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1000 Gifts

Lanjelin


Once upon a time in a happy and wealthy kingdom, a little prince was born. The king, Treize, and his spouse, Zechs, were overcome with joy since they had wanted an heir for a very long time. Now, since you remember your biology lessons, you wonder, of course, how on Earth two men could have a child? Well, this is a fairy tale my friends, and in those, babies are born in the most peculiar ways, like from flowers, or get delivered by storks and whatnot.

Anyway, the kings named the child Heero, for no other reason than that they liked the sound of it. He grew up to be a very beautiful young man, with silky dark brown hair, pearly white skin, and the most captivating cobalt blue eyes ever seen. Princes and princesses kept trying to catch his interest, but none succeeded, since the prince valued intelligence. To get rid of them, he developed a glare that sent most people on their way, without him having to actually talk to them. As his seventeenth birthday neared, his parents began to worry.

"Treize, beloved, what shall we do?" Zechs said to his husband one evening.

"He hasnít shown any interest in his suitors yet, and he just keeps scowling at us when we try to bring it up. Not to mention the way he treats the court!"

"Well," Treize answered, "We shall think of something. Now, come to bed, and let us save our worries until tomorrow."

A week thereafter the prince turned seventeen, and that day a proclamation was made. The kings had decided that next year prince Heero was going to choose his spouse. The suitors were to bring gifts, and the suitor that brought the gift that pleased the prince most, would be the one he married.

Now, if you knew the prince well (which no one did by the way), you could see the fury in his face. How could they think that he would marry anyone just because they brought him a gift? When he chose the one to marry, it would be someone who was honest, as well as intelligent, and it wasnīt very likely that such a person would take up this ridiculous challenge. Well, letís just see what they would do when he said that none of the gifts pleased him! At that thought a smirk appeared on his face, leading the less than intelligent courtiers to believe that he approved.

His parents knew what he thought about it though, and discussed it the same evening.

"Zechs, dearest, do you think we have gone too far?"

"Of course not, beloved. We are not really going to force him to get married after all. This is just a good way of bringing a lot of suitors here.

"Of course, but..."

"But what?"

"Maybe we should have told Heero that?"

One year later, the suitors had all gathered in the palace to deliver their gifts. They were 999 in all, and they had searched the world for gifts to give to the beautiful prince. But not all who desired him were there. Outside the palace sat a young boy dressed in black, with a long chestnut braid tossed over his shoulder, looking up at the majestic building with a deep sorrow in his eyes. He had loved the prince for a very long time, always watching him when he rode out, which he did quite often trying to escape from his persistent admirers.

"Well, hello there Duo, youíre not your usual cheerful self today, are you?"

At the sound of the voice, Duo whirled around and found himself standing face to face with a girl a few years older than himself. She was also dressed in black with a braid falling down her back; only she had blonde hair.

"Do I know you?" He asked suspiciously.

"No, but that doesnít matter. Now, why donít you tell me whatís wrong so I can help you?"

"There is nothing you can do," he answered gloomily.

"You never know! I might have some really good advice for you", she said with a smile.

Duo looked at her suspiciously.

"Why do you want to know anyway?"

The blonde girl just rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. Being a godmother wasn't as easy as she had thought it would be...

"Look, it's for your own good, understand? Just tell me and get it over with."

In the face of such persistence Duo relented. Besides, if there was even the smallest chance that she could help him...

"I love the prince," he said, "And today he will choose the one to marry. I think he was forced to do it, but he will marry the suitor who brings the gift that pleases him the most.

"Youíd better hurry to the castle with your gift then, or he might choose someone else!" she answered. Duo gave the girl a mournful look.

"Iím just a poor shepherd, and havenít got anything to give him. Nothing but my heart."

"Well, why donít you give him your heart then?"

"But itís such a common gift, and all the other gifts will be so much more interesting!"

"That may be so, but itís the best gift you can give the one you love. And if you do as I say, the prince will surely choose you!"

