rengesou ring ―

au where two countries led by the edogawa and dazai families have been at war for 20 very long years, and finally, they decide to make peace...

on the condition the youngest son to the dazai's marry the edogawa's only child.
warnings:

- child abuse (irt dazai's family)
- all the war crimes you can think of in varying degrees (but only mentions at least)
- eventual nsfw but you got a while buckle up we got drama first
- mori's various bullshittery
note for no one but the flower loving motherfuckers like me: the rengesou in japanese flower language means "your presence soothes my pain".

---
The word ‘war’ comes with a weight— 

The weight of lives that are lost, the weight from committing atrocities, the weight from harming the innocent in the name of what your country’s royal family labels ‘justice.’

War is many things; it is a concept, a mask, an escape, an
+
excuse... but more than any of those, before it is anything else, it is a /scar/ that the land and people never quite heal from and /refuse/ to forget.

Ranpo has lived his whole life under the curtain of war. For twenty long years, the country his family led fought with its
+
neighbor who so desperately and viciously wished to claim their land for their growing empire. Without conquering Ranpo’s family that served as a wall between the empire and other kingdoms, the empire could not gain more power, and thus sought to conquer the land ruled by the
+
Edogawa’s at all costs.

Once upon a time, Ranpo had quite a bit of extended family members — or so his mother has always told him... Year by year, their numbers dwindled at the hands of their enemy who was never above such dirty tactics until only they remained.

+
Just three left to the Edogawa family name.

Ranpo was a mere child when his parents were robbed of most of their relatives, so he never quite understood why, every few months, the two would do nothing but hold each other in silence or cry. The last time an extended relative
+
he had died was when he was fourteen, only just starting to learn how deep the war went, and just how far it reached like a slow acting poison.

The Dazai Family, who ruled the empire fighting against his parents, were a callous sort who relied on underhanded, manipulative
+
methods to get what they wanted. They were resourceful, and talented in the act of breaking someone's will and mind slowly and painfully, with minute detail.

Had it been any other family but Ranpo's, surely they would have succumbed ages ago, but there was never a pair of
+
rulers more solid and immovable than that of Edogawa Akechi and Fumiyo. Not only were they unshakable even with all the pain they endured, their intellect far outweighed that of anyone in the empire, and eventually…

After twenty long years, the Dazai's admitted their defeat
+
in their own /special way./

"I can't believe the empire is seriously asking for a peace treaty." A young woman with teal hair scoffs, folding her arms as she looks out an open window, glaring at the sight below.

A carriage is positioned at the main entrance of the castle,
+
with the door open as a middle aged man and a younger man climb out.

"Worst part is," the woman adds with a frown, "that the king and queen didn't even wanna come out here themselves and sent their lackeys to do this instead. Unbelievable, right, Ranpo?"

She looks to the
+
young man standing on the other end of the window, who is gazing down at the sight while popping a piece of konpeito into his mouth. His hair is short, messy, and black, and a pair of sharp, thin green eyes blink behind a pair of black framed glasses. 

He shakes the glass jar
+
he holds in one hand, studying the contents pensively.

"The young one is one of their sons. I'd assume one of the older ones that know this requires a sense of /integrity/." Ranpo turns his head to look at the woman, smiling lightly while offering out the jar. "I know you have
+
your /grievances/ 'cause of your mom, Mizuki-chan, but this was gonna happen eventually."

Mizuki frowns lightly, but still accepts the offer and plucks out a few konpeito from the jar. "You're taking this scarily well for being the son of the king and queen who fought the
+
empire for so long…"

Green eyes slide back to stare out of the window. "I just want mother and father to have some peace. They were already robbed of twenty years, why drag it out anymore? This whole thing has always been stupid to me anyway."
+
"But…"

"Here, you can have these," Ranpo grabs Mizuki's hand to shove the glass jar into her palm. "I'm gonna get going since they're inside now. Also, make sure you don't just call me Ranpo around other staff before you get moved to a different wing."
+
Mizuki straightens her back at the warning. "Oh, uh, yes… Your Highness! Please take care!"

Ranpo smiles and nods, walking past her to walk down the long hall.

The castle is exceptionally quiet as he walks through the halls where there would usually be rambling, the sound
+
of footsteps, or the clattering of dishes. There are various servants he passes, certainly, but they're all whispering among themselves or curled in on each other and facing the opposite walls.

Ranpo sighs, bringing two fingers to his mouth and whistling so loudly it echoes
+
down the hall, making a few maids jump as he does so.

"Look lively, everyone! You're still on the clock!" He calls out, waving a hand cheerfully. "It's gonna be a long day!"

There's a moment of silence as they all stare at him, and then —
+
Everyone is suddenly kicked back into gear, and the familiar sound of the servants moving around floods the hall at last.

That's better.

“Now then— the meeting room.”

He inhales, a bright smile on his face and a bounce in his step as he continues towards his destination.

---
The air in the meeting room is suffocating and tense.

Though this room has been the epicenter of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of battle plans, countless bills that were signed to make the life of the people easier, and even a few agreements among other countries —
+
none of them combined could ever match the feeling in the room at this very moment.

It's enough to unnerve the maid standing near the entrance, who visibly shakes where she stands. Akechi and Fumiyo sit on the other side of the table, silent with their heads held high.
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"It's a shame that Dazai-dono couldn't be here," Akechi starts finally with a deep sigh, folding his hands on the table. "What was the reason again that he sent you in his stead?"

"Concern over his well-being," the emissary answers easily, smiling thinly. He's a well dressed
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man clad in black, with his hair slicked back and tied into a small ponytail. "We mean no offense, Edogawa-dono, but your country has quite the hatred for the empire."

