The bed felt oddly cold and vast. Subaru curled up under the covers, trying to fit his long frame into the single warm spot on the mattress without success. With a soft sigh, he rolled over in order to cuddle up close to Seishirou. When his hand encountered nothing but more coldness, he opened sleepy eyes and blinked.
The space on the bed beside him was empty.
Subaru frowned. Was Seishirou already up? Then he realised it wasnít just Seishirouís absence that was curious, it was also the bed-sheets. They had been red, he was certain of that; Hokuto had chosen it just for them. Now they were simple pale blue linen, strangely rough to the touch after the silken softness of before.
Discomfort wiping away any lingering trace of sleepiness, he sat up and stared at the room.
His own room, the one in the house he shared with the Dragons of Heaven.
Dazedly, Subaru rubbed his eyes. The room didnít change. The single bed he lay in, a simple wardrobe with a dusty mirror hanging inside the door, a worn chair near the window with his torn clothes carelessly flung over it. That was it. No luxurious carpet, no wide sofa, no TV, no crimson curtain above him. It was as if they had never existed.
Had everything been a dream?
Slowly, Subaru got out of bed, belatedly realising that he wasnít wearing anything. He tried to process that while he hesitantly placed bare feet on the wooden floor as if it might disappear from beneath him. It didnít, and he forced his exhausted body to make its way over to the bathroom. Turning on the water, he thrust his head underneath the showerhead. The shock of the change in temperature washed all the cobwebs away from his brain, finally working through the problem of his change in surroundings and the absence of the one whom he thought should not be absent.
Hokuto always turned up in the morning. And Seishirou had been with him Ė Subaru had fallen asleep in his arms after the climax of their wedding night.
Or so he thought.
Mechanically Subaru snagged a towel and dried himself, burying his face in the soft cloth. Had those four days really happened? Had Hokuto-chan really returned and brought him and Seishirou together? Had he really gotten married to the Sakurazukamori? Now that his mind was working properly again it did seem rather impossible. Subaru shook his head at himself as he made his way to the wardrobe, blushing as certain . . . other memories came back to him. Now there was no way that could have really happened.
It was absolutely ridiculous, he told himself, completely absurd and ludicrous.
But it had felt so . . . real . . .
Okay, stop right there.
Subaru quickly opened eyes he didnít know he had closed and hastily pulled on the first set of clothes that came to hand. Running a hand absently through his hair to make it slightly more presentable he opened the door, left his room and made his way down the staircase to join the other Dragons of Heaven for breakfast. It seemed he was the last of the Seals to arrive and Subaru could hear threads of conversation as he walked down the hallway.
" . . . so Iím not the only one who had a weird dream last night?" Sorata said.
"Depends what you mean by weird," replied Yuzuriha.
"I think a wedding between Subaru-san and his worst enemy definitely fits into the weird category. Would you like a cup of coffee, Miss?"
Subaru stopped in mid-step.
"You dreamt that too?" two voices said at once. Subaru automatically identified them as the two youngest Seals as he forced his feet to resume walking.
"Whatís this about dreams?" asked Seiichiro. There was the scrape of a chair against the floor. "Because I had a very strange one last night. Believe it or not, we were all attending a weddingĖ"
"For Subaru-san and the Sakurazukamori with the Dragons of Earth also present? Pass the soup, please," came another voice.
"Actually, Karen-san, yes," replied the Windmaster, surprise evident in his voice.
Subaru had almost reached the door by now. "I too had the same dream," said Arashiís cool voice softly.
There was a deafening silence of surprise and confusion.
"Ok," said Sorata finally. "Who made dinner last night?"
"Me," replied Kamui. "Why?"
"Whatever you cooked, it gave us all bad dreams."
"Where is Subaru-san anyway?" asked Seiichiro.
The person in question opened the door. "Iím here." Six pairs of eyes turned and stared at him. Subaru tried to ignore them. "Sorry Iím late. I overslept." He could see Karen thinking evil thoughts as to why he overslept. Subaru pretended not to see.
Sorata was giving him a funny look. "Did you have any weird dreams last night?"
Subaru tried not to meet the eyes of the other Seals as he went to fetch the last bowl of soup from the tray. "Uh, what do you mean by weird?" he asked as casually as possible.
He didnít need onmyoujitsu to sense the exchange of looks behind him. "Really weird," said Kamui helpfully. "Really, really weird."
"If you mean pink dancing elephants weird, then no. Whatís for breakfast?" Subaru asked, hoping to drop the subject.
"Uh, we mean weirder than that," said Yuzuriha.
"We all dreamt that we attended your wedding," called Karen from where she was standing getting herself some coffee.
Subaru had a funny feeling in his gut. "My wedding?" he repeated.
"Yeah," said Sorata. "Guess who to." Subaru stared at his bowl of soup without seeing it. "The ultra-cold, ultra-powerful and ultra-scary Sakurazukamori."
Subaru didnít answer, holding his hands in his lap under the table as he stared at his bowl of soup.
"The Dragons of Earth also came," Seiichiro said.
"Your sister was there," said Arashi.
"She had a pink sakura blossom dress with wings and a halo," Yuzuriha chipped in.
"Sheís a bit over-enthusiastic," Kamui remarked, absently rubbing his head.
"You and the Sakurazukamori looked like you were having fun too," said Karen slyly.
Subaru focused as much attention as he could on his soup without looking ridiculous "Y-yeah, that does count as weird," he managed to say, quickly bringing his hands out from under the table and dipping his spoon into his breakfast. "But t-that was just a dream so letís all forget about it, ok? Ok."