Then she leant forward and whispered something in his ear. Duo still looked hesitant when she straightened and smiled at him.

"Are you sure this is going to work?" He asked.

"You can count on it!" The girl smiled at him again. "Youíd better hurry up now, or youíll miss your chance!"

"Iíll do it!" Duo decided. "After all, what have I got to lose? This way, Iíll at least get the chance to talk to him!" And then he bounced away towards the castle. Behind him the girl smiled happily and then simply disappeared.

Up at the castle the gifts were already being displayed before the prince. In fact, it had begun early that morning so that they would be finished before nightfall. As Duo entered the castle that afternoon, the last of the gifts were being delivered. He positioned himself last in the line and watched as he waited for his turn.

Heero was bored. All day he had been forced to sit and watch as a lot of idiotic men and women bore forth a lot of idiotic gifts. There was a bird made of gold with emeralds for eyes. When you touched its head, it spread its wings and flew around the throne room before it landed in front of the prince. Now, what was the use of that?

Then there was the wine. One of the suitors had brought a bottle of honey wine that killed all sorrow forever, and only left joy. So, Heero thought, you were forced to be happy even when sorrowful things happened? It probably wouldnít work anyway.

Next was a trumpet that played anything you wanted to hear. Hn. I donít even like the trumpet, the prince continued in his silent criticism.

A young noblewoman from the neighboring kingdom had brought a pipe that, if you blew on it, called all the birds in the world and made them sing for you. Thatís idiotic! the prince thought incredulously. Does she have any idea what would happen if all the birds in the world came to the same place? Why would anyone want that to happen? Iím not marrying an idiot!

But the next gift was somewhat less disappointing. A magician from the east presented a cape that not only made you invisible, but also transported you wherever you wanted to go. That could actually prove quite useful, Heero decided. But Iím still not going to marry him!

A princess from the south gave him a mirror that held both the memories of the past as well as the secrets of the future. She is actually giving away something like that? Now Heero couldnít have said anything even if he had wanted to. If that thing really worked, she must have seen that he wasnít going to marry her. And she still gave it away! Or maybe she hadnít looked in it? Twice the stupidity then.

Wasnít this ever going to end? He had been here all day now, surely there had to be an end to this idiocy soon? When the next suitor stepped forward Heero didnít even look at him, but just said in a cold voice:

"And what is your gift?"

"I beg your forgiveness, your highness, but I cannot tell you until after we are married."

At that answer the prince quickly focused on the person standing in front of him. What he saw was a beautiful young man, all dressed in black with a long chestnut colored braid and eyes that were deep pools of violet. Well, he seemed a bit more intelligent than the rest of them, and he is good looking, but he canít expect me to...

"Surely you canít expect me to marry you if I donít even know what your gift is?" The prince asked. "Tell me what it is."

"Sorry, but I canít do that," Duo answered cheerfully and grinned. "But Iíll tell you on our wedding night," he continued and winked at Heero.

The prince scowled at him, but he couldnít hide the blush creeping up on his cheeks. A wedding night with that brash young man would be... He stopped himself before the blush became even worse.

"Bring on the next suitor," he said instead.

"That was everyone, your highness,"

"I see. Well I will consider your gifts, and give you my decision tomorrow," Heero proclaimed, and then he let out a small sigh of relief as he left the throne room and headed for his own quarters.

Despite his earlier decision not to marry any of his suitors, he couldnít stop thinking about the boy who wouldnít reveal what kind of gift he was giving away. He had felt something when looking into those deep violet eyes, and it wasnít just the sudden vision of the two of them together, naked and sweaty... There Heero stopped himself, and blushing went back to consider the other things he had felt. There had been a strange connection somehow. Something had felt so...right. Hn. He would just have to talk to the boy tomorrow, and try to find out more.

The next morning, the prince went looking for Duo, and eventually found him in the palace garden. He was sitting under a tree, eyes closed and with a small smile on his lips. Heero just stood there for a while, watching the other boy, once again feeling that strange feeling of...belonging? Perhaps. But he wasnít giving in that easily.