"That is no one's fault but your king's."

"As a sign of good faith, however," the emissary continues,
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completely disregarding the comment as he gestures to the young man sitting next to him. "One of his eldest sons is here to represent the royal family."

The young man bows his head politely, a pair of hazel eyes glinting under the afternoon sun from the nearby windows. His
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hair is a mess of brown waves, tied back into a loose ponytail that is pulled over one shoulder. "I am Dazai Bunji, the third eldest. It is a pleasure."

Akechi nods his head, sighing while leaning back in his chair. "Do feel free to read over the documents…" he trails off,
+
grey eyes focusing on the emissary. 

"Mori," the man offers.

"Mori-san, then. When you're ready."

"Of course."

Mori reaches in front of him to open a black folder, flipping through a few papers and skimming over the contents. When he finally plucks out one in particular,
+
the door to the meeting room opens, and all heads turn to look at the intruder —

"Ranpo," Fumiyo breathes. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm old enough to be here," Ranpo says, waving his arms up in a cheerful shrug. "Besides, they brought one of the sons for this. Why
+
shouldn't I be here to complement him, huh? Unless our visitors object?"

He looks pointedly at Mori, who scoffs and shrugs lightly in amusement.

"Certainly, Your Highness. If I am free to proceed, I'll read out the outline of the peace treaty, and you may read the full
+
document at your leisure to clarify we are in agreement."

Akechi gestures for him to continue.

Mori nods, clearing his throat as he begins, "This treaty states that the Empire under rule of His Majesty Dazai Gen'emon will formally make peace with the country ruled by His and
+
Her Majesty, Edogawa Akechi and Fumiyo. All violent pursuits will be withdrawn following the signing and solidification of this document to bring an end to the war, and prisoners residing on both sides are to be returned to their homeland."

Akechi nods, but inside his head,
+
he truly doubts he will see many of his people return.

Countless men, women, and even children were taken from their homes in attacks on distant villages that were too far to reach before it was already too late. Over the course of this very long war, Akechi has become far
+
too familiar with the methods of Dazai Gen'emon — and they are almost always cruel and inhumane, preying on a human's most vulnerable emotions knowing that it one cannot choose to do nothing without being impacted psychologically by the /guilt/ of abandoning the helpless.
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"The Edogawa family will agree to be the medium between the Empire and the countries furthest east regarding trade," Mori continues, and in the corner of the room, Ranpo rolls his eyes at how boring it all is. He almost chooses to step out and save himself from wasting his
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time, until he gets a sudden bad feeling when Mori's gaze flicks to him.

"And, there is one more thing…"

Ranpo's parents don't answer or ask what, instead staring him down as they wait for him to finish his sentence. Mori drags it out to an almost painful level before
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inhaling slowly, and saying the most dreaded words that Akechi and Fumiyo could have never saw coming:

"To show the union and acceptance between the two families, Prince Edogawa Ranpo must marry one of the children of the Dazai family."

Ranpo's brows shoot up.
+
Almost immediately, Akechi rises from his chair, standing at his full height as he stares down Mori. "You," he begins with a cold snarl, "will rob us of /generations/ of our family line, wipe them all out until only /three of us/ remain, and then you have the /gall/ to demand
+
my son's future as well?!"

"It's merely one future for the sake of millions that live under your reign, Your Majesty," Mori offers with far too much sweetness in his voice. "Is that not a /generous/ trade?"

"A man like you that is so close to that man /would/ say such a
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/dehumanizing/ thing about another man's child, wouldn't you? /My child is not an item to be traded or sold!/"

"Can I—" Ranpo starts, but none of the people at the table give him the light of day.

"This is a key factor of ensuring this treaty passes, Your Majesty," Mori says,
+
maintaining his composure infuriatingly well. "His Majesty Gen'emon emphasized this specifically to me when writing these documents."

"Hey—"

Fumiyo stands to her feet now, slapping her palms on the table as she leans forward. "To trap the future king of this country, you
mean? Do you really think us so foolish? The people who have kept your king at bay this long?"

Ranpo scowls like a child as the arguing continues, then turns to the maid not far away. 

"Hey, do you mind going out to get a broom?"

The maid — a young woman with long brown
+
hair and pink glasses – blinks at him in confusion. "Uh… yes, I can — but why?"

The prince smiles. "Just trust me, you're going to need it pretty soon," he says, opening the door to usher her out. "Bring some rags while you're at it? Thank you, dear."

The maid nods, stepping
+
out the door despite how confused she looks, and Ranpo closes the door softly behind her.

Pivoting on a heel, he drums his fingers against a nearby vase full of flowers, and while staring down the still arguing adults alongside one uncomfortable prince who watches helplessly —
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He shoves the vase off the stand, causing it to crash and shatter on the ground and render the room painfully silent. Everyone looks over at him with a bewildered expression, his poor mother the most shocked of all.

(That was number seventeen on her list of favorite vases.)
+
Ranpo sighs, stepping over the mess of water, glass, and flowers to stand before his parents. The glass cracks sharply under his heels, as if punctuating the control he seizes over the room. "If this involves me, don't you think you should let me say something too?"
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The look on his face makes his parents relax a bit, a sheepish look on their face as they come to the realization of how out of character they were acting.

"This being said—!" Ranpo chirps, clapping his hands together. "I'd sure appreciate it if everyone here but the prince
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would move to a separate room for a while!"

"Excuse me?" Mori says, clearly offended.

