smiled gently at his bride. With all of the happiness he was able to feel while being with her, Shiro had grown accustomed to genuinely smiling at others now. Now as they stared at each other with their brilliant, gleaming eyes, Takumi and Hayate stood beside Shiro wearing casual black and white tuxedos, as his best men. Standing across from them, was Misaki and The Empress, herself, wearing lavender-colored bride's maid dresses.
The rest of the royal family sat at the front seat of the audience with Kiku's mother as everyone stared intently at the marrying couple before them. As Kiku's father finally let go of her, he made his way to his seat beside his wife, and wiped away his tears as he smiled proudly at this little princess being wed to a real life prince.
"Your uncle is with us today! He's watching you become a real life princess!" Kiku's father exclaimed loudly. People hushed him as they diverted their attention back to the wedding.
Kiku smiled as she rolled her eyes.
"He'd love to call me 'princess' right now..." she whispered to herself, thinking wonderful thoughts of her deceased uncle. Shiro had heard her and watched Kiku as her eyes looked up to the open-sky ceiling. Before carrying on with her wedding, she prayed to her beloved uncle. After Shiro had put a extravagant, jeweled crown on Kiku's head, they said their vows and exchanged rings.
"You are my princess," Shiro smiled.
Sealing their marriage with a kiss, they held each other tightly.
"And this is our happily ever after," he told her as the audience applauded to Prince Shiro's marriage to Kiku, who was now known as, Princess Kiku.
That was the longest chapter that I've written for this story. I hope it was worth your while...
Now, since I am finally done with this story, I will be moving on to 'Match'! If any of you readers, think you want to give that a shot to read, go for it! Please read and review. Thank you for all of your support and reviews for this story as well :)