In the few weeks that were leading to the event of the century, the Raske twins were blessed with the arrival of a long-time friend, Zhao Raiden. A pleasant surprise for the younger twin. It was always a big deal anytime her best friend were to make an appearance. This time was no exception. With the new announcements of their own love lives coming to light for the entire world, time well spent in each other's company was much needed. So their days and nights spent out traversing the city of Kyiv and visiting all that Dredalan has to offer in the form of museums, landscapes and of course, nightlife. All in an attempt to clear their minds of the impending doom that came in the form of assigned betrothals. And in all that time, neither one of them even broached
the topic of their own betrothals though it was clear that it was ever-present and that it took up a lot of the real estate within their minds.
In order to even sneak away to grant the visit to the Raske clan, Raiden had used the excuse to get some work with the Xi'n Embassy in Dredalan. In truth, he had just spent most of his time with the Raske twins, specifically Ryn of course. Ever since his engagement had been announced, he stopped talking to Henri. He couldn't bring himself to talk to the younger man no matter how hard he had tried to pick up his phone. Eventually, Henri's calls stopped coming, and Raiden gave up trying to come up with something to say to the other Prince.
Raiden, instead, joined Ryn and her brother in some relaxing in the Raske home. King Merrick and Queen Mazarina, or as he had been told to call them since he was a kid, Rik, and Rina, had been happy to see him again. Raiden always treated Dredalan as his second home- though the Raske Palace felt more like a home than Xi'n did. While Raiden did get some work done while he stayed with the Raskes, he mostly spent his time with Ryn trying to help her with her pets or holding her back from her usual antics. It was fun until the day of their departure came and was slapped with the reality that he would have to face Henri face to face soon. Something that Ryn had been supportive of. Raiden felt like the biggest idiot in their whole plane ride.
The morning that they were to take off, Ryn was startled awake by her brother waltzing in, followed closely by his adviser, Lolan. "What time are we scheduled to depart?"
Ever the early bird, Morrhys strode to the far side of the room and pulled the drapes and curtains back, allowing what little light to filter in.
A heavy sigh emitted from the older male, and if Ryn were looking up from the covers, then she'd have seen Lolan pinch the bridge of his nose. "Wheels are scheduled to go up at 6:45 am. Good morning, Ms. Maeryn. Apologies for the intrusion." She ended up waving him off as she slumped over into a seating position. Morrhys, however, waved off his adviser, "Don't apologize to her; she ditched me last night at the Demon. Show her no sympathy. Make sure you're ready to go by 6, dear sister."
And with that he sauntered out of the room, Lolan following close behind.
She rubbed her face a few times, smacking herself lightly in order to rouse herself from a drowsy state before rolling out of bed and making her way out of her room and across the hall to where the gorgeous prince of Xi'n. Ryn opened the door without a care and shuffled across the hardwood floor, throwing herself into her best friend's temporary bed for the last couple of weeks. The room already smelled of him; cherry blossoms and cedar wood. It always had this calming effect on the youngest Raske princess. There were times when they were younger that she would purposely steal blankets of his and just wrap herself in their familiarity when she experienced outbursts of manicisms, and Raiden was nowhere near her to provide comfort. A habit that she has yet to kick in all their years of knowing one another. One that she doesn't ever plan on ceasing either.
Slipping under the covers to join her bestie, she began to wrap her arms around his torso, jolting him awake at the cold touch of her fingers against his skin. Raiden was typically a heavy sleeper. He was known to sleep through thunderstorms and five-alarm clocks, but the feeling of Ryn's cold fingers on his skin pulled him from his dream. His eyes snapped opened, and he instinctively pulled away from the cold but stopped when he saw who it was. "Why?"
Raiden let out a groan and turned on his side to face - only making his long hair tangle up even more. With a yawn, he sat up slowly and began to de-tangle the hair that had been wrapped around his neck. "What time is it? Do we have to leave already?"
Ryn's sleepy smirk curled up on her face as her eyes raked across the prince's features, "What-?"
She tried to hold back the laugh that was threatening to spill past her lips. To no avail. "Your Highness, Hair of Xi'n."