"You're just here trying to instigate my parents into doing something to warrant extreme acts of violence, don't act as if you really care about any of this," Ranpo waves at him
+
dismissively, "The prince is as much of an emissary as you are, therefore he surely knows how this goes and will do just /fine/ in your stead, Mori-san."

"You are just a—"

"Just /what?/" Akechi interrupts.

Mori purses his lips, clearly displeased. "Surely you aren't going
+
to trust your /boy/ with something this essential to the future of your kingdom, Your Majesty."

"Ranpo is not a /boy,/" Fumiyo corrects, the familiar cool, calm tone Ranpo knows her for finally returning. "He's twenty-two, and far sharper than many men twice his age only
+
dream of being. His /father/ included."

"Dear…"

Ranpo beams in amusement. "Exactly! Now let's get this settled properly, alright? Mori-san, there's a sitting room right through the door at the wall to your back, and I don't need to tell mother and father anything. Let's get
+
on with it, shall we?"

Mori sighs, rolling his eyes indignantly as he stands up. When he closes the folder and begins to pick it up, Ranpo reaches over to slap his hand over it.

Something sharp flickers in Mori's eyes, which Ranpo reflects in his own gaze.

"This can stay.
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I'd like to read it, since it /does/ involve me."

Ranpo takes a petty pride in watching how Mori's jaw works and he glances past Ranpo at his parents. He's quick to relent because he's clearly smart, but it's not without any contempt over having lost his fun. He turns away,
+
footsteps quick and sharp as he heads towards his sitting room, and Ranpo watches him the entire time until he disappears behind the door.

As for his parents, he turns to look at them, and offers a reassuring smile.

"Letting yourself slip at your old age?" he teases.
+
"… Perhaps," Akechi admits. "It's been… a long time, Ranpo, and we've carried this weight for /so long/ and—"

"I know, father," Ranpo reaches out to pat the older man's shoulder. "I'll take it from here. I /am/ better than you now, right?"

That makes his father snort,
+
rolling his eyes fondly as he ruffles Ranpo's hair. "Oh, don't let your mother's spoiling let you leap before looking."

Even if he says that, there's no worry on his face as he and his wife turn, heading to the door on the other side of the room that leads into another
+
sitting room.

Ranpo waits until they're gone, staring at the door and letting peaceful silence fill the air before he turns to the only other man in the room: the prince of the empire.

He looks so prim and proper, it makes Ranpo want to take a nail to the guy's knee with how
+
stiff he looks.

"You can relax, I really don't care as much as our parents do about that stuff."

Almost instantly, Bunji slouches in his chair with an exhausted sigh, pressing a hand to his forehead. "Thank /god/. You have no idea how much I didn't want to come to this
+
stupid thing with /Mori-san/ of all people—"

Ranpo walks back to the table, pulling out a chair to sit. "You looked like you were about to cry, so I spared you some of your dignity," he says with a shrug, reaching out for the black folder and opening it up with a hum.
+
"Anyway, let's just get straight to it: the Dazai family is made up of eight children, and all of them are male if I'm not mistaken."

"Uh, yes, we—"

"Got word from someone I'm gay, yes, obviously. Which brother is being placed upon the metaphorical sacrificial altar?"
+
Bunji blows out his cheeks as he sighs, looking up at the ceiling. "Well… Ya see—"

"Youngest then, got it. The disappointment child finally had some use and your father jumped at the chance."

"How are you even—"

+
"You don't think my parents kept your father boxed in for so long by /magic/, did you?"

"Of… course not."

Ranpo grins, expression full of pride. "My mother and father are two of the brightest minds this world has ever seen, and while I'm not entirely sure by how much,
+
they've told me I've far surpassed them. I can tell a lie from the slightest thing, I can pick you apart with just a glance."

"… With that level of skill, wouldn't it be easy for you to win this war?" Bunji mutters with a scowl.

"Maybe, but quite frankly, this country is
+
tired, and yours is too. They're desensitized, they don't care anymore, and that does nothing for a nation. The country will slowly but surely wither. Everything both of us have worked hard for? Nothing but dust. You want that to be your family's legacy? Decades of monotony, no
+
sense of morale, and for /what/? Does your father even remember what he wants anymore after this long?"

Bunji is silent for a long moment, pursing his lips as he lowers his head. He seems to genuinely consider the question as he thumbs at his bottom lip. "It's just—" cue a
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defeated sigh. "His pride, you know—"

"I've heard plenty about the /pride/ of the Dazai family," Ranpo rolls his eyes, which immediately earns a frown from Bunji, so he's quick to add, "Rest assured, I have my own pride too, but this is the truth of everything: war is not
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good or bad. It's never been about who's right. No matter if you believe you're the good side or the bad side, you still take lives. You still destroy the livelihood of others. My parents fought to defend, sure, but that has never been without accepting they had to kill too.
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I'm not gonna sit here like some dipshit, sucking this war's long since flaccid /cock/."

"You have a /way/ with words."

Ranpo smiles. "I know. Now, tell me about your darling disappointment brother your father wants to throw to the wolves. You can do that much, I'm sure."
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Bunji seems reluctant, as if it's an inconvenience, resting an elbow on the table. He's unraveling more and more, which is good for the process of the conversation. "What do you even want me to say? You know it's already the youngest, Osamu… Nineteen, a clumsy /idiot/ always
+
covered in bandages, and yet he's grinning all the time as if he doesn't have a care in the world. To make things worse, can you believe he's such an attention seeker, whining about wanting to die of all things," he scoffs hard at that. "Such a hypocrite. He's a prince, he's
+
given everything in the world, what could he possibly hate or be depressed about? /You/ must have it nice, being the only child here."