"Good morning", Heero said in his usual cold voice. "I have been looking for you."

Duoís eyes flew open, and he found himself staring up into the eyes that had been haunting his dreams for so long now. So he smiled.

"Well, here I am", he said and stood up, still smiling. "I hope itís all right that I took a look around? The garden is very beautiful, and I have no intention of socializing with the others. Not after realizing that they have absolutely nothing intelligent to say, anyway, and did you know that some of them gives the impression of having the brains of a small frog? But Iím prepared to put up with it for your sake your highness! Here, look what I found, it goes perfectly with your eyes", Duo said, and produced a rose of a deep blue color Heero hadnít realized he was holding, and fastened it in the small crown the prince was wearing.

Heero was momentarily stunned by the action and the sheer quantity of words, but quickly recovered, and before Duo could take hold of the conversation again, he started asking his questions.

"I know that you wonít tell me what your gift is," he started, "but maybe you could tell me your name at least?"

"Of course! My name is Duo, and I live in the city outside the castle. I always watch you when you ride out." Then Duo got a serious look in his eyes.
"Even though we never talked, I always felt that there was something special about you, and it wasnít long until I fell in love with you."

So, Duo had also felt that... and long before the prince had even laid eyes on the beautiful young man. But he needed to know more about him!

The prince looked Duo deeply in the eyes and said:

"But why wonít you tell me what the gift is?" He then leaned forward and whispered: "Tell me..."

Duo wavered for a moment, but then said firmly:

"Not until we are married, as I said!"

Prince Heero straightened up and scowled at the boy in front of him.

"Tell me!"

"No."

"Is it big or small?"

"Itís not big, but I hope it will be grand!"

"Will you tell me on our wedding day, even if I donít marry you?"

"No."

Now the prince was getting really frustrated.

"At least the others gave me their gifts, but you wonít even tell me what yours is!"

"Itís already yours," Duo answered, "but I wonít tell you what it is until we are married."

"You realize that I could take it from you by force, donít you?"

"If you did that," Duo said with a sad look in his eyes, "the gift would no longer be yours, and you certainly could not marry me, even if you would want to."

The prince then scowled at him again before leaving and walking back into the castle.

The announcement was to be made the same afternoon, and the wedding would be directly afterwards. The kings didn't want to waste any time... All the suitors had gathered in the throne room to hear the princeís decision. When everybody finally had gathered and settled down (there were 1000 of them, and thatís not counting the court!), prince Heero stood and said:

"I will marry Duo." in his usual cold voice.

Then he walked out of the room to get prepared for the wedding. Duo couldnít believe his ears when the words were spoken. Did he really say that? He couldnít have! The rest of the day was like a dream to him, and it was a miracle that he was able to answer at the right places during the ceremony. At the end of the day, the newlywed couple withdrew to their chambers, followed by the cheer of the wedding guests. (The other suitors had gone home, since no one wanted them there to spoil the party.) Treize and Zechs looked at each other and smiled.

"It seems our plan worked out well", Treize said.

"Yes", Zechs answered. "Did you see the look in Heeroís eyes? I think they will be very happy."

"Maybe even as happy as we are", Treize agreed, and gave his beloved a deep kiss.

Upstairs, Heero and Duo had entered the chamber where they were going to spend their wedding night. Now that he had actually married Heero, Duo felt insecure and a bit scared. What would Heero say when he found out what the gift was? At that moment Heero turned and said:

"Well, arenít you going to tell me what my gift is now?"

Duo then got down on one knee in front of him, and said:

"I was very poor, and had nothing to give you but my heart. Itís yours, forever."

He looked down, prepared for the princeís anger. Instead he felt a hand gently stroke his cheek, and then gripping his chin tilting his face upwards. His surprised eyes met Heeroís, and widened when seeing the prince smiling sweetly at him.

"I made the right choice. It was the best gift, the only one I really wanted."

And then they kissed for a very long time, before getting into the bed to engage in the usual activities of a newlywed couple.

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