It was then that he stomped off to the en suite to get ready for the day and to de-tangle his own personal rat's nest. Ryn's laugh was heard throughout the room even as she left and traveled back to her own room to get ready for the day.
The dining room had already been set for them by the time they entered the room. While they ate breakfast, they talked about their plans after they arrived at Aciras. Rhys had suggested going out to party the day before the Welcome Party - something Raiden and Ryn weren't looking forward to. The trio had done quite a lot of partying during Raiden's stay, and the Xi'n Prince was starting to look tired. And honestly, Ryn felt tired too. However, as Raiden had explained to Ryn, the exhaustion wasn't in part because of the parties or the drinking, but more so because of the two-month celebration. None of them were looking forward to spending those two months stuck in close quarters with the people they had been betrothed to. Especially since the only interactions they have had before hand was few and far between and less than a few words here and there.
Their drive to the private airport was quick. All three of them had packed their belonging a few days before they were set to leave so that there would be more time to relax and de-stress before it all came crashing down on them. Seeing as how Ryn was the one with the most luggage of the three, Raiden had convinced her to pack first. Double checking her own packing skills to make sure it was together before they left. Otherwise he was going to have to listen to her bitch and complain. So, there she was, sitting across from her best friend, while Rhys was busy taking selfies in the front of the cabin with Bela, his Russian Blue, as they traveled in style on Raiden's private EL 650 towards Aciras. Sipping mimosas and munching on croissants and jam. The teacups on saucers tinkling softly as the background noise of the engines hummed on in, almost,
As the flight continued, the friends began to conduct business. "Ol has been pulling in great sales the last few months. The last fall/winter event was a success..."
she noted as she filled in some paperwork that laid out on the table between them. Boris, her large Stuffawler pitbull, was sat atop her foot, the other placed up under her as she sat there. Raiden nodded, a tablet of his own within eyesight and reach, continuing to stroke his rabbit on his lap. "I thought so too. These are some of the new concepts we talked about a week ago? I had Guillermo draft some sketches. 'Cause I was thinking that once the wedding festivities are said and done we can go ahead with a late spring more summer show? Roll out these new designs."
Ryn nodded along as she viewed the newest editions to their portfolio. Guillermo was one of their best designers and the fact that he was able to pump out a concept so quickly with just a few drunk ideas to go off was more than impressive.
The two continued to talk shop while the televisions, towards the front of the plane, played the news in the background. The reporters, from literally every channel, were all invested in this Aciras wedding that was taking place the next day. "… reporting that the estimated amount of people in attendance for tomorrow's event seems to be somewhat on the smaller side than originally predicted. It's a buzz as to whether that was planned specifically by the royal Willow family, or if it was information that was leaked before the final guest list was completed." "That's right Diane, let's take a look at what we do know so far. Here we -,""Ugh, isn't it already enough that this is happening without the harassment of plebeians?"
Ryn complained as she scratched behind the monstrous beast's ears as he sat curled under her legs. Raiden smiled at Ryn before he rolled his eyes as he stroked Tao's beautiful, soft fur in the process. "We are royalty. They want to be us. Of course, they would want to know everything that goes on behind closed doors."
Raiden wanted to be them
though. To be free of royal duties and carrying the bloodline, blah blah blah. All the responsibilities that come with the titles is enough to scare even the toughest. No one wants to do them, but someone must. And in Raiden's case, being the only heir to Xi'n, it all fell to him. Ryn stared at him through her long lashes, knowing what was eating at him. She could always tell. It wasn't dissimilar to herself. Ryn longed for some semblance of normalcy that she knew she was never going to get.
She reached forward and grabbed at his hand, holding on to it and giving him a slight squeeze, "The only good thing to come out of this is that you're going to be there with me~"
she teased him, shooting him a wink from across their table. Raiden mimicked her then stuck out his tongue. And the back and forth teasing of funny faces and random words commenced. As much as Raiden looked forward to the party with Ryn, he couldn't help but feel nervous about one thing: Henri. He wasn't ready to see him just yet- he wasn't sure if he would ever be ready to face the man he had been lying to for so long. The past weeks had been a distraction, but now, now he had to meet up with Henri face to face.
