The Prince(ss) and the Pea
by dbzlives


Once upon a time there was a Prince named Takeru. Since he'd been a child, it had been assumed that he'd marry Princess Hikari of a neighboring kingdom. No one had asked either of their opinions, and in truth he and Hikari were such good friends that the idea of a relationship struck them as icky. There was no rush, as both had older brothers who were expected to produce heirs.

Then, a lot of things happened at once, and the situation got very messy.

Hikari's older brother Prince Taichi fell in love with an auburn haired girl who was visiting from some kingdom far away. When she returned home, he forfeited the crown to his sister and chased after her. All of this done cheerfully ignoring the rumors about her purple-haired lover.

This caused quite the scandal, but the King and Queen reminded themselves they'd still have dear Takeru to rule, after his marriage to Hikari. For the first time, an actual wedding date, about a month in the future, was chosen.

Prince Yamato left in the middle of the night, leaving a note he was in love with his hair, and would no longer be able to stay. He'd left official documents, all signed in the proper way, which gave up all of his claims to the throne.

In the time it took Prince Takeru's parents to get very worried, Princess Hikari decided to get while the getting was good. She ran away with Miyako, her personal maid, and was married in this world's equivalent of a Las Vegas chapel.

Now, Prince Takeru's parents were in a tizzy. (This is nothing compared to the Yagami royalty, who were frantic with trying to convince at least one of their wayward children to return home.) The Ishida-Takaishi royalty finally put out a decree, which would be better described as a free for all.

With all the royal legalese and such cut out, what it came down to was this: any eligible youth who passed the requisite tests, thus proving themselves on equal standing with a princess, would wed Prince Takeru.

It should be noted here, that the King and Queen were quiet rushed. It should also be noted that they were royalty, and a bit inbred, and poor Takeru was just lucky he had all his wits. As royalty, they were quite spoiled and unused to doing things for themselves. Unfortunately, the above events took place at the same time as a great scribe strike. So the King and Queen wrote the decree themselves, and they really can't be to blame if there was a small loophole, now can they?

But I digress, as the purpose of this narrative is not the mental powers of the royal family.

The decree had been out for a few months. There was a constant flux of girls in the castle, from the stunningly beautiful who were self-inserts gone awry, to the many girls who were actually residents of this world and were doing a little gold-digging, and to the stunningly hideous, which represented the actual forms of the self-inserters.

The tests were actually a bit excessive. Etiquette, posture, social habits, other various trivialities, and a mysterious and famed to be ridiculously hard test. It was upon this last test that the most value was placed. The one test they seemed to forget was fertility. It should be noted that the royal family's advisors were also on strike, leading the author to ponder if perhaps the Ishida-Takaishi royalty are a bit stingy when it comes to paying their employees. Once again, I digress.

There happened to be a family of nobles living in this kingdom. How they attained their noble status is something of a mystery, as the parents weren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.

The nobles had two sons, the elder and more favored a genius, while the younger and oft-ignored was merely above average. Both the sons were easy on the eyes, the younger could only be described as pretty.

As his parents were so enraptured of his brother, Ken could pretty much do as he pleased. By the time he was 16, at the time of which this story occurs, he'd wandered around all the places of interest in the kingdom (though seldom into said places, as his family were rather low on the nobility scale). He'd often seen Prince Takeru, and though he wouldn't admit it, had developed something of an infatuation for the blond prince.

He'd thought, as had the rest of the kingdom, that the Prince was in love with Hikari. When Hikari had run away with Miyako, he'd been easily as pleased as the two of them were.

His brother spent most of his free time on inventing various genius-y things to grant his parents more fame. But, Osamu took it upon himself to guide Ken romantically.

He found the younger boy alone in the cozy living room. Flushing and muttering an excuse, Ken quickly folded up the paper he'd been looking at and shoved it in a pocket. But not before Osamu noticed two things: the paper was a copy of the decree, and it had been unfolded, read again, and refolded so many times that it was almost falling apart at the creases.

