Titolo: All the stars are a-bloom with flowers
Fandom: Free!
Personaggi: Rei/Nagisa, OC
Genere: commedia, fluff, fantasy
Avvertimenti: AU, in inglese, pre-shounen-ai (???)
Parole: 4001
Note: questa è per la M12, quella col prompt sui fiori, il fiore che ho scelto è la rosa della Cina, e il significato è "riconciliazione".
E sai cosa? Sono soddisfatta. Mi piace, per una volta. <3 e la citazione c'entra quasi un cazzo ma amo troppo il Piccolo Principe >_<


It's been a while since that little scoundrel last showed his face around.
It's quite a windy day, his glasses dance on his nose as his eyes squint - he should keep them open at all times, since observing is his job. Rei is quite used to scanning faces as people walk along the dusty road, especially those that ask for permission to enter the palace. It is always quite hard to catch all of them as they pass by, especially in market days, but it's specifically hard to keep the entrance safe when wind and sand mix up, trying to get into his purple, attentive eyes. It would only take a small distraction to disrupt the guard’s work- because no, of course nobody would be able to get past the first hall if they did not have permission to, but Rei would get an earful and would be injected with so much shame he would not be able to show his face for days. At least, that’s how he’s been doing his job since he was switched to guarding the palace’s entrance. Before, he was a soldier in training and nothing more. Only when he defended the Sultan from an attack did his career really move. Although, of course, there’s still a long way up to reach the top.
And he wants to reach it. The top tier guards are those who enjoy the highest privileges (aside from the Sultan and his council, of course) and are granted a lavish salary for it.
But then there are moments like this, that take his focus away from his job: despite grains of sand, the sunlight and specks of dust moved by the wind, his attention is finally caught by a small figure walking fast and curved, a few steps away from him, covered with a colorful cloak wrapped around their head too, and letting only an arm come out from under it. Which is not odd in itself, but what grabs Rei's attention is that he knows that figure, he memorized those hands in one afternoon- when the servant he grew fond of mended wounds he gained separating two rascals in a street fight that had escalated. And that is only the lesser thing that could happen during the work.
He remembers the servant's light touch, the carefulness he put into cleaning Rei's wounds, and his sincere smile framed by a halo of fuzzy blond hair, his sing-song voice and rosy cheeks as his hands cleaned the bruises. “You looked so heroic, Rei-chan,” he said. Rei memorized every inflection of that voice. After all, Nagisa the servant started it, talking his ear off until Rei felt compelled to respond to all the questions and stories Nagisa would fill him up with. Which was probably a mistake, given how the little (although they are the same age) servant latched onto him even more after being given attention.
And that person under the cloak is definitely Nagisa, that is his figure, the small steps he takes, and Rei can almost see him moving under it even though the fabric is quite thick and a good shield against people's gazes. Which might be an advantage for Nagisa, but it also has its downsides, since it prevents him from being able to spot the hand grabbing at the cloth. He squeals realizing it at the very last moment, and tugs at it down again, protecting his face. Rei only manages to get a glimpse of startled magenta eyes which confirm him the suspect's identity, before he escapes through the crowd.
Rei keeps his hand lifted, and then looks at it for a few seconds, wondering just why he'd moved so fast, faster than his own thoughts. Anybody would have been startled by someone ripping their cloak away, but what reasons did Nagisa have for hiding, to begin with? The first theory in Rei's mind is that Nagisa did something illegal. That makes it Rei's duty to follow and question him, but on the other hand... the more he thinks about it, the more the idea that that is not the case grows strong in his mind.
He does not know every recess of the servant's soul, but he knows that the boy is not a criminal. Only a bit of a trickster, and someone who tends to put himself in trouble. Maybe he made a mistake and got himself into something he did not foresee.
Yes, that must be it.
But Rei has no time nor a chance to pursue the boy, given his very important job. And he already distracted himself long enough, so he goes back to his position and looks around to spot an occasional ill-intentioned hooligan, and forces the thought out of his mind. He'll question Nagisa next time.