The trio arrived at Aciras a day before the 'Welcome Ball' was set to start. They had planned out a day full of drinks, parties, and even more drinks. Though a lot of that was wishful thinking on Rhys' part. Eventually, after an extended detour through the downtown area, they arrived at The Plaza, the only hotel that was up to their standards and had a habit of housing royalty when needed. While the bellhops were unloading the luggage from the blacked-out car, Rhys had emerged first and extended his arms out for Ryn and Raiden, with Raiden giving him a flirty wink before taking his arm. Ryn followed shortly after with red lips smirking upwards. The pearls around her neck swayed just slightly as she reached up to grab his hand and slip out of the back of the car. As the winds began to pick up the slightest as the bellhops brought their things, a few of them questioning their stay. "Is your job to ask questions, boy?"
The poor creature just stood there shaking.
"N-N-No, ma'am-" There was no time for the boy to finish his sentence before Ryn began to berate him. "MA'AM?!"
Ryn continued as Rhys just stood off to the side, covering his snickering face with his hands.
Raiden's instincts kicked in just before Ryn pulled out her balisong knife out and threatened any more bodily harm to the poor guy. They did not need to give the tabloids another
excuse to flock the hotel or give them anymore reasons to write nasty stories about the Princess of Dredalan. There were already too many of those. Raiden had stepped in to grab her arm gently and pull her along, giving the poor guy an apologetic look as they walked by. Rhys stayed behind to smoke a cigarette and to keep tabs on the bellhops, tipping them before they started heading up to the respected suites."I'm not a ma'am! Am I? No, no, I am not!"
Ryn had continued as Raiden led her into the lobby for their check-in. He ignored the various weird looks that came their way. All too use to them at this point. It was an occupational hazard when one associates with the younger Raske twin. "No, you are the best princess anyone has ever seen in Aciras - no this planet."
Raiden patted her back and continued to calm her down, lightly grazing his nails along her arm as they checked into their suites.
The rest of the night had gone by more smoothly - even taking a more enjoyable turn. Ryn and Raiden submitted to Rhys' protests of wanting to go out and enjoy "Aciras after dark, what better time to enjoy it than now? If either of you even think about ditching me again, there will be hell to pay~"
The aforementioned just rolled their eyes but submitted nonetheless. Showering and then dressing for a night out. Ryn had even volunteered to be the chaperone for the night. Though all bets were off when the reigning leader of Dredalan ended up being pulled away by a gaggle of women looking for "a good time"
and ended up ditching them instead. "Wow. What a turn of events." The two ended the night early with them cuddled up together in the large bed, sipping the hotel's champagne out of the bottle while watching trashy reality TV shows.
They were greeted with hangovers and headaches the next morning and as they shuffled around the suite, their assistants had their hands full with trying to get the royals to stay on task. Much more difficult than one would think. But in their current states, it couldn't be helped. So instead, their personal entourage just pushed through and succeeded in getting them presentable and into the car and on their way to Aciran Castle.
It was now or never. In their time of dreading the confrontations that were liking going to take place within a few minutes to hours - depending on the speed at which trouble was going to find them. And to be honest, it always followed them. It was inevitable. Ryn crossed her leg and in doing so the slit in her black and red dress
just accentuated the bare skin beneath. She readjusted the blade
she was housing under the fabric of her own branded couture
, something to keep her decorated hands
preoccupied as she thought about how to broach the subject. Normally she wouldn't care if she were too bold or crass. But seeing as it was Raiden, she couldn't bring herself to kick him while he was already down. A cleared throat later and she posed the question, "What're you going to do when you see him tonight?"
His response didn't come quick enough when Rhys spit from his side of the luxury car, "What about you? What are you going to do when you see your betrothed tonight?"
It was no surprise that Morrhys Raske disliked the Tessian prince. Anyone who his younger, druggie of a brother found worth a damn thing, was clearly someone he wanted nothing to do with. However, when news broke out that his twin was to be wed to such a person, there was little celebration. The same was said for Maeryn, she didn't see the appeal in the young man. He was charming, yes, but not someone that would typically pair well with someone like her. Though, it was neither of their choices to be wed to one another, Rhys still treated the entire situation as if Ryn enjoyed the act. So, his actions towards her in this regard was that of acidic and it was un-welcomed. Ryn made sure to let him know as such when she drew one of her many blades on her dear twin, making sure to keep the edge off of his skin, "I will do as I always do. Gather information and use it as I see fit."