"Kenny-boy," he said, using the hated childhood nickname. "Anything on your mind?" He sank into a chair and scrutinized his younger brother.

Scowling at the nickname, Ken mumbled an unconvincing negative response.

"Sure is an interesting thing, going on at the castle. Very ingenious way to get a wife for the prince," Osamu drawled, guessing correctly that this would be a weak spot.

"They're putting him on display like he's a piece of meat!" Ken burst out. Osamu raised an eyebrow, and there were a few moments of mutual silence. "That was dumb," Ken murmured.

"Oh yes. But I'm your brother, it's part of my duty to make you feel dumb." Osamu was smirking broadly.

"Well I appreciate you going out of your way to watch me humiliate myself, but if you don't mind, I'd like to return to sulking rather pathetically."

"It's your lucky day Ken, I'm here to help you." Osamu grinned.

Ken let out a groan. "Somedays it's not worth getting out of bed."

"Let me see the decree." Ken reluctantly handed it over. "Okay Ken, I want you to look at this. Actually look, not just sulk at the idea of Takeru being married to some bimbo. Ignore all the official terms, the King and Queen sure as hell don't know what they mean."

Intrigued, Ken leaned closer. It seemed Osamu actually had a point other than torturing him.

"Right here. Now obviously, they want a wife for Prince Takeru. The whole child-bearing thing. But look at what they have written."

"Any youth.." Ken said softly, his eyes aglow. "They don't specify anything other than being in the same age group. I can't believe I didn't see this earlier."

"You were a bit caught up in your self pity."

"Stuff it," Ken said absently as he rose to his feet. Pacing about the chamber, he spoke his thoughts aloud. "So I have a chance. Not much of one, but a chance."

"Yeah," Osamu said, once again in a sarcastic drawl. "Now you just have to prove you're as good as any princess."

Ken looked mildly ill. "Oh man..." He turned to glare at Osamu. "Admit it, you're just helping me to see me in drag."


Thus it came to pass that, a few weeks later a beautiful young 'woman' was seen walking done the road towards the castle. This was Ken Ichijouji, after having quickly read all the etiquette books he could find and 'borrowing' a dress from Osamu's girlfriend.

Osamu had then wandered off, probably to invent something for said girlfriend to keep her from being angry at the loss of her dress. Ken's parents were off gushing to a newspaper journalist about their genius son, once again forgetting they had a younger son. This had seemed like a good time to leave.

While looking so feminine helped with the 'as-good-as-a-princess' bit he need to accomplish, it had its drawbacks. One of these drawbacks was horny farmers passing on the road, who seemed awfully fond of pinching Ken's butt. The author would like to note that she can't blame them.

As fairy tales inevitably follow Murphy's Law, it wasn't surprising that dark clouds formed overhead. The sky steadily darkened as the rain began, moving quickly to a deluge. So now our hero(ine) was soaked to the bone, chilled, and had aching feet from the unfamiliar high heels.

Ken arrived at the castle in almost total darkness. It was still raining, giving him no idea as to the time, but his empty stomach told him it was well past dinner time. The guards let him in without batting an eye. As pitiful as the water-logged boy looked, they'd seen much worse specimens in the past few months.

Then followed the annoyingly long procedure of getting Ken inside the castle and introducing him to the King and Queen. Ken raised an eyebrow at his potential in-laws. The two were sitting as far from each other as decency allowed. The King was chain smoking to his heart's content while the Queen had fans set up to blow the smoke back into his face.

When the two were done sniping at each other and took the time to acknowledge him, he was lead to the room with the other marriage candidates.

Apparently the combination of his reading and having been raised amongst nobles was adequate, as he wasn't immediately thrown out. (It should be noted that both forms of self inserts made grievous social errors and most were gone before dinner was over.) It appeared since dinner was over, he wouldn't be fed at all that night.

The evening was boring in the way that only very important, official events can be. The high point of the night was when a girl dared to fart and subsequently fled the country in shame. Then the boredom set in again, the many girls (and a very few other cross-dressing boys) milling about and chattering brainlessly, all the while making sure they stood with perfect posture and otherwise acted perfect.