"… Well, my parents were too stressed to think about having another child during a time where our relatives kept dropping like flies 'n all."
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"Oh, right...

"The last relative died when I was fourteen, so it's not as if I got the time to be particularly attached."

It doesn't really matter in the end.

If all he has left are his parents, he'll do whatever he has to so they can be safe and happy.

"Is he cute?"
+
Bunji blinks. "What?"

"Your brother."

"He's… I— I guess? I don't know. He takes after our mother a lot."

Ranpo tents his hands, staring up at the ceiling pensively. "And I'm /assuming/ that this peace treaty that came out of /nowhere/ is most likely due to the fact your
+
father came across the fact your little brother is into men."

Bunji looks away with a grimace at the memory, perhaps with a bit of disgust. "He walked in on something, that's for sure. Father didn't take it well, and… yeah. He's been isolated for weeks now, and Mori-san
+
brought up this idea then— Well, here we are."

/Yikes./

"… Well, okay then."

"Okay what?"

"I'll marry your little brother, duh. Pay attention."

“/Seriously?/”

“I do have one condition, though.”

“And that is...?”

“He lives /here/.”
+
“That’s it?” Bunji looks genuinely /glad/ or relieved at the words. It's taking Ranpo everything not to slap him for the sheer lack of consideration, but --

He /is/ a Dazai.

“Yep. He won’t be missed, /clearly,/ so it’s not like I’m bending your arm much.” Ranpo
+
files through the papers, plucking out what looks like a blank sheet of paper matching that of the peace treaty. Then, he picks up a nearby pen, starting to write. “I’ll just write down this condition, we’ll both sign it, and call it a day. My mother and father and your
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/lovely/ Mori-san can handle the business portion just fine.”

“You’re... you’re seriously fine just selling your life away? Do you know who you’re signing up for?”

"Do /you/ know who I'm signing up for?"

What he’s really trying to say seems to go right over Bunji’s head, but
+
that’s fine, he supposes.

Ranpo shrugs as he sets down the pen on top of the paper, sliding both over to Bunji. “The sooner the better, right?” he says, offering a smile that does not reach his eyes.

Bunji picks up the pen, staring down at the paper with a sigh. He thinks for
+
a moment, then shakes his head as he begins signing. “You have my condolences in advance.”

---
A knock echoes from the other side of Dazai’s bedroom door. He doesn’t bother to turn his head to acknowledge it as he stares boredly out his window, but he mumbles loud enough for the person to hear—

“The door is locked from the outside. I couldn’t open it for you even if I
+
wanted to, Higuchi.”

There’s a moment of silence, followed by the crisp click of something unlocking before the door creaks open. A young blonde girl steps inside, a nervous frown on her face and making her brows furrow. She’s dressed in a typical maid outfit, though it’s
+
been slightly modified with bows on each hip for her own personal flair.

“We received word from your older brother who went to visit the Edogawa’s with Mori-san...” Higuchi begins slowly.

Dazai grinds his teeth as he turns to look at her, and he notices she’s holding a
+
letter in her hands. His eyes narrow suspiciously. “And?”

“Uh, well,” Higuchi holds up the letter. “I’m not sure if you want me to read it out loud.”

Dazai sighs dramatically as he pushes himself off of his windowsill. His black coat falls around his knees as he stands at
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his full height, much taller than Higuchi even with the heels she wears. A bandaged hand plucks the letter from her hands, and he opens it to pull it out. He sighs at first, because he rarely gets any sort of kindness from his older brothers and he certainly doesn’t expect any
+
different in letter format, but then —

“... Huh?”

Dazai looks up, caramel brown eyes widening in confusion at Higuchi.

“What the /hell/ is this?”

Higuchi fiddles with her hands. “... In the weeks since you’ve been held in isolation, His Majesty decided to marry you to the
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Edogawa’s only son as a way to solidify the peace treaty--"

"Peace treaty? /MY/ father?"

Higuchi flinches.

"Do you know how /insane/ that sounds? Since when was that a thing?! Why did it just-- spring up out of nowhere!"

"... According to him and Mori-sama--"

Dazai throws
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his hands up into the air. "Mori -- oh, yes, that just makes everything /much/ better. It makes total sense now. Great. Of course! Is there anything else? There's got to be. It's gotten this bad, it /has/ to get worse."

Higuchi hesitates for a moment. She waits, as if making
+
sure Dazai isn't going to say anything else before she adds softly, "Apparently, you’ll be moved to live in their castle while awaiting the wedding...”

Dazai drops the letter to the floor in favor of rubbing his hands down his face. He laughs behind them, but sounds /forced/.
+
"That's fantastic. Thank you." he says, letting his head fall back to stare up at the ceiling. “So that’s how it is. He’s just sending me to die because I’ve done the one thing he can’t overlook.”

“I don’t think you’ll die there—”

“Please, Higuchi,” Dazai turns away
+
away with a roll of his eyes. “After how long this war has dragged on? After all my father has done? I’ll be surprised if I last a week.”

“But—”

“Whatever. I don’t even care anymore. It’ll be an easy way to go, at least. I’m sure everything is already being packed for me
+
somewhere. When am I leaving?”

“... The day after tomorrow.”

"I see." Dazai slowly takes a seat on the edge of his bed. His expression drops slowly but surely, as if something else comes to mind. "And... what happened to /him/?"

Higuchi takes in a breath. The look on
+
Dazai's face is vulnerable, /pleading/. She shakes her head, no matter how much she wishes she could say otherwise. "He's been sent away, that's as far as I know. I don't know anything more than that, Your Highness..."

