mdseiran: (Default)
[personal profile] mdseiran
Title: The Care and Taming of Brothers
Fandom: Original
Warnings: None.

-Written for [ profile] runebearer's contest.

Being born into royalty was more a task than a reward. Young princes and princesses would spend their days studying and training until their little heads were full of languages and histories, of dueling and crafting. Then, when they grew up, they would become the next generation of rulers with all the insanity that it entailed. Guarded around the clock, spending most days outside of their homes on political business, and then, when the time was right, marry someone equal to them in status so that a new alliance could be formed or an older one strengthened. However, this was not always the case - as once every few hundred years a prince or princess would be born to challenge the system in place, and break long-standing rules while still being an effective leader.

Of course being married to royalty came with its own set of difficulties. Certain behavior was expected, certain duties demanded. Not to mention the royal family to contend with. And when the person in question comes from a suspicious background, it makes all of the above ten times as difficult as they would normally be.

Despite the overwhelming odds and his difficulties with the X'tilantzel men, Kethis settled in fairly quickly after his engagement to Emerylle X'tilantzel, Ali'siri of Gheldale. Not that his transition was an easy one. First there was the disapproval of Emy's family to deal with when they found out the two of them were perfectly serious about their relationship. There wasn't much shouting (X'tilantzels are too genteel to shout) but each of the male members of the family took both of them aside separately in an attempt to talk sense into them. When that produced no results, they turned to stating all the difficulties that would be facing them should they choose to proceed. But neither Kethis nor Emerylle lacked foresight and none of the concerns were things they had not thought about and discussed at great lengths. With no objections unvoiced, Kieran, Gheldale's Tal'siri, decided to spend the next two weeks in the couple's company, to make sure Kethis treated his sister right, or so he said. Kethis was of the opinion that his reason for being there had more to do with finding and exploiting his shortcomings than anything else. But while the human thief might not have been schooled in a royal manner, he learned quickly, and a mistake once made was never made again. By the end of the two weeks Kieran didn't like his future brother-in-law any better but at least conceded that he wasn't out to break Emy's heart.

With the official announcement of their engagement, several changes were immediately made. The leaders of the Ge'siri and Aschal had a meeting during which they decided an alliance would be in the best interest of both clans. No time was wasted in signing the contracts. After being locked up in the library for several hours, Breiden and Kethis emerged from it with the news that Kethis would be Aschal's ambassador to Gheldale and as such be required to live there. He was granted a room in the royal palace at Emy's request, and if he never slept in his own bed no one was the wiser. After all, Emy could make things and people appear invisible and knew what spell to use so she could see the hidden herself, so whenever her father or brothers sneaked up during the night to peek inside her room, they would see one body on the bed, as it should be. If any of them had bothered to check on Kethis as well, they might've been more concerned. As it was, everyone co-existed in the big palace quite peacefully.

Kethis's promotion to ambassador left him busy and frustrated the first week. Breiden demanded he come to Seria at least once every two days, to "teach you how to be diplomatic so you don't cause a war." Kethis wasn't sure how he could be taught tact or diplomacy from his older brother of all people, but knew if he dragged his feet Breiden would simply hit him over the head with a bag and drag him off anyway. Dunaedin insisted on frequent meetings with the new ambassador as well, to teach him the things he would need to know about Ge'siri policies and Gheldale history and customs. By the end of each day, Kethis's head would be aching and he would feel a new rush of sympathy for what the royal triplets had endured as children.

When things had settled down a bit and Kethis felt almost comfortable in his new position, he took on a new task; that of Emy's guard. The protests that there were enough elvyths to form protection landed on deaf ears, and appeals to Breiden to rein his brother in fared no better. Surprisingly, it was Kieran who agreed quickest, shrugging and explaining that it couldn't hurt to have a former (no one seemed to believe that) assassin and thief look over the security in place. If anyone could find the blind spots it would be Kethis, and the latter mentally thanked Kieran for his support.

The next four days were spent with Kieran who, as Emy's First Knight, was in charge of her security as well as being an active member of it. The small dining room that they had taken up as temporary headquarters was soon littered with scraps of paper and an assortment of pencils, and anyone knocking on the door was told to go away. When they finally emerged, armed with small stacks of documents, the guards were rallied and their new training began. Kethis even insisted on a few test runs and he would ask Breiden to lend him one of Aschal's members to pose as Emy while they toured the streets of Gheldale. There was a lot of protesting initially when Kethis insisted on being a guard as well, but Kieran had enough influence and respect among the military forces that it soon faded to mere grumbles. And when Kethis saved the Ali'siri from a dangerous stab, the grumbles disappeared entirely.

They had been escorting Emy to the Temple of Light in the northern Aschal territory, surrounded by a dozen elvyths, a knight and a thief. No one was sure how, but one of the highway men led by Dusty managed to worm his way through the ranks until he was only a few paces away from the Ali'siri. A kick and circled stab from Kethis had the man lying at their feet, and an urgent message sent to the Tigruaidh had a dozen Aschal members escorting them the rest of the way. There were no further incidents and Kethis later realized the elvyths were not trained to see movement in the shadows, something he intended to remedy. And when Emy was safely ensconced in the temple, Kieran walked up to him and offered him his hand and a tiny smile that Kethis returned. They might not like each other, but they shared understanding and respect, and that was enough.

