|CinderMedion - By Arashi|
Note: This fanfic contains a pairing of Synbios and Medion. If you don't like that kinda stuff, then don't read the fic ;).
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful widow called Melinda, who was terribly, terribly poor. Fearing for the future of her young son, she decided to marry again. Her beauty was not gone unnoticed, and she soon found a second husband who was comfortably rich, although he had two sons of his own by a previous marriage. However, soon after the marriage took place, Domaric began to show his true colours. He had a terrible temper, and a habit of dismembering people he didn’t like. His two sons were much like him; Mageron, the eldest, was spoiled and vain, and Arrawnt, the other, cruel and selfish.
Medion, Melinda’s son, was the complete opposite. He was good and kind, and the complete counterpart of his mother; a truly beautiful young man, unlike his two stepbrothers. A short time after the marriage, however, Melinda died under dubious circumstances. Medion was given no time to mourn, because the moment she was gone, his stepfathers and stepbrothers began mistreating him. They had him do all the chores of the house and bullied him and forced him to live the life of a servant. He dared not complain, because he feared Domaric’s temper and had nowhere else to turn.
Anyway, as it happened, Julian the odd-job-servant, stable boy, part-time drunkard and all-round moody redhead wandered into the sitting room one day. Medion was sweeping the floor, dressed in the shabby clothes that were all that was allowed him, and Domaric, Mageron and Arrawnt were reclined on the couches sipping champagne, since they had nothing better to do.
“Post,” Julian remarked, tossing a bundle of letters onto the table. “Tax bill, phone bill, assassin’s bill, threatening letter from Mageron’s stalker, and an invitation to the palace ball.” He turned and slouched out of the room again, shooting Medion a sympathetic look as he went.
“A ball?” Arrawnt asked languidly. Domaric snatched up the invitation and read it with interest.
“It seems that King Conrad has decided that the prince and princess are at an age where they should marry, and he is holding a ball for every eligible young man and woman in the kingdom so that they may both choose their suitor.” His eyes gleamed. “Right, go and make yourself look pretty, the pair of you. The princess is the eldest, and in line for the throne. If we can get one of you hitched to her, the kingdom will soon be under my – I mean, our command.” Manical laughter echoed around the room.
Mageron was already preening. Arrawnt looked bored.
“Do we have to?”
“Shut up and do it.”
The pair of them got up and filed out. Domaric’s eyes rested thoughtfully on Medion.
“And what about you? Do you want to go to the ball… Medion?”
Medion glanced up and met his eyes, then looked away again.
“Not really my kind of thing, father.”
“Indeed.” Domaric smirked. “How everyone would laugh to see a common urchin like yourself at a royal ball.” He too got up and headed for the door. “Besides… you have far too many chores to do. You have no time for such things.”
Medion waited until his stepfather was safely out of earshot, then glared at the closed door.
It was two days later. Arrawnt and Mageron had spent the entire time planning for the party. Medion was looking forward to it as well, since it meant he’d get rid of the three of them for a few hours. He was worn out. He’d spent the last forty-eight hours working flat out, making trips to the tailor’s, trips to the barber’s, more trips to the tailor’s, washing and brushing up all his brothers’ clothes, all in addition to all his usual chores which Domaric insisted he still had to do. He collapsed in front of the fireplace, watching in relief as his stepbrothers and stepfather left the house, trussed up like a bunch of peacocks, and got into a carriage.
“Thank Elbesem for that.” He could have a rest, and then an early night. Yes, thank Elbesem for small mercies. Maybe he’d have a game of cards with Julian as well, although he’d never won a game with the guy yet. And a bath. He must look a state right now. His clothes were even dirtier than usual, and he’d lost his hair ribbon somewhere, meaning his hair was draped all over his shoulders.
He closed his eyes and enjoyed the silence for a few moments, before opening them in puzzlement. A light had filled the room. Pink light. What…?
He blinked and sat up, looking around. Then, before his eyes, a figure appeared. A woman… no, a man. A man in a blue dress with pale purple hair in three braids and pointed ears and red eyes who looked like a girl.
The newcomer blinked for a moment, looking disorientated, then smiled at the bemused Medion.
“Hi!” He beamed.
“Who on earth are you?”
“Me? I’m your – I’m your – “ The boy in the dress looked at the script in his hand for a moment, then sweatdropped. “I’m your… fairy… godfather.” He had the decency to look embarrassed.
“My what?” Medion gaped at him. The… fairy… looked put out.
“Your fairy godfather, idiot. I’m here to grant you a wish. Now get up. You want to go to the ball, right?”
“Right. Then we – what? What do you mean, no?” He put his hands on his hips. “Of course you do. It’s in the story. You can at least try to make this easier for me.”
Medion got up carefully. The young man in the braids blinked. “Hey, you’re taller than I imagined.” Then he shrugged. “Oh well, no matter. You can call me Noon. And I’m here to make sure you go to the ball.” He elbowed Medion. “I hear the prince is a hottie.”
Medion looked slightly shocked. “I *beg* your pardon?”
“The prince. And he’s available. Now, this won’t take a moment, so let’s get it over with.” He pointed the Charm Wand in his hand at Medion, producing a flash of light which ended with Medion clad in a very pretty attractive white dress, elbow gloves and some glass slippers, with his hair all done up in a heap on top of his head.