Dazai bows his head and nods. "It's fine. I figured as
+
as much."

He's used to never keeping anything, he's used to being under the most scrutiny, he's used to having everything he does be criticized and torn to pieces before he can even consider being proud of something. Seven is the lucky number, as everyone always says, and as
+
the eighth son —

Really, what else would be expected?

He's the family punching bag, plain and simple. Every grievance, every annoyance, every inconvenience — they were all taken out on him, and it was his job to /take it/. This is no different. At least... at least this once,
+
he'll have some genuine use for his family.

"Well," Dazai looks up, letting a perfectly fabricated smile tug at his lips. "Since I'm stuck here until they kick me out, and /you're/ here, care to have some fun with me, Higuchi?"

"Oh—" Higuchi blushes a vibrant red, struggling
+
for a moment as she opens and closes her mouth. She turns back to glance at the door, and very, very slowly...

she presses it shut.

"So long as... it's just a little while."

With Dazai, it never is.

---
warning: child abuse in this whole ass section

"Stop your petulant /glowering,/"

At six feet, with styled, short black hair and dark brown eyes, Dazai Gen'emon is a very striking figure. Even if he had no money, crown, or empire, he would still be quite the intimidating man.
+
Gazing at him for long is hard without being filled with the urge to look away, and he felt a sick sense of pride in that.

Unfortunately, his youngest son, Osamu, never did that. He would stare, squint, and scowl without ever flinching, and Gen'emon /hated that/. If he were
+
old enough to be thrown onto the battlefield, maybe then he would have had some use... However, he was born just a year after the war started. By the time he was 18, there was nothing worth fighting.

Such a waste.

A waste of his flesh and blood, a waste of his goddamn money
+
and time.

The one thing Gen'emon thought he'd be good for is at least giving grandchildren, but no, he finds the brat in bed with some silver haired library boy. Ungrateful, so willfully ignorant, and even now he has the balls to /glare/ and seem /angry/. The stupid boy
+
doesn't even know what's good for him.

/I gave you life. You owe me for that./

"What did you do with Atsushi?" Dazai demands, and his tone is more than enough to infuriate Gen'emon even more.

"He was sent away. You know that much /yourself/."
+
"You know that's not what I'm asking." Dazai's expression sours more.

"What does it matter? You have another man to /fawn over/ now.”

His son scoffs and rolls his eyes, turning his head to glare out of the carriage’s window instead. “It must be easy viewing human lives
+
as items to replace. I suppose you wouldn’t have put up with a war for twenty years if you didn’t, though.”

“Don’t speak on something you know nothing about. You never set foot on the battlefield.”

“For once in your life, could you /not/ redirect so I sound like an ignorant,
+
stupid child? I’m not talking about war,” Dazai growls. “I’m talking about you. You are /selling/ me, because it’s more profitable than keeping me. Then again, you always hated me, didn’t you?”

“I hate that you are /ungrateful!/” Gen’emon snaps back, his aging face twisting
+
into a snarl of disgust. “You’re nineteen years old, and just what good have you brought to our family? This /legacy/ we have built?”

“When do you /look/?! Countless times I’ve tried to show you my accomplishments in an attempt to appease you, but you /never/ looked! You only
+
did when I messed up, when I was an example of /failure/. No matter how much I do, it’s never going to matter, because there are /seven other sons/ who have done it before me, and /better/. Don’t act as if there’s a way I could really make you proud and actually /like me/!
+
Don’t lie — you were waiting for me to fuck up to have an excuse to send me away, weren’t you?”

Dazai leans forward, elbows digging into his knees, eyes narrowed in /hatred/ towards his father.

“Even though you know I have /no/ issue still doing the one thing you think I’m
+
still good for, because I can please a woman just /fine/. You just realized this has a way of getting me out of your hair for /good/—”

His sentence is cut off by a sharp slap to his cheek, sending his head whipping to the side from the force.

It stings, but all it does is
+
fuel the fire in Dazai’s heart more. His lip curls up in disgust, but his father knows him just as well as the case is in reverse — so he gives a pathetic whimper when a large hand is grabbing at his hair, jerking his head upright to meet the king’s gaze.

“Do this one thing
+
right, then: shut up and do as you’re told, Osamu. As my child, that is your /job/. You /listen/, you /obey/, you /don’t/ ask questions. Are we /clear/?”

Dazai lowers his gaze, watching his hands clench so tightly that his palms sting from his nails piercing his skin.
+
He doesn’t answer, but his silence seems to be enough for Gen’emon to be satisfied.

The door of the carriage opens then, making the two look over.

In the doorway is Mori, who gives a quick glance between the father and son before he sighs, giving a chiding look at Dazai.
+
“Really, Osamu-kun, would it be such a pain to not inconvenience your father? Haven’t you done enough as of recently?” Mori asks, and Gen’emon nods approvingly, as if it should be the obvious thing to say. “Should I move him to a separate carriage for the long ride ahead,
+
Your Majesty?”

“It’s fine, Ougai. The boy will behave, or else.”

Dazai laughs emptily. “Or /what/? Really, what else is worse than what you’re doing to me? You know damn well they’re going to kill me, and you don’t even /care/. You both profit no matter what way this ends.”
+
He leans towards Mori in his seat, voice a venomous whisper, “I know father promised to make you head general if the war continues. It’d be so /easy/ to use my murder as an excuse to prolong this, don’t you think?”

/Even though you'd spit on my shallow, unmarked grave./
+
A hand meets the back of his head, and his forehead slams painfully into a decorative arm rest. He hears the wood splinter from the force, and his forehead aches.