The difficult thing about changing professions from thief to diplomat was that the latter wasn't nearly as interesting. At least half the meetings were tedious, and Kethis spent many of them with his thoughts drifting. He had acquired the talent of listening with one ear when he was very young, and even if he missed something important his secretary wrote everything down so he could peruse it later. He much preferred training the guards or teaching Emy how to throw a knife. His father had disapproved of the skill, saying it wasn't right for the Ali'siri to learn violent combat. But Kethis, ever practical, took to teaching Emy in the privacy of her rooms, and if any of the servants were surprised at the thuds coming from that direction they stayed silent. And when, a month later, Emy could launch the knife at a certain spot with and without the aid of a little magic, Kethis grinned, jammed the lock, and steered her towards the bed. Few things were sexier than a woman with a knife.

The end of their private training sessions left Kethis with nothing to brood over during meetings. The guards were progressing well; Kieran was training them hard and when the human thief had tried to infiltrate their ranks last week he had earned a pair of sore ribs and a nasty concussion. Kieran wore a wide grin when he apologized for the injuries while still sounding contrite, and Kethis was waiting for a chance to get back at him. All in good humor, of course. He wouldn't hold a grudge against his brother-in-law. Or at least not a big one. However, if he could think of something to make Kieran severely uncomfortable, he certainly wouldn't object.

The answer was dumped in his lap unexpectedly by Emy, although should she ever find out his real intention behind helping her she would likely not be pleased. It was really an accident that he found out; he hadn't planned to eavesdrop on Emy and her sister while they were chatting in the gardens. But when his ears picked up Kieran's name, said in that exasperated yet fond tone that Emy sometimes used on him when he'd done something against protocol, his curiosity was piqued. Further listening told him that the two sisters were trying to find a suitable wife for their brother without much success since he rejected each and every one of them with grumbles and, occasionally, violent shuddering. Kethis could understand that; the few names he recognized were all from noble families, and some were decidedly unattractive. But commiserating did not mean he couldn't add a little oil to the fire.

The question was innocently posed one evening when they were curled up in the big bed, Kethis absently playing with his beloved's curls. "Does Kieran do anything other than train the guards these days?"

She turned her head a bit to look at him, brows furrowed slightly, the way she did when she was concentrating. "He has other duties as well."

Kethis shook his head slightly and turned on his side, tracing the contours of her face with the tips of his fingers. Experience had taught him it was an excellent tactic to keep her just that inch away from giving the conversation all her attention. "I meant outside of work. I never see him go out for the night and the few girls he does see are always different each time."

"Observant aren't you," and Kethis gave her a grin in reply. "Wyn and I were talking about that a few days ago. We've been trying to find him someone to settle down with, a nice siriyu girl, but none of them seem to his liking. He wouldn't even consider Elanor when I suggested her, and she comes from an excellent background."

He grunted sympathetically, suppressing a smile when she let out a small noise and shifted closer to him. "Maybe I can help? I'm sure I can find a few girls he could be interested in." Her pleased smile, the rewarding kisses and the anticipation of the look on Kieran's face were ample compensation for the slight embarrassment he would suffer for playing matchmaker.

As luck would have it, Kethis was present when Emy presented the first candidate to her brother. He was pleased and amused to find Kieran actually considering Mikke and consenting to at least two meetings. A week later found Kieran walking up to him with a shocked expression, telling him, "Your brother is mad," then proceeding to hack things with his sword until he stopped looking so pale. Emy told him that night that Tylendel had kept smiling at Kieran whenever the Tal'siri happened to walk by him, a creepy smile, and Breiden had cheerfully told him that if he didn't treat Mikke properly he would pay with his head.

He wasn't there when Kieran met Lucinda, but the mask with a mouth that was half-smiling, half-frowning, and a pair of dark, piercing eyes underneath were the reason a second meeting never happened. Emy seemed discouraged and when Kethis tactfully suggested that maybe Kieran preferred his own gender and just wasn't aware of it, she was desperate enough to concede it was possible. The date with Vael was probably the most disastrous of all.

Once Kieran got over that last shock, Ayris and Raseleanne were introduced to him. Ayris was more interested in collecting some of his blood for her experiments, and he kept accidentally tripping over Raseleanne's long tail which, quite understandably, annoyed her more than a little, and made Kieran so flustered he appealed to Kethis for help in curbing his sisters' enthusiasm. He looked and sounded so desperate that the human took pity on him and, when Emy asked him if he had any more suggestions, told her that Kieran was looking especially harried and that he probably needed some time to absorb it all. She reluctantly agreed, and Kethis took a few minutes out of his schedule the next day to pass by the training grounds and loftily inform the siriyu that he owed him one. He held in his snickering until he was out of Kieran's sight. Sometimes, life was very good indeed.

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