Noon clapped. “There you are. Beautiful!”
Medion stared down at himself in stunned silence. Then the door banged open, and Julian walked in with an armful of firewood. When he took in the scene before him, he dropped it all over the floor with a clatter, and facefaulted.
“Hey, man, sorry! If I’d known… I’d’ve knocked.” He continued staring. Noon looked confused.
“Man?” His eyes widened. “Wait… you’re a *guy*?”
Medion glared at him. The fairy wizard snickered.
“Sorry. I think I got my wires crossed. You should’ve said. I got the impression you were a girl.” He brightened. “Mind you, I wear a dress, and it’s never done me any – “
That was enough. Medion snatched up the poker from beside the fireplace, which incidentally was very rapier-shaped, and pointed it at him.
“Kimi ni urami-– “ he began.
“All right! All right!” Noon held up his hands quickly before he was the unfortunate victim of a Centurion attack, and waved the wand again. “Here you are.” The dress transformed into some very fetching white and gold armour, complete with tight thigh-high boots and a revealing midsection. The fairy godfather wolf-whistled. “Hey, I like that *much* better. By the way, that’s a terrible battle cry.”
Medion glowered and folded his arms. Julian raised an eyebrow.
“Uh… what’s going on?”
Medion motioned towards Noon.
“This… strangely attired person says he’s a fairy and he’s come to make my wishes come true. I must say he hasn’t been doing terribly well so far.”
Noon looked hurt. “Hey, I’m new at this. Give me a break.” He grinned at Julian. “We’re going to the ball. Wanna come?”
Julian snorted. “As if. There is no way in hell you’ll make me give up my valuable time to hang around in some poncy dance hall with a bunch of upper-class morons who think the most important thing in life is whether their wig’s on straight – “
“There’ll be free alcohol.”
“ – I’m there.”
“Good.” Noon smiled brightly. “You’re outvoted, Mister Grumpy-Pants. We’re going. Now come along. I want to get an eyeful of this prince, even if you don’t.” He swept out of the room.
Julian turned to Medion and raised his eyebrows.
Medion put his head in his hands. “What did I ever do to deserve this.”
Julian smirked. “Well, free drink is free drink. Could be a laugh. You coming?” He took in Medion’s outfit. “You might have a chance at the princess in that getup. You look good.”
“I don’t *want* – “
“Oh, come on, man, loosen up.” Julian grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the room, eyes bright at the concept of a good night’s drinking ahead.
Medion peered over the side of the open-top carriage nervously. “Where did you say you got this thing from again?”
Noon waved a hand carelessly. “I have my sources. Now, if you don’t mind, we have to talk terms.”
“I have a contract to fulfil, you know. This wish business… there are conditions, discussion of payment –“”
Medion looked at him suspiciously. “You want paying? I thought you were supposed to be a good fairy.“
Noon looked hurt. “I am. But you don’t get anything for nothing these days.”
“I don’t even want to *be* here-“
“*So*,” Noon continued loudly, ignoring him, “when the clock strikes midnight, if you’re still at the ball, you’ll…”
“You’ll…” he appeared to be thinking about it. Then he grinned. “You’ll turn SD and I get to keep you in my pet chibi collection.”
Medion sweatdropped. From the driver’s seat, Julian turned and speared the wizard with a suspicious look.
“Does that go for me too?”
“Yup,” Noon replied happily. Julian considered, apparently weighing up this prospect against the free alcohol, then he shrugged and continued driving.
“I’m missing a hot bath for this,” Medion muttered.
They arrived at the palace suspiciously fast, and Noon jumped out of the carriage and opened the door for Medion, bowing to him as he got out. He’d worked his magic on Julian as well, who was now also looking quite fetching in his own outfit, and although he’d pretended not to care at the time, was currently admiring himself in a nearby puddle. The other two stared up at the palace, with its fabulous décor and lavish architecture. People in equally lavish clothing were crowded around the entrance.
“I’m having second thoughts about this.”
Noon turned surprised crimson eyes on Medion.
“Why? We’re doing this for you, you know. You should be grateful.” He smiled brightly.
Medion rolled his eyes. “Actually, forget second thoughts. I’m past those. I must be on at least, oh, fifth or sixth thoughts by now.”
“He’s right, man. You don’t get out enough.” Julian strode purposefully towards the staircase leading up to the main doors. Medion looked at Noon again.
“If you don’t mind my asking, just how are you planning on getting us in there? I’m sure they don’t let just anyone – “
“Leave it to me,” Noon chirped, propelling him towards the entrance. “I’ll sort out everything.”
“That’s rather what I’m afraid of.”
Julian was waiting for them at the top of the stairs, jigging impatiently. In front of them, people were filing into a massive ballroom. A butler in an impossibly starched uniform was announcing each set of guests to the room as they arrived.
“Sir Franz and General Spiriel of Destonia!”
“King Benetram and Queen Dragon of Aspia!”
“Lord Produn and Lady Stella of Baersol!”
Medion arched an eyebrow at Noon expectantly. Noon, however, was too busy peering ahead into the ballroom. Inside was a cacophany of people and expensive dresses and food and drink and chandeliers; the room by itself was bigger than Medion’s house.