Ken was a very kind person, but even that wouldn't have stopped him from screaming, if this hadn't been so important.

The room drew in a collective breath at the entry of the royal family. Prince Takeru was shoved into the room, looking like he'd run if given half a chance. The girls swarmed about him, doing their best to charm. In a few moments, half had been kicked out by the perfectionist King and Queen.

While Prince Takeru was forced to mingle with a phony grin pasted on his face, his parents continued to watch the girls like a pair of hawks. Ken made his way through the crowd. "Hello, my Prince," he said, making no effort to disguise his voice.

Takeru stared. "What? But you're a guy...?"

"Yes, but the decree never said a guy couldn't try to win your hand. I decided to try, as I have nothing to lose."

The two boys were leaning towards each other, speaking quietly so as not to be overheard. "I'm so sick of all these girls," Takeru confided. "And with the ridiculous last test my parents have, this will be going on for years."

Ken looked mildly concerned. "This last test is particularly difficult?"

"Er," Takeru stammered. "Difficult isn't really the right word..."

He was prevented from having to answer (and couldn't anyway) by his parents. "Takeru dear, you can't neglect all the other girls."

So the prince was once again forced to idly flirt with the many girls. After having the first intelligent conversation in months ended so quickly, he was hard-pressed to act at all enthusiastic about it.

The night dragged on, Ken and Takeru watching each other across the room. Finally, the King and Queen grew tired, and all were permitted to go to bed.

Takeru paused, debating internally. Finally, with a 'what the hell' shrug, he rushed forward and caught Ken's arm. "If you want to pass the final test, just be truthful when you answer questions." Hoping that would be enough, he nodded to his parents and went to bed.

The final test was something annoyingly simple, but in its simplicity almost guaranteed no one would pass it. A handful of peas had been placed beneath each mattress in the guest chambers. As extra insurance, many more mattresses had been added, until the bed was gloriously soft and of such a height that one needed a ladder to get onto it. The ironic thing was that even if a girl was sufficiently delicate to feel the peas through all the mattresses, no one would insult the hospitality of the King and Queen in such a way.

After reaching his room, Ken disposed of the high heels. Wondering what on earth had inspired this sort of bedding, Ken climbed the high ladder and lay down to sleep.

By all logic, he should have slept like the dead. It had been a long day, and between walking halfway across the country and the exhilaration of finally meeting the prince, he was exhausted. Unfortunately, he hadn't eaten since lunch. His mind was so worked up that when he finally fell asleep, it was restless and he spent the night tossing and turning. (At one point he fell off the unstable mattresses, resulting in a spectacular bruise on his back.)

The suitors were woken at the crack of dawn. Excitement ran through the air as to the mysterious final test.

It seemed only natural, given the famous hospitality of the royal family, that they'd have breakfast first. And it seemed to be just more of the family when the Queen inquired how they'd rested.

There was an annoyingly perky chorus of statements that the guest quarters were marvelous, that they'd never stayed anywhere so fine in their life, that they hadn't been so well rested since they were a child-

"Horrible. I barely slept at all, and my back is sore beyond belief," Ken stated bluntly.

There were gasps of outrage from the other suitors, and gasps of delight from the King and Queen, who believed they'd finally found a wife for their son who was as good as any princess. After having the palace guards drag the hysterical girls out, they began making wedding plans, ordering the royal seamstress to start on a wedding gown for their son's bride-to-be, by the way, what was the girl's name?

Well. There was shock and outrage at the discovery of Ken's gender. The only thing that saved Ken's neck was Osamu. The genius had figured there might be a reaction like this, and had planned accordingly. Using his fame to convince the King and Queen to listen to him, he explained the loop-hole in the law, and that they now must follow through with their promise.

There was a whirlwind wedding, followed by a honeymoon, during which time the Prince and his 'bride' fell deeply in love with each other. The honeymoon was then lengthened by several weeks. They lived happily ever after, shagging to their heart's content.