His father always had a heavy hand with him, and only him.

Really, he can’t recall ever seeing his other siblings
+
be touched in such a way. He would stare from afar at the affectionate touches atop their heads or shoulders, but every touch Dazai was ever given—

It was searing hot pain and cold emotionless void at the same time.

Mori doesn’t so much as blink, seeming completely
+
disinterested in the sight. “Sir, your wife is approaching, by the way.”

And his mother— Tane was so kind, so gentle, a loving mother who would stroke the newest injury he was nursing from his father, always lying about the origin. She was painfully fragile, always nursing a
+
cough, always fussed over by so many people that Dazai rarely got to spend time with her. Usually, when he was injured, he ended up in Mori’s care instead and...

/There’s a reason why he wears bandages all the time now./

For such a large family, the circle was so closely
+
knit together without him, he could never dream of trying to be a part of it.

He doesn’t know if his vision blurs from the pain in his head as he sits up, or if it’s something he’s buried and promised himself to never show in front of his /damned father/, but he hears Tane’s
+
voice first before he sees her.

“Ougai, there you are! I told you to wait for me!”

Mori puts on the most perfect smile as he turns halfway in the direction of the voice, literally beaming by the time Dazai’s mother appears in the doorway of the carriage as well. “Your
+
Majesty, I was merely ensuring your things were all here before retrieving you. You could have waited in your quarters.”

“Oh, the last time I did that, you all left without me. That was— During Osamu’s last outing with you and Gen’emon to trade some paintings. I so wanted to
+
enjoy the collection with him.”

That was totally on purpose, of course.

Every time Tane has missed outings where Dazai is called, it’s intentional to leave her behind ‘on accident’.

That way, she’ll believe the putrid lies that Mori spills to explain her son’s newest set of
+
set of bandages, his cast, or his crutch.

And over time, the order pounded into Dazai’s head to lie to her and spare her ailing health just became second nature. He fell into the familiar motions of being complicit in his pain, letting it happen, because the quicker he did
+
it, the easier the problem would be brushed off and he could try to forget.

“Oh— Osamu dear, what happened to your forehead? You’re bleeding!”

Somewhere along the way, the charade of being a careless boy who wanted to die wasn’t even a lie anymore.
+
So like the idiot boy he is, he forces a grin that edges on the line of /painful/, rubbing at the back of his head as his mother climbs into the carriage with a handkerchief in hand to press against his head.

“I slipped and hit my head when climbing into the carriage!”
+
“Oh, love, you really are such a clumsy thing,” Tane sighs, but there’s a fond smile on her face.

For a fleeting moment, Dazai feels... at peace. Safe. Loved.

Then the carriage door closes, with Mori and Gen’emon sitting across from them, watching in cold silence, and
+
nausea Dazai has learned to associate with /fear/ and /coerced guilt/ creeps up his throat.

“I’m... I’ll be okay, mother,” Dazai says softly, reaching for her hand to take it in his own. He looks down, incapable of meeting her gaze as he /lies/, adding, “Mori-san will fix it
+
later at our next stop.”

It will be the first and last time he ever does, if only because Tane is here to see him do it.

---
“His Majesty Gen’emon and his wife have officially departed. They will arrive in approximately four days.” A young man with blond hair declares as he quickly steps into the lounge room where the Edogawa family is sitting, bowing his head respectfully towards Akechi.
+
Akechi looks up from his papers, shoulder length black hair a ruffled mess as he scratches at it tiredly. It’s not brushed, nor even put up into it’s usual half up-do, and his eyes are tired. “Thank you for the update, Kunikida.”

“Should I prepare rooms for them and their
+
company?”

Akechi leans back in his chair with a sigh. “I doubt Gen’emon will want to stay longer than he has to,” he casts a long look over at his son, who’s sitting at the windowsill, with his legs hanging outside to kick into the air freely. “But one for the prince should
+
be enough.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Make it the one across from mine, Kunikida.” Ranpo adds, leaning back from where he sits. He keeps himself from falling with admirable leg and abdomen strength.

“I’ll keep it in mind.” With another small bow, Kunikida takes a step back, turns, and
+
leaves the room.

Fumiyo looks over at her son as she brushes her hair, long, silky black strands pulled over one shoulder as her hand works. “Ranpo, are you really sure about this?”

“Even if I wasn’t anymore, the papers have already been signed,” Ranpo says, turning to hop
+
down on the floor, rounding the couch to sit next to his mother. Her face is creased in a frown, and he reaches out to cup her cheek tenderly. “You and father have spent your entire lives sacrificing yourselves for me, and for what you love. It’d be strange if your son weren’t
+
the same way, don’t you think?”

Fumiyo smiles gently, covering her son's hand with hers. "I just..." her voice breaks a little, "I don't want you to live unhappily, when we've tried so hard to /protect/ you."

"You don't know if I'll be unhappy. Not even /I/ do."
+
Ranpo flops onto his mother's lap, humming contentedly when her hand combs through his hair. "Besides, his family doesn't seem to like him, so he's probably nothing like what you guys are up against. I have the easy part! You should be more worried about yourselves."
+
Akechi hasn't been sleeping well.

Ranpo is worried, but the man is usually too stubborn to listen to /him/. Fumiyo on the other hand, she can reel him in, so Ranpo is smart enough to work on her /first/.

"You guys should rest," Ranpo says at last, waiting until they both
+
look at him to continue, "Paperwork will always be there, and there will always be stuff to do, but you can't look under the weather in front of that guy— right? His emissary was slimy enough."

His parents stare at him, look at each other, then back at him.