There was a distinct pattern to the bustle of people on the dance floor. There was a crowd of women at one side, and a crowd of young men at the other. Presumably, the prince and princess were somewhere in the middle of these mobs. Noon stood on his tiptoes, trying to get a look at the famous Prince Synbios. He spotted him at last, and his eyes suddenly turned into little hearts.
Julian elbowed him, hard. “Stop checking out the merchandise, fruitcake. We have to introduce ourselves. What are we supposed to say? Two worthless peasants and a hormone-crazed fairy?”
Noon cast him a sulky glance, then leaned over and whispered something into the butler’s ear. The man sweatdropped, but when Medion glared at him imperiously he turned and called down into the dance hall.
“Er… three handsome and mysterious strangers!”
All noise ceased. The violins stopped playing, even the band having looked up to get a glimpse of the newcomers. Everyone in the hall turned to look up at them. Talking stopped, and silence descended.
Medion looked mortified. Julian grinned at the attention, then suddenly spotted alcohol and sauntered off down the steps into the crowd. Medion hesitated, aware that everyone was still looking at him, then Noon nudged him.
“Look. That’s Prince Synbios.”
He looked down into the crowd, and spotted a cute, wide-eyed brown-haired boy looking back at him. Their eyes met. The air took on a pinkish tinge, went all sparkly, then was suddenly filled with little hearts and rose petals.
Medion blinked, stared, and finally looked around suspiciously, before grabbing Noon by the collar and lifting him to eye height.
“Cut it out.”
Noon blinked innocently. “What?”
“Get rid of them,” Medion said meaningfully.
The braided wizard looked sulky again, but he waved his hand and the rose petals, hearts and sparkles disappeared. Medion dropped him.
“That’s better. Now kindly stop trying to fix me up with another guy. I’m not interested.” Noon stuck his tongue out.
“Well, I’ll have him if you don’t want him.” He received another glare. “Everybody told me you were supposed to be this nice, kindly, quiet type.”
Medion shrugged. “After living with my stepfamily, I have a lot of spare anger to burn off.”
Noon sweatdropped at this, then grinned nervously. Medion looked back at Synbios again, and the violins started.
“Noon – “
“That wasn’t me!” The wizard squeaked indignantly, and pointed at the orchestra. Medion snorted quietly, and stepped down into the throng.
Medion was quite enjoying himself.
He hadn’t meant to, partly because he’d been so sure he was going to hate it, and mainly because he was trying not to give Noon the satisfaction. But the bad mood wore off after a while. The food here was better than any of the scraps Domaric and his brothers left him, and he kept drawing admiring looks from the women.
They weren’t *too* interested though, much to his relief. They’d all drooled when he’d walked in, but after a moment weighing up the mysterious stranger against the prince’s good looks, money and a good chance of getting to be queen, they’d all turned their attention back to Synbios. *That* was a blessing.
Julian was certainly having a good time. The drink was flowing, and he’d managed to gather quite a flock of serving girls around him to keep it doing so. There was only one thing really spoiling his fun, Medion reflected, and that was that bloody annoying fairy.
Noon was sticking to him like glue, chattering incessantly. Mostly about Prince Synbios’s good points, of which he appeared to have a bottomless reserve. He kept trying to steer Medion towards the prince, as well. Medion was wise to that at once, and evaded the wizard’s efforts every time.
Then Noon disappeared. On reflection he should have been suspicious about that, but he was too busy being relieved. He took advantage of the peace and quiet, and went to hunt for Julian again, in the hope that a drunken Julian would be at least a slightly better conversationalist than that obsessive wizard.
He located him after a while, and his friend looked up at him with that fuzzy kind of satisfaction that only comes from being thoroughly plastered. He wasn’t quite horizontal, but he was getting there. Julian was sprawled across the table, arms and legs all over the place. He wasn’t alone, since there were a lot of lords and ladies around him in various states of drunkenness, but he was giving them all some good competition.
Medion was slightly tipsy, but drink didn’t get to him like it did Julian.
“Enjoying yourself?” He asked. Julian nodded, smirking.
“Well, don’t get too comfortable. It’s a quarter past eleven, and the demented fairy said we had to be out of here by midnight or be doomed to a life two feet high and on a leash.”
Julian snickered, and returned to his drink. Then a quiet voice spoke behind them.
Medion jumped and spun around. It was a big ballroom, but he was still worried about Domaric, Mageron or Arrawnt spotting him, and it was making him edgy. But when he turned around he found himself nose-to-nose with Prince Synbios. This was almost as bad, and surprise made him stumble backwards in alarm. Then he caught sight of Noon leaning against the wall a little way off with a smug expression on his face, and he scowled. The clever little sod had realised the other tactics weren’t working and had somehow managed to bring Synbios to *him*.
He bowed. “Your highness.”
The boy wrinkled his nose and waved him off. “Oh please. I can’t stand titles.” Then he smiled, green eyes sparkling. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t contain my curiosity. Who *are* you?”
“I’m… no one you need concern yourself with, your highness.”
This only seemed to serve to make him *more* curious, unfortunately, because he edged closer.
“Really? Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll stick around, because I need to get away from those women for a while.” He shuddered. “They’re like predators, all trying to get the meat. That young woman that came with King Benetram keeps looking at me like she wants to rip my clothes off.”