The next time he encounters Nagisa, it's during the night shift, a few days later, while he walks around town to make sure no sketchy business is happening in dark alleys and no delinquents are trying to trespass or steal horses in the stables. And again, he sees a similar figure, wrapped in a large, dark cloth, wandering around the healer's hut and as far as possible from the torch light, taking a few steps and walking back again in a loop of hesitation.
"Do you need h-" Rei calls out, having sneaked a few steps closer, and his suspicion is once again confirmed when he hears a sharp squeak of surprise come from under the mysterious cloth, and then light steps follow, directed in the opposite direction. It's Nagisa, it's the small servant, now Rei knows it with full certainty. He immediately rushes to the chase, with more and more questions piling up in his head as the little trotting figure struggles to run and keep his cloak on.
The race goes on for a few minutes, as the two speed past the central part of town and reach the outskirts, Nagisa's true habitat. He will definitely know how to disappear among the barrels abandoned in the middle of the street, the abandoned tents and the permanent market place where the poorest try and sell their produce every day. These streets are also darker, for very few people bother with lighting the torches.
But Nagisa does not even need to see clearly. He knows these streets like his pockets as this is where he started, before being picked as a servant and a concubine in the palace. The Sultan saw him dance for coins in the middle of a crowd, one summer day, and immediately became enamored with him.
Before he gets to find a hiding place, though, Rei does manage to reach him and grab his wrist, immediately yanking him back to a halt. Nagisa's voice comes out in a choked gasp, and his eyes glisten from under the hood formed on his head, but his hand rushes to cover his face with the cloth.
"Rei-chan, let me go-!" He tweets alarmed, tugging his wrist back uselessly. "Please, let me go..."
"Why are you running away from me, Nagisa-kun? Why have you been missing from the palace?" Rei pants out, before his eyes scan the smaller figure. "And why in the heavens are you wearing this thing?"
After all, it is not as if Nagisa is one to hide. Quite the opposite, actually, which is the most suspicious thing of all.
"Please, Rei-chan-" Nagisa repeats, whining, and presses the cloth on his face with the utmost despair.
"Why are you hiding your face? I know it's you by now," Rei insists in his inquiry, stepping closer, but Nagisa jumps back as much as his arm will allow.
"Let me go!" He squeaks again, shaking his arm- again, uselessly- before a sob breaks out in the air.
It's inevitable, but Rei's hold around his wrist weakens. However, Nagisa does not seem to try and shake Rei off anymore. Instead, his body trembles and under the hood Rei spots tears glistening with the light coming from the moon.
"Nagisa-kun, why are you crying?" He asks, and something in his chest tugs at him to move closer, gently.
Little childish sobs come muffled from under the cloak, but Rei's grasp tightens again. He knows Nagisa well enough to not rule out the idea that he might be faking to be crying in order to lower Rei's guard and then slither away.
But he stays still, lowering his head, and little hiccups still come from his small shaking figure. Of what could possibly have made Nagisa tear up like that, Rei has no clue. This is the first time he sees the boy cry, and he's seen the servant in very rough spots. He did not cry even when he got flogged for trying to escape the city...
"Nagisa-kun." Rei's voice lowers, and gets to a soft, warm tone. "Is there someone who wants to harm you? Do you need help?"
The hiccups get sharper, while Nagisa curls up tighter between his shoulders, and that's how Rei knows he got it right.
"Nagisa-kun, what happened to your face?" He asks again, now moving his other hand to grab Nagisa's shoulder and carefully sliding the fingers around his wrist up his arm, soothing.
"I don't want you to see me," Nagisa sobs, tensing up, and then holds his breath as he visibly realizes running away won't stop Rei from wanting to know. This guard is always so insistent when his attention is piqued.
"Why?" Rei asks, tempted to remove the hood in a swift move, but unfortunately he already cares enough not to want to lose the servant's trust.
"Y-you'd... hate me," Nagisa finally replies, with a tiny miserable voice, and then the hiccups resume. "You'd hate me and I'd have no friends left..."
Well, 'friend'. Rei did not exactly consider himself Nagisa's friend. Certainly they spent a lot of time together, doing the daily guard round together, chatting and telling each other stories of where they came from, even playing on Rei's off time. But friends...