Ranpo feels a
+
lump in his throat.

He sits up, crossing his legs on the couch and hugging himself self-consciously. "...I don't want to lose you both to stress and overwork. It's not a violent end like the rest of our family, but that makes it worse because it's slow, and I have to /watch/." +
/And I'm scared. I don't want to be alone./

/Don't leave me alone./

"Ranpo..."

"One day, I'm going to be king," he continues, squeezing painfully tight. "And I want you two to still be there when that crown is placed on my head. I want the ceremony to be done properly,
+
with father putting it on me himself— and I know, if one of you goes, the other isn't far behind."

/You're inseparable, even at the end of the world, and I've always loved that— but right now, it worries me./
+
"I don't regret what I chose to do. I won't. That's what that guy wants, and you both know it— he's trying to hurt you using me, but that only works if I'm a victim, if I let myself hate it without even knowing anything." He can taste bile in the back of his throat, eyes
+
burning with something not quite hate, but nothing close to selfless determination either.

Perhaps spite is the best word for it.

/Just let him try me./

He sighs, closing his eyes and trying to calm himself. "Look, until the Dazai's are here... let me take over on
+
paperwork and official duties, okay? I'll have Kunikida help so you don't worry, but you two really need to /breathe/. The road from here is long, and I can't do it all without you."

The silence that follows is heavy and suffocating. It makes Ranpo want to run back to the
+
window to gasp for air, but—

But his mother is hugging him from behind, and his chest /throbs/.

He can feel Fumiyo's forehead against the back of his shoulder, warm and /grounding/.

"You've been working hard too, Ranpo," she says, her voice soft. "Sometimes I forget you're
+
not my little baby anymore. You've grown into such a good man, Ranpo."

Ranpo smiles lightly, looking over at his father who is watching them pensively. "I had a good teacher or two for that."

That makes Akechi break into a light smile as he bows his head to look down at his
+
hands. "You make it hard to argue with you."

"I'm an Edogawa, after all. /Arguing/ is what we do best."

"We simply debate and give invaluable input," Akechi corrects, with all the confidence in the world as he stands to his feet.

"And we're always right and get our way, so
+
same thing. Now both of you stand up, go to your room, and sleep. I'm telling Fukuzawa-san to keep an eye on you too, so don't try to be slick."

"Fukuzawa has other work to do—"

"Which is already finished. Stop trying to work yourself to death and go." Ranpo stands to his
+
feet, walking over to Akechi. "For me, please?"

Akechi sighs at him, shoulders sagging in exhaustion. "You've long since covered all the bases before this conversation, haven't you?"

Ranpo puts his hands on his hips, smirking proudly. "If you weren't pushing yourself to
+
exhaustion, you would've noticed a second into looking at me. I hate paperwork, so don't expect me to do this for you again till I take over— so go on!"

To Ranpo's surprise, instead of some snarky comment in return, his father hugs him close and /tight/. Green eyes widen in
+
confusion, but he remains still as Akechi buries his face in his son's neck.

"We are... so proud of you, Ranpo," Akechi says softly. "You're our pride and joy. There's nothing on this earth that we love more than you. I would throw away this crown in a heartbeat for you—
+
for this family."

Ranpo raises a hand slowly, patting his father's back gently. "I know, but you can't do that. There are other people who are depending on you right now more than ever before."

Admittedly, Ranpo is selfish. As an only child, sharing has never been one of
+
his strong suits. When he was younger, he would always cling to one of his parents, glare down anyone he thought was a threat to their attention, and sometimes even run away from his school lessons just to follow after his parents in secret as they went about their day.

They
+
always knew, of course, and the second Ranpo was distracted by something else, he'd suddenly be picked up by his father from behind and thrown over a shoulder.

"Get going, before you fall asleep standing up and hugging me." Ranpo says at last, pulling away from the embrace.
+
"/Both/ of you. I can handle things here."

“If you need us—”

“I do need you. That’s why I’m asking you to /go/.”

Akechi finally relents, making a pout that shows just how much Ranpo clearly takes after him while heading towards the door. He meets his wife there,
+
and before she heads out with him—

“Mother.”

Fumiyo stops, looking over at Ranpo.

He smiles warmly. “No matter how old I get, no matter what happens, I’m always gonna be your baby.”

---
Two and a half days into the Dazai’s trek, they reach the border of the Edogawa’s territory.

As arranged with Mori during the treaty signing, they’re waiting on the outskirts to be met by the Edogawa’s head knight to escort them to the castle. After having thoroughly
+
discussed the pros and cons of the meeting, it was decided that, at the outskirts, they would change carriages fitting to that of the Edogawa Family’s so that no harm would come to them, while those of the Dazai’s would be watched over dutifully until their return.

A very
+
smart decision on the Edogawa’s part, really.

They’re thorough, smart, and never doubt that their next move will succeed.

No matter how much Dazai’s father hated Edogawa Akechi, at the same time, how much Gen’emon acknowledged how strong and intelligent Akechi is was /very/
+
apparent.

Still, Dazai thinks that there may be some underlying, petty reason that their meeting spot is in the remnants of a destroyed village, where only a few crumbling stone walls remain, and piles of dirt are overgrown with grass and flowers.

Mori said it was
+
most likely symbolic, as this was the first village that was attacked when the war started—

/‘This ends where it started.’/

If only that were really the truth.

“Are you nervous?”

Dazai jumps a bit, turning his head to look at his mother who sits down next to him in the
+
grass. He relaxes almost instantly when she leans into him, but he makes sure to glance back and check how close his father and Mori are first—

Luckily, they’re a good distance away, standing just outside the carriage while having a conversation.