Medion blinked, unsure as to whether that was a joke, and smiled nervously. Smiling wasn’t something he had a lot of practice at, but he managed it.
“If I wasn’t supposed to be choosing someone to marry tonight, they’d be after you too,” Synbios continued conversationally. He moved forward again, reaching for a drink, then somehow his foot became entangled with one of Julian’s haphazardly positioned limbs. He tripped, went flying, and landed squarely in Medion’s arms with a cry of surprise.
“Oh! I’m so terribly sorry!”
Medion flushed a little. “Really, your highness. It’s all right.” Synbios squirmed in his arms a little, and looked up, smiling into Medion’s eyes.
“I do apologise. I’m so clumsy. I don’t know what you must think of me.”
Medion found that he couldn’t speak for some reason, so forbore to comment, and simply nodded. Synbios got his balance and opened his mouth again, but whatever he was about to say was interrupted.
“Synbios!” A voice called from the front of the room. The prince squirmed around again to find Conrad watching him, standing before his throne and frowning sternly. “Synbios, what in Elbesem’s name are you doing?”
Synbios looked down at himself, still with Medion’s arms around him in an incredibly incriminating manner, but made no effort to remove himself, and called back, eyes brimming with innocence. “Nothing, father.” He turned the mischeivous smile on Medion again.
Julian snorted with laughter, and had another swig. Then, without warning, all the lights went out.
Synbios yanked himself away from Medion in surprise, and many of the women shrieked. The lights flickered again, then there was a crackle of lightning in the middle of the room. The revellers surged away from this dangerous spot, forming a circle of clear floor in the middle of the dance hall. In its centre, a figure appeared. People gasped.
The tall stranger had long silver hair with a white streak. He spun, clothes swirling, to survey the room, and Medion noticed that his eyes were different colours – one was purple, one red, and for some reason he really didn’t feel like knowing each was adorned with matching eyeshadow. His skin was unhealthily pale, and he carried a long red staff.
At the front of the room, King Conrad was still on his feet. He took a step forward.
“What is this?” he asked, sounding confused. “Who are you, and for what reason do you interrupt our celebration?”
“Not just the celebration,” Medion thought he heard the prince mutter under his breath.
The stranger narrowed his odd eyes. “I am Fiale!” He looked down at a piece of paper in his hand, and his eyes widened slightly. Then they narrowed again. “The… “ he growled this part as if reluctant, “…Evil fairy. You will regret the disservice you have done me, Conrad.”
More gasps. In the crowd, hands flew to mouths, because this is the sort of thing extras do when the evil wizard makes an entrance. Conrad frowned.
Fiale stalked forward and planted himself in front of the king, doing an admirable job of looking extremely pissed off.
“To this ball you invited everyone of importance in the kingdom, and some,” he cast a scornful look towards Medion and Julian, and waved his staff at them, “who are obviously not. Yet you neglected to request the presence of I, the great Fiale!”
Canrad blinked. “But I’ve never *heard* of y – “
“Silence!” Fiale snapped. He pointed his staff at the king instead. “You have insulted me, and yes, made a fool of me also. No one makes a fool of Fiale of Bulzome. You will pay dearly… with your life!”
There was another collective gasp. Julian looked around irritably, swishing his beer around, and wished they’d all stop doing that.
“But first,” the so-called evil fairy continued, “I am going to take something precious from you. I want to see you suffer. Your daughter!” He spun to face Princess Margaret, who shrank away from him. At once, Prince Synbios darted to her side.
“You will do no such thing!” He cried angrily, his green eyes flashing. Noon had reappeared next to Medion, and he swooned.
“Isn’t he *brave*?”
“Shut up, fruitcake,” Julian muttered from somewhere on the surface of the table. Noon promptly took the tankard of beer from him and poured it over his head. Julian didn’t appear to notice.
“I shall put a curse on your daughter,” Fiale was saying, glaring around at the assembled guests. “She will fall into a deep sleep, and shall never wake from it!”
Everyone gasped again.
“Shut the hell up,” Julian muttered again to the world in general, putting a hand to his head. “Anyway, isn’t this the wrong story?” He tried to take a drink from the tankard again, and found it empty. In his inebriated state, he apparently found it difficult to assimilate this, because he sat staring into it with a confused expression on his face.
“That is, unless a young man with a pure heart who also happens to be her true love happens to come along and kiss her,” Fiale finished with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Pretty bloody stupid putting that part in, but it’s in my contract.” Then he pointed the staff at Margaret. Synbios snatched a sword from a surprised, nearby guard, and leapt at him, with a cry of something unintelligible . Unfortunately this took him into the path of the spell, and the bolt of light hit him. Mid-leap, he was flung backwards and slumped to the ground, sliding a little way on the polished floor before becoming still.
“Synbios!” Conrad cried, leaping from the podium and running to the prone form of his son. Fiale looked mildly astonished, then shrugged.
“Oh well. He’ll do. Now you.” He raised the staff again, pointing it at Conrad this time, and prepared for another spell. He didn’t get there. A quiet voice spoke behind him.
“Kimi ni urami wa nai ga...”
He turned around, only to be confronted by a young man with long blonde hair pointing (of all things) a poker at him. He looked him up and down interestedly, then put his head on one side.