...Well, yes, that sounds about right, thinking twice about it. But Nagisa's claim is absurd, anyway.
"That is ridiculous," he says. "How could I hate you because of your face? You are a very beautiful boy, Nagisa-kun," he adds without the slightest hint of embarrassment. "I told you before, did I not?"
Nagisa's head shakes from under the hood.
"No, you don't understand..." he mutters, and Rei sighs, already losing his patience.
"Then let me see so I can help!"
"No!"
"Nagisa-kun, I demand you remove your hood!" Rei insists, raising his voice.
"Fine!" Nagisa snaps, and finally draws his hood back against the moonlight. And Rei's eyes immediately go wide with shock.
Nagisa's once smooth, plump skin is now entirely covered with huge buboes and sores, his face dried and wrinkled, while his lips turned chapped and also sore. The only recognizable feature are his eyes, now filled with tears.
Rei's eyelids flutter in confusion and Nagisa pulls the hood up again, covering the lower portion of his face and lowering his gaze.
"There, you saw it. Happy now?" Nagisa mutters, and sniffles.
"What happened?" Rei stutters, completely taken aback.
"Hagputaspellonme," Nagisa mumbles quick, carefully drying his tears under the hood.
"What?"
"A hag! An old sorceress cursed me," the other explains, unwillingly.
Rei frowns, holding his chin in his hand.
"Witches do not do anything to people who didn't wrong them," he mutters, before switching his tone to a scolding one. "Nagisa-kun, what did you do?"
"It was nothing!" Nagisa protests, looking back up at Rei. "I was hungry and I borrowed an apple at the market! I would've paid it back! I didn't know it was a witch's stall!"
Rei's eyes fall closed when he takes a long sigh. Ah, so that's what happened. It's not even that shocking, seeing that outside the palace Nagisa owns absolutely nothing but whatever he gained from dancing on the street. And he tends to be quite impulsive, which is something Rei learnt right away, about him.
"Nagisa-kun... you could have asked me, I would have bought it for you..." he starts out, but Nagisa chirps angrily at him.
"Well, I don't want to be in your debt!"
Rei's eyebrows shoot up again.
"But you were alright with stealing?"
"I... It was just an apple!" Nagisa chirps back, defensive. Under the hood, Rei knows it, he flushed completely red.
"Alright, alright," the guard replies conciliating, and puts his hands forward. "Fine. Do you know where this witch lives?" He asks, turning to a practical tone. "You could give her back the amount of money the apple was worth and ask her to turn your face back to normal."
"...She also knew exactly what she was doing to hurt me... I can't go anywhere with this face! I can't work!" Nagisa moans, hysterically pointing at the face hidden under his hood.
"Yes, that is why we need to solve this problem," Rei says patiently. "Do you know where she lives?" He insists, looking around.
"Yes," Nagisa replies, without sounding too enthusiastic. "But I don't have anything to give her back. And I don't think she's going to make it go away, witches are that spiteful."
"Oh, don't be like that. I'm sure she would listen to me, a royal guard," Rei says, inflating his chest proudly.
"She'd turn you into a camel," Nagisa mutters, however his voice rings lighter and a smile forms on his ruined lips.
Rei shoots him a look, but then sighs placing his hands on his hips. "Is this why you were hanging around the healer's house? Because of your face?" He asks, pointing his thumb towards the center town behind his back. Nagisa hums, nodding.
"Healers can do nothing about curses," Rei points out. "As a matter of fact, medicine will often only make it worse. Let me speak to this witch- maybe if I offer her something to make her forgive you, then she will take the curse off you."
Nagisa blinks, looking up at Rei again with surprise on his face.
"What would you offer?"
"I don't know. Another apple?"
"No, she won't budge. She did it out of spite, because she had many other apples. I know it's not really about the apple. It's about me having tricked her," Nagisa grumbles, crossing his arms under the cloak.
"Nagisa-kun." Rei's voice sounds suspicious again. "Could it be that perhaps you've done other things under her nose before and she happened to catch you this time?"