No one spoke. Subaru paused with his spoon halfway to his mouth and looked up. The six Seals were all staring at him with eyes as wide as his bowl.
Subaru glanced from one to another. "What?"
His comrades didnít seem to hear him. Subaru put down the spoon and sat up, a feeling of disquiet began to grow in his gut. No, they werenít staring at him, they were staring at his hand.
Slowly, Subaru raised his left hand to his face.
It took several seconds and several pinches to make sure he wasnít dreaming before the significance of the ten-pointed star on the silver band adorning his ring finger fully sank into him. When it finally clicked, Subaru was very grateful that he was sitting down, otherwise he might have toppled over.
For several minutes, no one spoke.
It was Sorata, predictably, who first regained control of his tongue.
"Well then," he said as casually as possible, trying not to look at the frozen statue of the Sumeragi staring at his wedding ring. "Suppose weíd better get used to addressing Subaru-san as Sakurazuka-san now."
The sunlight shining directly onto his face was already enough to tell Seishirou that something wasnít right. He always drew the curtains before he went to bed.
"Close the curtains, Subaru-kun," he said aloud without opening his eyes.
Seishirou frowned and raised himself up on one arm. He blinked and squinted past the brightness. Then he frowned even more when he found himself in the elegance of his apartment and no Subaru in sight.
What the Ė?
Suspiciously the Sakurazukamori looked around his room, half-expecting Hokuto to pop out from a wall somewhere with her maniacal giggles. But no ghost appeared and no Subaru turned up to wish him good morning. And the room didnít change to the bedroom suite either, no matter how many times he rubbed his eyes.
Had he had dreamt it all?
No Subaru. No red bedroom suite. No Hokuto.
If one was to look at it logically and practically, evidence all pointed to the affirmative.
Seishirou yawned and placed his arm over his eyes, hoping to sleep a bit longer. Maybe the dream would come back, however his slumber was too much disturbed for him to relax again. A pity. It had been a very interesting dream, even with his very limited experience of them he knew last nightís one was exceptional. Who could imagine it, he and Subaru coming together in that way. He wouldnít put it past Hokuto-chan to kidnap him and Subaru and force them to stay together. And Subaru, he never would have imagined that the Sumeragi could be capable of doing things like that to him and with him.
Ice-cream and ribbons . . . Subaru-kun, youíre so cute. Seishirou laughed softly to himself. Itís a good thing that it was just a product of my imagination, strange as it was. I doubt we could have lived happily married for too long. Though it would have been fun while it lasted.
He sighed, and decided he might as well get up. Flicking the covers away (why wasnít he wearing anything?) Seishirou reached out to take hold of the robe hanging nearby when something sparkling on his hand caught his eye. The assassin frowned and brought his left hand to his face.
There was a silver wedding ring on his finger.
Seishirou blinked and stared. Curiously, he slid the ring off with minimal difficulty and inspected it. The outside of the band was featureless except for a ten-pointed star deeply engraved into the shiny surface. There were no spells of any sort that he could sense attached either. The ring seemed perfectly normal, nothing special at all.
There was something written on the inside. Seishirou held the ring up to the light and angled it so that he could read the words there with his one good eye.
To the winner of the Bet.
Sakurazuka Seishirou stared at the inscription for a moment or two. Then he flopped back onto the pillow and laughed. And laughed, and laughed.
"Ah, my dear sister-in-law," the assassin finally said aloud to the empty room. "You never could resist from meddling in our affairs, could you."
Shaking his head, Seishirou put the wedding ring back where it belonged. He held up his hand and admired it sitting on his finger for a second. Then he grinned, put on his robe and went out into the apartment balcony to look over the city and enjoy his first cigarette for the morning.
Sumeragi Hokuto was having a good day. Ok, so time didnít have much meaning to her anymore, being dead and all, and it was actually only an hour or so after sunrise when she flew down and settled onto a small white cloud. Her glowing halo was arranged perfectly on her head and her latest variant on the angel uniform Kami had given was adequately frilled and decorated. She smiled as she leaned over the edge of her fluffy cloud to gaze at the expanse of Tokyo below.
Perhaps she should have waited until Subaru and Seishirou were awake before returning them to the mortal realm. But when Hokuto had very sheepishly and very embarrassedly crept into the bedroom to check on the newly-weds they had looked too sweet and um, tired to be woken up. And besides, Kami had quite firmly said that now that her goal had been reached, there was no more reason for the pair to stay any longer.
The ghost placed a hand under her chin and frowned in thought. She wondered what their reactions would be upon waking. Would they even realise what had happened? Or would they think they had dreamt it all? She hoped not, otherwise all of her work would have been for nothing, and she really hated that.
It was a shame that their time together had to have been cut short, though. Hokuto had had a lot of fun Ė she had missed being with her brother and Ďfriendí. She was pretty sure Subaru and Seishirou had also enjoyed the experience after a while. A memory struck in her mind like a chord and the dead Sumeragi sibling giggled as she suddenly remembered one particular morning. Actually, she knew that they had had fun.
The giggles halted and Hokuto sighed, standing up and spreading her wings to leave. What a pity it had to end.
Suddenly she stopped as a thought occurred to her.
Then again . . . there was always the honeymoon . . .
A slow, evil grin spread itself over the ghostís face.
With a silvery peal of maniacal laughter, Hokuto disappeared.
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