Zalair paced around the west guest bedroom for a while thinking hard about everything he’d been told.
He began to list them aloud as he thought.
“Chevis is sick. The heir wants to attack us. The heir’s really the jerk Keigo.” He paused, grimacing at the thought of Keigo being king. “Keigo’s sister Juniper was murdered by her fiancée from the north. Now the North wants to attack either of our countries…”
He threw his arms up in the air, “Man I hate all this war talk!”
Deciding he could think better with some fresh air, Zalair started out to the west gardens. He went to the back corner, pushing open the iron gates, and entered to the small lush grove of trees and bushes. Stepping through the chilly snow, Zalair walked over to a stone bench and brushed off the snow, sitting on it.
He sighed, looking around him. He could always think well here.
Through his imagination, Zalair watched as the snow flew back up to the sky, and he watched as the seasons changed quickly back through time. Finally, the seasons stopped at the warm last day of summer thirteen years before.
A younger version of Zalair, running around in a baby-blue wizard-looking outfit, was trying to get away from another young boy. The other young boy was dressed in red and yellows of a similar outfit to Zalair’s, shouting after him. He looked like a younger version of Keigo.
“Zalair! You have to go home!” Keigo called, running through the garden after the other prince.
“No! I don’t wanna leave!” Zalair called back, he looked about six years old.
“Zalair!” Keigo shouted, looking like he was eight. He cornered Zalair under the bench. “Your family misses you! You have to go home today!”
“But I wanna stay here and play with you!” Zalair wailed. He always used to be a crybaby when he was little.
Keigo knelt down next to him, “But you have to go home.”
Keigo sighed, “Look just come back for my birthday, kay?”
“Can I stay then?”
“…Maybe.” Keigo smiled. He paused, then nodded, “Don’t worry! When you get older, you can stay with me always!”
“How?” Zalair asked, shifting out from under the bench.
“Well…” He thought a moment then nodded, “We’ll be like my parents- and marry!”
Zalair laughed, “Really?”
“Yeah! So do you wanna marry me when we get older?”
“So we can always be together?”
“Okay! But no being like my old man.” Zalair waved a finger at Keigo.
Keigo laughed, “Don’t worry! I don’t want anyone else.”
The two laughed for a few minutes together, then Zalair asked. “So, what do we do now?”
Keigo thought, “June says when you decide to marry someone you’re supposed to kiss them.”
“K-kiss? But I don’t know how!”
“I think we just push our lips together.”
“…That’s it?” Zalair asked, disappointed it sounded so uneventful.
Keigo nodded, taking Zalair’s cheeks in his hands. “But you have to close your eyes.”
“What if we bump into each other?”
“…We’ll move slowly then.” Keigo shrugged.
The two closed their eyes, and moved slowly, and gently pushed their lips together for a mere three seconds. Then Keigo pulled away.
The two looked to the ground, both silently thinking that they expected more from that kiss.
“Prince Zalair! Prince Zalair!” called the future, and Zalair blinked out of his imagination. He turned around to see the scholar with his hands on his hips, glaring at him.
“You’re covered in snow!” the scholar shouted, “Just how long have you been out here spacing?”
Zalair looked up to the starry crisp sky. “A few hours I guess…”
Gasping in shock, the scholar hurried Zalair up and back inside to the hot baths. “Get warm!” he said, “And then get to sleep!”
Zalair listened without much complaint.
As he let his body get the feeling back from the hot water, Zalair chuckled aloud. “Keigo was so cute when he was a kid… Now he’s a complete jerk!” He huffed, sinking into the hot water up to his chin. “We were so stupid when we were kids…” He shook his head, mentally recalling aloud, “Then a few months later when I came back for his birthday, Keigo was cold and rude to me. I never visited him again, except when I went to see Juniper’s wedding party about three months ago…”
He sighed, wishing he lied as good as Keigo. Thinking about Keigo made Zalair all the more pissed. With a huff, he got out and dried off. Then, dressed back into his usual attire, he returned down the halls toward the west guest room.