A silence falls thick and loud between them.
"Oh, heavens, Nagisa-kun! You're a disaster," Rei laments loudly, raising his eyes to the sky. "Of all the people you could go around tricking, you picked the town's sorceress?!"
"Her apples are delicious!" Nagisa protests, pouting.
That is when Rei pinches the bridge of his nose, groaning.
"You... are a devil," he says, suddenly sounding weary.
And then Nagisa whispers, moving closer while still hiding his face.
"Do you hate me?" He asks, and his voice creaks in fear. "Because I keep making troubles and I'm ugly too, now..."
Rei opens an eye looking down confused at the hooded figure making itself small before him.
"Nagisa-kun, I don't hate you. You are my friend, right?" He says, pulling his gentleness from somewhere within him. "You are trouble, but I don't hate you. We just need to find a solution to this problem."
"I'm sorry that I'm trouble..." Nagisa hums, with a sad voice.
"Oh, b-but... I like you like that! My days would be so boring without you wrecking havoc around town," Rei stutters with a nervous twitch of his eyebrow and his cheeks turning pink, looking around to the dark night wrapping the town in. "Go back to the palace and let's wait for tomorrow, then I'll help you."
Nagisa's eye peeps up from under the hood, observing Rei's still quite stern expression.
"You'll really help me, Rei-chan?" He asks low, still not sounding relieved.
"Yes, I'll do what I can," Rei says, looking down at him. "We'll restore your beauty," he hears himself adding.
Somehow, that seems to calm Nagisa enough to nod and turn back to the city, slithering in the night to sneak back into the palace. Rei stands there for a bit, thinking about what he said.
We'll restore your beauty. Aside from the fact that he still does not know how... it sounds different in his mind, now.
When he goes back to sleep, he thinks about it, and about how he seemed to have no control over his words. Weird.
The next morning, Nagisa is in the servitude's room, once again wrapped up in his cloak and peeking around to make sure nobody saw his face until he spots Rei at the door. That's when he jumps up on his feet and trots towards Rei, with his eyes glittering with relief.
"Oh, good! Rei-chan, you'll help me, right? The Sultan asked of me later today, and... I cannot go to him like this!" He squeaks urgently, grabbing Rei's hand. "Did you think of some way to make her lift the curse?"
Rei looks down at his hand trapped between Nagisa's, and then back at his eyes again.
"I think flowers would be good. If you apologize to her sincerely, give her the apple's money's worth and flowers, and if I'm there with you, she might change her mind. It's worth trying, and I don't think she'll put another curse on you while I'm there. Does that sound good?"
Nagisa looks down at his feet, and thinks for a few seconds.
"Let's try," he hums, softly, before looking back up into Rei's purple eyes. "Alright. But don't you have your guard shift...?"
"I'll be on guard in the evening and for the night," Rei says, with a reassuring smile. "Today I'm helping you."
Nagisa takes a long inhale and sighs, with a more confident nod.
He knocks at the woman's hut's door thrice, Nagisa, cowering under the cloak right after and taking a step back, like a child too scared to face a gruff neighbor. Rei looks down at him, finding it oddly easy to soften his gaze when looking at Nagisa, with affection showing on his face.
It instantly disappears, though, when the door opens and a little, pretty old lady glance at both of them.
"What do you want?" She asks, and then smirks down at Nagisa. "Here to steal something else, kid?"
"Ma'am," Rei starts, diplomatic. "This boy is under my responsibility. I apologize for what he did. We have money to repay you, and something else to reconciliate ourselves with you." He looks down at Nagisa, elbowing his side.
"Y-yes, here," the small boy chirps, flushing red under the buboes, and whips a bouquet of flowers from under his cloak, fixing them where they look ruined. "Um. I-I'm sorry, I was very hungry and I didn't think... please, forgive me," he added in a soft, pitiful chirp.
The witch looks down at the pink flowers raising an eyebrow, and then bursts into a sharp laughter.