“No resentment for what?”
Medion hesitated for a moment, slightly thrown. Then he shrugged.
“Whatever you’ve done. The crazy fairy was right. It *is* a terrible battle cry.” Then he lunged.
Fiale parried with his staff, but Medion was fast. Fiale suddenly discovered he didn’t have time for spellcasting, and with a staff against a sword – well, a very long, pointed housekeeping utensil that seemed to serve as a sword surprisingly well – he was at a disadvantage. He took the next best way out.
Medion blinked, almost losing his balance as the victim of his Pentegram attack disappeared halfway though it. Then he glared.
“I am leaving, for now,” Fiale’s scornful voice echoed around the room. “You have been lucky this time. Conrad, your life is spared, today at least. Good luck waking the boy!” Evil laughter echoed, then faded into silence.
“Who writes his lines?” Noon muttered quietly from somewhere in the crowd. “The guy is *so* cliché…”
Everyone stared at Conrad and Synbios.
Conrad glanced up at Medion, looking suddenly weary.
“Thank you, whoever you are. You saved my life.”
“Did I? Well, then, my pleasure, your majesty.” Medion made a courtly bow, then realised everyone was looking at him. He hid the poker in embarrassment. Damn, it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t afford a sword. He looked down at the prince.
“Is he all right?”
Conrad rubbed his face tiredly. “I would rather my life have been taken than have this befall my son. He’s alive. But it seems that Fiale spoke the truth. We can’t wake him. Not unless… “ he frowned. “Did he say… a… young man… had to… kiss…?”
Everyone sweatdropped. Then, all at once, the air was filled with little blue sparkles. Medion shot a look at Noon, but the wizard was looking as surprised as he was. The sparkles resolved themselves into a small figure; a child appeared from nowhere, a little boy with silver hair and huge golden eyes and a ponytail, holding a silver staff taller than he was.
“Fear not, good people,” he said, with a bow far more graceful than any normal child would be capable of. “For I am the holy child, a messenger of light, and I saw your plight. I can alleviate this cur – mmf!” He blinked, apparently very surprised at having Noon’s hand suddenly clamped over his mouth.
Noon laughed nervously, but did not release him.
“Er, what he means is, while Fiale’s magic is, alas!” he placed the back of his free hand against his forehead in a distressed-maiden gesture, “far too powerful for us good fairies to undo, we can help you nevertheless.”
The boy made a puzzled noise from under Noon’s hand, and pulled it away.
“But Noon, I *can* undo the – mmmffmmf!“ Noon promptly covered his mouth again, and smiled brightly.
“Please excuse the boy, Gracia is too young to quite understand the complexities of – “
The boy yanked the hand away, a little more forcefully this time, and fixed the wizard with a long-sufferingly patient look.
“I’m two hundred years *older* than y – “ he began. Noon glared at him.
“Will you shut up?” He said in a not-so-quiet whisper, then seemed to see fit to add, “please, Gracia-sama? I’m trying to engineer a happy ending here.”
Gracia relaxed at once, and stepped back. “Well, why didn’t you just say so?” he smiled at Conrad, who looked baffled.
“Can you people help my son or not?”
Noon nodded, and stood from where he’d crouched next to Gracia.
“Indeed we can, your majesty. You see, I know the exact person to break the spell. A young man of pure heart, who – “
“You want a *boy* to kiss my *son*?” Conrad asked incredulously. Noon’s eyes narrowed.
“Yes. You got a problem with that?”
Conrad stepped back, holding up his hands in surrender. “Not if it saves his life.”
Noon beamed, and beckoned to Medion. “Excellent. Come along then.”
“You cannot be serious,” Medion said flatly. From under a nearby table, Julian gave another soft snort of laughter.
“Oh, just go with it, Med. The kid’s kinda cute.” Then he chuckled again. Medion glared, and nudged the sprawled form with his foot.
“I am not taking advice from someone who spends most of his life horizontal.” He caught the twitch of Noon’s mouth, and hastily corrected himself, “I meant drunk.” Julian snorted with laughter again, and rolled over, actually managing to hit his mouth with the tankard, and even more amazing, get some drink into it.
“Um,” Gracia said uncertainly, fidgeting with the Besem staff. “Noon, are you quite sure you know what you’re – “
Noon turned and gave him a brilliant smile.
“Trust me,” he said. Everyone sweatdropped again, especially Gracia. Medion looked doubtful.
King Conrad stepped forward to face him.
“Please, I implore you. I would do anything for my son. My children are the most important things in the world to me.” He glanced over at Margeret, who was sobbing quietly. “Do not be embarrassed. If you can wake him, I will bestow upon you anything you wish. Money, a knighthood, half of my kingdom, even my daughter’s hand in marriage… anything you request.”
Medion rubbed the back of his head, apparently considering.
“You planned this,” he told Noon accusingly. “You just wanted to see me and Synbios make out.”
The wizard placed a hand on his chest in the classic ‘Moi?’ gesture. Medion sighed. What he wouldn’t give to be at home doing chores right now…
“Well, I… “ he thought of a compromise. “I’ll give it a try, but only if I can do so in private. I’m not doing anything in front of all these people.”