Good.

“Nervous about what?”
+
“About meeting your fiancé, of course.”

“Ah...” Dazai gives a lopsided smile. “Something like that.”

It’s not as if he can say to his mother, ‘Hey, father is remorselessly selling me without giving a shit if I’m murdered because that’s actually exactly what he’s hoping
+
for to further his agenda.’

Tane has been ignorant since the beginning, and she’ll be ignorant at the very end.

A part of Dazai that has longed to spend time with her like this is screaming, /please don’t let him leave me, please help me, I’m scared— /
+
But that part of him has also long since been beaten into submission for his so-called selfishness. He can’t inconvenience his mother with his feelings, he can’t demand her attention when others deserve it more, he can’t cry for her help because /he’s nineteen, he’s not a
+
fucking helpless child— /

“I hear the prince is quite handsome,” Tane continues, and she has no idea how much she /saves/ her son while snapping him back to reality. “He has gorgeous eyes, just like the queen.”

“Oh, yeah?” Dazai snorts, unimpressed. “Who told you that?”
+
“One of your sister-in-laws. Apparently she used to live here, isn’t that something?”

For a long moment, all Tane receives in silence. She stares at her son, who twirls a flower he had plucked from the grass in his hand, brightening visibly when he speaks again.
+
“... What else do you know about him?”

“You don’t know anything? Bunji relayed everything to me and your father... I was certain he would do the same for you as well.”

Internally, Dazai rolls his eyes. “I guess he forgot,” he says, forcing a smile. “Can you tell me?”
+
“Well...” Tane hums, tapping her chin. “He’s on the short side, Bunji said— chin height for you— but he’s a few years your senior.”

That’s a little reassuring, in an amusing way.

“Bunji described him as ‘terrifyingly intelligent’,” she laughs at that. “But that’s only
+
expected from the only son of Akechi and Fumiyo. Oh, and strangely enough, he didn’t argue the requirement of marriage...”

Okay, that’s weird. “He didn’t?”

“Apparently, his parents were against it, but he seized control of the situation and sorted out the marriage situation
+
independently with Bunji. He was fine with it, and the only request he had was that you live with them. It seems he doesn’t hold any negative feelings one way or another towards us,” Tane smiles, breathing out a relieved sigh. “That’s the part I am most happy over... such a
+
lovely, mature boy. I’m excited to meet him.”

Dazai can’t help but stare, /absolutely baffled/.

The last living heir to the Edogawa throne, who watched all his other relatives drop like flies at the hands of the Dazai family, not caring about /any/ of this?

He can’t wrap his
+
mind around it, but Bunji would rather eat glass than lie in front of their father, and Tane has never breathed an ill word in her life, so—

Just... who the /hell/ had his life been forfeit to?

Now, Dazai is genuinely interested.

No, no, wait, he’s not /interested/—
+

• • •

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More from @beastranpo

5 Feb
eeeeee uncomfortable.
i try to be chill here about the people who interact w my tweets but if you kin ranpo i may block you for my own comfort. like my main says this much but still. figured I'd say it here. its an assured block if youre a minor.
obvs if u follow my main you know i have no issue with kinnies but my comfort charas and my portrayal are ridiculously important to me and I've had kinnies of them shove their kinning onto me when i am not talking about them saying things like "haha yea i would do that cuz im
Read 7 tweets
5 Feb
u ever just think about how ranpo had no one in his life that cared for him after the death of his parents and the justice system his father told him he could rely on betrayed him and kicked him out on the streets and he could have died or been kidnapped at any point and no one
would have ever noticed or cared because he had no other family but his parents who were everything to him
YOU EVER THINK ABOUT HOW HE WAS ISOLATED, OSTRACIZED, AND TREATED POORLY BY OTHERS AND SEEN AS A MONSTER FOR THE THINGS HE COULD SEE AND NOTICE CUZ HE THOUGHT IT WAS NORMAL BC HIS PARENTS WERE THAT SMART TOO BUT THE REST OF THE WORLD ISNT LIKE THEM SO ALL IT DID WAS MAKE
Read 5 tweets
4 Feb
dazai and ranpo the second they first meet both think the same thing about each other and that is "he's pretty" bc these bitches gay
ranpo: wanna play 20 questions
dazai: sure
ranpo: ok I'll go first. do you like men
dazai: (literally just bursts with laughter
there's a few reasons why dazai is the disappointment and his lack of heterosexuality is one of them so when his parents heard of ranpo they thought wow this kid is finally useful :\
Read 4 tweets
4 Feb
man that arranged marriage au is rotting my brain what do i do help me as i am haunted by betrothed princes ranpo and dazai who get along so perfectly it's creepy
yall love to watch me be a one man circus for my otp huh
Read 4 tweets
24 Dec 20
through the messy black locks. This makes Ranpo hum contentedly, nuzzling into Dazai's hand while opening his eyes tiredly. He squints not long after, scrunching his face childishly, but instead of burying his face in Dazai's neck or pulling up the covers, he grab's Dazai's
+
hand to kiss the palm gently.

/Oh./

"Good morning to you too." Dazai says, scoffing in fond amusement.

"Hmm. Yeah." Ranpo leans up to kiss Dazai gently. "I need to wear you down more during the night, it seems. Waking up before me all the time isn't gonna fly, you know."
+
Dazai is just a habitual light sleeper, learning to function on little sleep. In terms of being exhausted, Ranpo accomplishes /that/ just fine, because he's insatiable and relentless if the bite marks on Dazai's neck and shoulder where his bandages had fallen loose say
+
Read 484 tweets

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