"You think it's about the apple, boy? You stuck your hands where they didn't belong, multiple times! I cursed your face for a very specific reason, and yes, that is exactly why. Good luck finding anyone who'd fuck you, ya dirty slut," she hisses like a snake, gritting her teeth in her sharp smirk.
"Ma'am," Rei begins again, while Nagisa takes another long sigh of defeat. But his tone is different now, completely devoid of the courtesy he'd filled it with before. His voice and eyes feel cold, and most noticeably his hand rests on the hilt of his sword, but his demeanor stays composed. "I'm afraid I will have to ask again. Take the money and turn the boy's face back to normal. Otherwise you will have to face the Sultan for disfiguring his favorite concubine," he continues, slightly flushing red at the last words, for some reason. It only makes him more upset, to mention it. "The concubines are under the royal guard's protection," he reminds her, sliding a portion of his sword from its sheath. Nagisa eyes it, with his face twisting in fear. This might get out of control...
The witch's eyebrows knit together, and her eyes narrow into slits.
"Are you threatening me, young man?" She hisses, tensing up. "Because I do not respond well to that."
"I would rather not have to repeat myself, ma'am," Rei repeats, icy.
The witch's eyes narrow even more, and tension seems to almost become visible, but Rei does not budge.
And then Nagisa suddenly slides in between them, pushing Rei back, placing himself in front. The guard gasps, surprised.
"It was just a stupid apple! And I'm sorry! I was hungry and I hadn't eaten anything the whole day, but I'm sorry! There's no need to start threatening people and to be so angry!" He bursts out, looking at her with a protective air. "I promise I won't do it again!"
The woman clicks her tongue a few times, eventually straightening her back and sighing with a calmer air. Before pulling Nagisa's hood back she snatches the satchel of money Rei held in his hand, and then her eyes droop as they become empty, while she mouths something with her lips barely moving. Her hand slides down Nagisa's ruined face, until they touch his lips and her own curl in a little, knowing smile. Rei frowns at that, but Nagisa's eyes widen with surprise and then, slowly, relief. He can feel it, his skin smoothing and the buboes retreating slowly, but gradually.
When his face is back to normal, the woman also grabs the bouquet of flowers, and inspects them better.
"Reconciliation," she reads in them, and she scoffs with a smirk. "You know the language of flowers."
Nagisa hums, looking away with a flush.
"I... do. I read some stuff around, you know..." he replies, vague, throwing Rei a glance before his face brightens up with a smile as he looks back at her. "Anyway, thank you!" He chirps, happy, throwing himself into hugging her, and she almost stumbles at that while Rei looks worried again.
"Alright, alright boy, it's not like we're chums now," she grumbles, grabbing Nagisa's shoulders and pushing him back. "Hope I never see you again," she adds with a twitch of her eyebrow. "And you keep an eye on your pet," she tells Rei, with a sarcastic smirk.
Both flush red, but eventually Rei wraps his fingers around Nagisa's wrist, and drags him out leading him back to the palace.
While they get there, a thought comes into Rei's mind.
"Nagisa-kun, you said you studied the language of flowers?" He asks, looking at the shorter boy at his side, who clears his throat and shrugs looking away.
"Um, yes... I was just curious about it, that's it!" He replies, shrugging again while simultaneously blushing all red. "It's not like there's a specific reason for it."
Rei hums, with a small frown.
"I did see you go around with all kinds of flowers, now that I think about it... thought they were for the Sultan..." he mumbles, pursing his lips.
Nagisa looks up at Rei thinking for a few seconds, and then eventually he starts nodding furiously.
"Yes! Yes, exactly, they were for the Sultan!"
"But... I saw you carrying mostly field flowers around," Rei continues, glancing at Nagisa again. "Did you give them to him? They looked a bit simple for the Sultan's rooms."
Nagisa's eyes flutter quickly, and he giggles a bit nervous before trotting ahead. "Aaah, I have to go! See you later, Rei-chan, and thank you!"
Rei slows down, looking at the boy run ahead. Finally his heart begins pumping a bit harder, and warmth stirs up in his chest.
A nice idea flashes across his mind: he might take a walk out of town on his own and go looking for flowers, tomorrow.
 
 
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