Noon looked almost comically horrified. “Even me? But I’m the one who – “
“That’s exactly why I don’t want you there.”
Conrad nodded at once. “Of course!” He looked at the wizard. “You’re sure this will work?”
“Yes,” Noon said sulkily.
“I still think it would be easier if I – “
“Gracia, if I have to tell you again, I’m going to throw that accursed staff into the ornamental fishpond.”
Gracia looked shocked, and clutched his staff protectively. “Noon-san!”
Conrad motioned to a couple of guards – who had been mysteriously absent during Fiale’s little visit, Medion thought, casting yet another suspicious look at his supposed fairy godfather – who lifted Prince Synbios gingerly and carried him from the room. Conrad nodded at Medion. “If you can do this for me, I swear on my honour as king that anything you ask of me, I will grant you.”
Medion looked a little taken aback. He hadn’t realised the man was actually serious. “I… well, thank you.”
“I don’t even know your name.”
Conrad nodded and left the room, just as there was a roar of anger from somewhere in the crowd and a large frame shoved its way through to the front. Domaric’s furious face appeared.
“I told you it was him,” Arrawnt’s drawl came from behind him. Mageron was nowhere in sight, but after all this was a palace. There were mirrors. Whenever Mageron passed a mirror, he was there for the week.
A look of pure terror passed over Medion’s face, and he turned and raced after Conrad with amazing speed.
“You will regret disobeying me, ungrateful brat!!” His stepfather bellowed after him.
“And if it doesn’t work, try tongues!” Noon added hopefully.
Conrad showed the nervous-seeming Medion into Synbios’s bedroom. He wouldn’t have been inclined to trust the boy, but the holy child seemed to find him trustworthy, and that was all the recommendation anyone needed. “I’ll be waiting for you. I pray you can wake him.”
Medion nodded, and Conrad left and closed the door.
Ten minutes later, Conrad was pacing up and down in front of the rows of silent guests.
“What could possibly be taking so long?” he demanded. “I should go in there and – “
“I really wouldn’t do that,” Noon purred contentedly. He was looking insufferably smug about something. Conrad looked at him for a long moment, then shook his head as if dismissing something and continued pacing.
After another minute, the door opened and Synbios and Medion appeared.
There was cheering, again the task of the miscellaneous extras. Conrad ran forward to embrace his son, and everyone cheered some more. Domaric shot daggers at them. He obviously wasn’t terribly impressed that his stepson was suddenly the flavour of the month, but with all this royal commotion, seemed to have resigned himself to having to wait to get his word in.
“Are you all right? What took so long?” Conrad asked. Synbios blushed a little.
“I’m fine. Um, well… we were talking, that’s all.”
“Oh, sure. *Talking*,” Noon muttered. Everyone ignored him. Conrad looked immensely relieved, although at which of Synbios’s answers wasn’t quite clear. He embraced the boy again, then turned to Medion.
“As I promised. Anything you desire is yours. What will it be?”
Medion appeared to think about it for a few seconds. Then he took a deep breath.
“Your majesty, I – “
“Ah, excuse me,” a bright voice interrupted them. They all swung around to glare at Noon.
“What *now*?” Conrad asked, sounding strained.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but I… recently… found something that really might interest you.” The wizard reached into his sleeve and pulled out a very long scroll, which promptly unrolled right the way across the floor, the end bouncing up against Conrad’s feet. He inspected it with exaggerated care, then cleared his throat.
“Ah yes. Here it is. The ancient laws of the kingdom of Flagard. Under the Rewardal of Heroes Act 182, subsection three paragraph eight clearly states the following: ‘Any brave hero who doth save a child of royal blood from a magical curse shall be rewarded immediately thereafter by a knighthood, a goodly share of the kingdom and their hand in marriage.’” He performed some sort of yo-yo-esque flick of his wrist that somehow ended in the scroll neatly rolled in his hand again, tucked it back into his sleeve and looked expectant.
There was a *very* long silence. Conrad hesitated, and the assembled guests all looked at him. For some reason, neither Synbios or Medion looked very surprised. Medion merely watched expressionlessly, and Synbios just looked as if he was fighting a blush.
“It… says that?” Conrad said at last.
“Indeed. Signed by your own grandfather and his council, I believe, your majesty, and his father before him.” The wizard smiled innocently. Conrad shook his head.
“Well then, we shall give him the princess’s hand. He must truly be of good heart and mind or he would not have broken the curse, so I am sure he will make an admirable – “
“That is not what the law says, your majesty.”
Conrad looked exasperated. “Well, what would you have me do? Marry my son to another man? That’s simply ridiculous. I won’t hear of it.”
“Sire, even you cannot simply dismiss the laws of this kingdom without serious consequences. To do so would be shunning your forefathers and the very foundations of this kingdom, and thus – “
“All right! I understand that. But I’m sure there must be a way around it. I will not have my son made a mockery of. It isn’t as if we would even – “
Conrad turned. “What is it, Synbios?”
The prince was *definitely* blushing now. “Um, well, father… the thing is… I mean, if that’s what the law says and all… I… don’t mind.” He tried to hide behind Medion.
Conrad froze, as if he was sure he must have misheard.
“No.” Synbios edged slightly closer to Medion again, despite being quite close already. “Actually… he’s… um… he’s… kinda cool.”