She removed the blade and placed it back in it's hiding spot. "You, however, got the best deal of them all. Going to meet the in-laws tonight, I do wonder how that will play out for you."
Rhys nodded, completely unfazed by his twin's show of dominance, adjusting the pressed collar of his Ol suit
. It was nothing new to him. Nor to Raiden, who continued to stare out the windows. "Think they'll let me call them 'mom and dad'?"
Rhys questioned, a sly smirk gracing his features. The other two couldn't help but laugh at his joke. Though deep down, they wouldn't put the notion behind him."Well, Rai?"
Ryn swept her somewhat tamed rat's nest
out of her eyes
as she smiled at the other prince in her presence. She was going to be there for him no matter what. But she needed to know what he was thinking so that she could be prepared for whatever the night, and the next two months, had in store for them.
Raiden turned his face to look at Ryn then glance over at Rhys. While he didn't hide much from either of the twins, he wasn't so sure if they wanted to hear what he had been kicking himself over for the past few months. "I honestly don't know."
It was the truth. He had no idea as to what he was going to tell Henri when he saw him, if
he ever saw him. He knew Henri was the kind to avoid parties and other social events, but also in knowing him he'd most likely be dragged along by his older brother. "I don't even want to see her."
He commented as his rubbed the sides of his temple, trying to alleviate some of the headache that was growing there. "God, I've been avoiding everyone for so long and suddenly I'm being thrown in a place where Beatrice and Henri are going to be. And at the same time!? It's like hell."
A Hell Raiden was not looking forward to reside in for the next two months or so. "If it gets ugly, I give you permission to use that dagger of yours on me - please."
With that, Raiden closed their conversation. He didn't want pity or sympathy from the twins. It was a mess he had gotten himself into when it could have been avoided easily by just talking to Henri.
By the time their car rolled past the security check point to the Aciran castle, the duo had become quieter while Rhys laughed at their apparent headaches. None of it helped as they stepped out of the car, Raiden offering his hand to Ryn as she slipped from the car; insuring no inappropriate mistakes to take place. Once emerged and straightened up, they waved at some of the cameras that hadn't stopped their assault of flashings and constant chatter to get them to "look their way". They were a sight to behold, what with Ryn donning a piece from their latest couture line, while Raiden himself wore a similar matching piece of his own Ol
pairing it with a coat Henri had designed a few months ago. He may have been stupid to wear it, but it housed a nice pattern that reminded him of Xi'n. As always, Raiden wore some of his own personal jewelry
, his usual black nail polish, and his hair
neatly combed and pulled up in a half bun.
Familiarities were exchanged between the duo and the royal hosts of Aciras. Ryn couldn't wait to get away from it all. Neither one could imagine the annoyance of having to stand at attention waiting on everyone to arrive, being addressed in the same fashion every 30 minutes of so. How incredibly monotonous.
The two breached the threshold of the ballroom, scanning the other bodies that were present and had arrived before them. Their eyes instantly locked on to the one person that was going to give Raiden a heart attack. Tucked away in one of the many corners of the room was the younger prince of Luxembourg, looking as dashing as he always was. Ryn could feel her friend's blood run cold at the sight of his boyfriend. Ex? She wouldn't worry with the semantics of it all. Instead, she ushered him to a closer corner of their own. He reached out and placed a steadying hand on the small bar-top like table before them, shaky breaths leaving him silently. As luck would have it, it didn't seem as though Henri caught a glance at them, though she was made well aware of the fact that others noticed her presence; the air around them had grown stale and she couldn't help to attribute that to her own reputation. A waitstaff approached them with the utmost professionalism and before anything could be uttered from their lips, Ryn grabbed two flutes of champagne and placed them in front of her business partner, "Bring us some bourbon. 3 fingers each, easy ice."
The look she attached to the end of her demand ended the conversation then and there. It's not like they were going to deny her. While they waited she offered one of the flutes to Raiden who graciously took it."Here's to the next two months,"
he sighed, as he held the glass up for a small toast, "They better pray I don't get an itch to flay something..."