“…’Kinda cool’?” Conrad echoed. He looked rather like someone had hit him with a brick. “Synbios, that is *not* a good reason to – “
Synbios was suddenly serious. “Father, you said I had to choose a fiance tonight. You seem to have forgotten that being of pure heart was not the only condition Medion had to have to wake me. He had to be my true love, my intended, as well.” He gave his father a moment to take that in. “And really, if that evil fairy comes back, we’ll need someone to protect us. To protect me. Medion can do some amazing things with his poker.”
Noon stared at him in disbelief, and then doubled over with helpless laughter. Synbios looked at him in puzzlement, then suddenly grinned, eyes dancing with amusement as he realised what he’d said.
“Well, he can. Although maybe we should get him a proper sword. I honestly couldn’t see myself with any of those women, father. They just wanted my money.” He thought about it. “As you said yourself, Medion is of pure heart and mind, or the fairy’s prediction wouldn’t have come true. And my true love.” He tried to think of more reasons. “He’s a good kisser as well.”
Medion thwapped Synbios’s shoulder warningly, but his eyes were smiling.
“I really did not need to know that,” Conrad said weakly. He shook his head. “Synbios, are you really… are you *sure* that you want this?”
“Surer that I’ve ever been about anything.” His son looped his arm into Medion’s, and looked hopeful. Conrad transferred his gaze to Medion.
Medion bowed as best he could with Synbios attached to him. “You said I could ask you for anything, your majesty. If I could have anything, this would be it.”
“Hold on, you’ve changed your tune,” Noon snapped. “Fifteen minutes ago you wouldn’t give him a second – “
“A lot can happen in fifteen minutes,“ Medion replied, deadpan. Noon immediately sniggered, and Conrad looked slightly ill.
“I didn’t need to know that either.”
“Father, we’re serious. We’ve discussed it, and we decided it’s what we both want.”
Conrad sighed, glancing around at the variations on the theme of ‘incredulous’ that was the faces of the rest of the upper classes. “Synbios, you know I would do anything to make you happy… yes, even this. And with that law as well… it is the only obvious answer. But – “
Synbios yelled with delight and flung his arms around his potential husband’s neck.
“ – BUT,” Conrad continued. “I don’t know where we’re going to find a priest that will be willing to marry you.”
“Well,” Noon chimed in helpfully, “it seems you’re in luck there, because,” his hands fell onto Gracia’s shoulders, “this young man is far holier than any priest and certainly more than qualified to perform the ceremony.” He beamed. Gracia started, staring up at him.
“Noon! I’m really not sure that I should – “
“Look at their faces,” Noon told him. Gracia did, took in Synbios’s hopeful expression and Medion, who was actually *smiling* a little, and then groaned and dropped his head into his hands.
“I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this,” he said, sounding slightly muffled. “All right.” Noon smiled and raised a finger.
“You know, we should make the wedding as soon as possible, before the alcohol wears off and people really start to object. How about now? Everyone’s already here, Gracia isn’t busy, we’re having a big party – “
“That’s absurd!” Conrad snapped at him. “This whole thing is too surreal for us to take in properly right now, and – “
“That’s a wonderful idea!” Synbios cried, ignoring him. “And we can make it a double wedding, because we all know Margaret’s going to choose Lord Tristus, since she’s already pregnant with his – “
“Synbios!” Margaret squealed. Synbios put his hand over his mouth guiltily.
Margaret blushed. “Um, yes, father… I choose Lord Tristus. And I think this ball would make a wonderful wedding party.”
Conrad looked stunned. “You… you mean you already – oh, damn it all, at least that means I know I’ll be getting heirs out of one of you. Fine. I give in.” He flung his hands in the air. “You can both get married.” Then he frowned and looked at Synbios. “Wait… you said you and Medion had discussed this. When did you – “
“Oh, that.” Synbios scuffed one of his feet on the floor. “Well, I… kind of already knew about that law, and so when he woke me, I told him about it and – “
“You knew about it? I’ve never seen you very keen on sniffing out ancient documents in the library.”
“Actually, he told me about it.” Synbios pointed at Noon. “Earlier this evening. Just before he told me what a nice butt Medion had, and to go and talk to him.”
Medion gave him an indignant look, before turning it into a glare at Noon. Conrad looked from one to the other of them in puzzlement.
“Why would he do that? Unless he – unless he had some sort of – “ his eyes widened. “He was trying to – and you went along with – oh, Synbios, please… tell me you didn’t jump into the path of that spell on purpose.”
Synbios looked hurt. “Of course I didn’t! I was trying to protect my sister! Although…” his voice lowered to a mumble, “…getting cursed so Medion could wake me up was an added bonus which by law would mean that I could – “
“Synbios! Do you have any idea how utterly *dangerous* that was! What if it hadn’t *worked* – “
“Well, it did, and now I don’t have to spend the rest of my life with one of those vultures.” The prince beamed. “So, are we getting married already?”
“I can’t believe I just agreed to this, and what is going to happen to my reputation I have no idea – “
Noon listened to Conrad bemoaning his fate for a few moments longer, and then turned and pushed his way out though the crowd of upper classes, making sure to bump Arrawnt hard as he passed him. He was forced to step over Julian, who was by now flat out and had missed all the good stuff. Gracia could be trusted to start the ceremonies, so he sidled off into a dark corner and waited, watching the proceedings.
It took a while. Longer than he’d expected. He found himself tapping a foot, but things soon got more interesting when the hastily-put-together marriage ceremony ended and Synbios decided to show everyone just exactly how *much* he really liked Medion.
Eventually, Fiale appeared, skulking behind him out of sight.
“Well?” he snapped.
Noon, smirking, slipped him a backhand.
“There you go. Nice job.”
“Pleasure doing business with you. Although I wouldn’t have minded making a pass at his highness myself,” Fiale remarked, counting the money.
The Evil Fairy nodded, pocketing the cash, and stepped away as if to leave, then glanced back, tipping his head on one side. “Hey, Noon. Sure you won’t consider coming back to work for the powers of darkness?”
Noon thought about it, and shrugged. “Naw. This is more fun.” He gestured towards Medion and Synbios, and grinned.
“I have to say I don’t understand what’s in it for you.” Fiale frowned.
“You really want to know?” The wizard leaned forward conspiratorially and, cupping his hand around his mouth for secrecy’s sake, murmered, “I installed closed-circuit security cameras in their honeymoon suite.” Then he leant back again, and smirked.
Fiale quirked an eyebrow, and smiled slightly.
“Really.” He considered, tapping an index finger against his thin lips, his gaze sliding over to the happy couple. The kiss was starting to get interesting. “Hmm… could I get a couple copies of those videos?”
Noon snickered. “Sure thing.”
Fiale nodded. “I know Basanda and Dessheren would like a look. Goriate, I’m not sure. But I sure as hell do. So, what’s your next job?”
The braided wizard shrugged. “Not sure. To tell you the truth, I was on commission for this.”
“Really? Someone hired you to hook those two up? Who?”
Noon tapped the side of his nose. “Confidential, I’m afraid.”
Fiale nodded again. “Very well. Don’t forget those videos.”
“As if I could.”
Then the clock struck midnight.
For some reason no one else could fathom, Medion jumped and pulled away from Synbios, and Julian sat bolt upright from his prone position on the floor. Unfortunately for Julian, he was under the table, and hit his head on the underside. He contributed a little, pained noise before sliding back into blessed unconsciousness again.
Medion was looking around for Noon. The wizard waved to him, strolling over from somewhere in the shadows.
“It’s all right. I was only joking about turning you SD. You’d be cute, but you’re cuter this way.” He winked. “As an extra bonus, I’m even going to let you keep the outfit. You don’t get that with most fairy godparents, you know.”
“Thanks,” Medion said dryly. Beside him, Synbios was looking annoyed at having had to stop the kiss just as it was getting good.
“Oh, consider it a bonus because it’s my first job. I’m not used to this lovebird stuff. I was a card-carrying member of the dark side until last week, but really, magic curses are just *so* last season.”
Medion snorted. “So I got the reject. It figures.”
“Look, have we had enough of the chitchat already?” Synbios demanded, tugging on his arm. “There’s far better things you can be doing with that mouth than talking.“
Noon fought the laughter, and let Synbios drag Medion away. He knew where they were going, after all, and it was only for his own benefit. Margaret and Tristus had vanished as well. Conrad was on his throne, head propped on his hand, staring into the distance. He was probably trying to figure out what the hell had just happened today that had ended in him allowing his son to get hitched to another man.
Noon felt a tug on his sleeve, and looked down to find pupilless golden eyes staring up at him.
“Oh, hello, Gracia.”
“You could’ve warned me.” Gracia smiled up at him, taking all the sting out of it. “I’m not sure how you managed to pull this off, but it seems to be in their best interests. Not that I believe that was your concern for a moment.”
Noon gave him an injured look, then smiled back. “Well, they have the blessing of an innovator, and I’m sure that can only stand them in good stead for married life.”
Gracia giggled. “I can’t wait to find out what everyone will make of this tomorrow.” He glanced over to the door Medion and Synbios had just vanished through, and heaved a sigh. “Sometimes I *really* wish I wasn’t stuck as a child forever. I’m never going to have anyone.” He looked up again. “But we all have our destinies to follow, I suppose.”
“Indeed we do, Gracia-sama. If you don’t mind my saying so, though, you are irresistably cute like that.”
“Am I?” Gracia thought about it, putting a finger to his lips and pouting adorably. “Well, I’m not sure that makes up for it, but I appreciate your trying.” He looked over into the ballroom, and pointed the Besem staff at the unconscious figure under one of the tables. “Are you going to rescue Julian? I’m sure Medion and Synbios will find some position in the palace for him tomorrow, but there’s no one to get him home tonight.”
“If you’ll excuse my bluntness, Gracia-sama, no I’m not. He called me a fruitcake.”
“You *are* a fruitcake. But you have a good heart under there.”
“Thank you. I suppose.”
The boy bowed to him solemnly. “My pleasure. Well, I’m sure he’ll survive. Now if you’ll excuse me, it is a *very* long way past my bedtime. Give the happy couples my regards.” He vanished.
Noon glanced over at one corner of the ballroom. Medion’s family hadn’t, apparently, taken well to his choice of spouse, and even less well to not being able to grill him over.