So of course, I started reading the book again, for about the sixth time. I became very, very sleepy at around the point when Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance. And of course, we all know that when I'm sleepy, I write. This time I started to write while wondering, "What if homosexuality was acceptable in Jane Austen's England, and it was all boys who were going through all this drama? And what if it were the Tenipuri boys??" Hence, these little snippets of fic that don't make sense, and that I may continue if I feel like it.
Some things you should know:
Momo and Ryoma are brothers; Nanjiroh and Rinko are their parents.
Fuji and Yuuta are also brothers; they were orphaned young and Fuji has the guardianship of Yuuta.
Oishi and Kikumaru are a couple who are definitely going to be engaged soon.
And Mizuki and Tezuka are both members of a party who has come to the country from London (yes, I know, very cliche. I am ashamed.)
“Oh, my dear, have you heard? No, you must have, the news is everywhere about town!” Eiji fluttered, evidently most excited by whatever news he was about to divulge.
Ryoma said, “Do calm down, Eiji, and tell me what has happened,” his expression remaining most serene. This seemed only to excite Eiji further, until Ryoma very nearly feared he would go into hysterics.
“Well, it’s said- and I saw it, too, or part of it! - that Yuuta Fuji has run off with that Mr. Mizuki! And of course, with Mr. Mizuki’s reputation we all fear the worst! Syuusuke was most vexed, and here was the part I saw myself: the very instant he’d heard what happened, he rode off directly to London to search for his brother there! And we were in the midst of a lovely tea, and I told him to wait until the biscuits were served but of course he wouldn’t.” Eiji paused to take a breath and to fix his hat, which, Ryoma noted, had become rather rakishly tilted to the side.
“So he left for London, leaving me to take tea by myself, which was very rude of him indeed, but given the circumstances, who wouldn’t forgive him?” Eiji sighed most dramatically. “Although I think it’s very much a pity. Yuuta was quite taken with Mr. Mizuki, and I do believe Mr. Mizuki felt the same. Do you know, he wouldn’t stand up with nearly anyone else during the last ball! And of course Syuusuke will go and duel him or some such and one of them will be killed, and then poor Yuuta!”
Eiji seemed about to go on, but Ryoma, having had enough but being just polite enough not to say it directly, looked out across the road. “Oh look, Eiji, Mr. Oishi’s just come out of the hat shop.”
“Oh!” cried the one so addressed. “Please do excuse me!” He bowed to Ryoma, who bowed in return, and then Eiji hurried across the street to speak with Mr. Oishi. It was a lucky chance, that Mr. Oishi had shown up when he did; everyone knew that Eiji and Mr. Oishi would be engaged within the year.
Ryoma walked slowly down the path, nodding absently to those he knew. He supposed he would have to tell Takeshi about Yuuta Fuji and Mr. Mizuki, although Takeshi would almost certainly overreact, which would be most tiresome and would most likely take the better part of an hour that could be better spent elsewhere. But if he chose not to divulge this bit of gossip, and Takeshi discovered it for himself at a later date, which he almost certainly would, then Takeshi would berate him for keeping it secret, for of course “brothers are intended to tell one another everything!” in Takeshi’s own words.
The dinner was quite lovely. All of the several courses were so lavish that all of the ladies and gentlemen alike exclaimed over what expense their hosts must have gone to. Mrs. Kikumaru, Eiji’s mother, beamed and accepted the compliments with fine good spirit and humility.
Ryoma did no more than pick at his food, although Takeshi ate heartily. Ryoma watched Mr. Echizen, hoping and praying that his father would, this time, hold his tongue. And for the first part of the meal, it seemed as though a miracle had been granted him. Mr. Nanjiroh Echizen was quiet and mannerly, or at least as mannerly as ever he was. He did make one comment about a bit of fat he found on the meat, but his wife hushed him quickly, smiling apologetically and discreetly at those gathered around the table.
Ryoma found himself distracted from his intentions by Takeshi, who whispered urgently in his ear that Mr. Kaidoh was staring again, and wasn’t it terribly rude of him? Ryoma made some idle remark in return, turning away from his watching of their father for only a moment. But a moment was long enough for the miracle to be dissolved.
“That Mr. Kaidoh is the most aggravating man I’ve ever met!” Takeshi stormed into the room with much waving and gesturing to indicate his extreme displeasure. Ryoma reminded him, “Mother says you’re to stop becoming so overexcited. She says it’s damaging to your health.”
Takeshi waved him off. “Oh, I know what Mother says! She cannot possibly know how vexed this evening has made me, though!” He pulled off his hat and set it down on the bed, and sat down beside it, arms obstinately folded.
“You knew he would be there,” Ryoma told him. “Why on earth did you bother going?”
Takeshi looked at Ryoma in disbelief, as though Ryoma had suggested something absolutely unspeakable. “It was a party. I was invited. And the food, at least, was absolutely divine! But oh, that Mr. Kaidoh, how he irritates me! And do you know, I think he intends to do it!”
“I’m certain he doesn’t; now stop, you’re overreacting again, and what will Mother say if she hears you?” Ryoma let his hair out and set the pins on the dresser. “I’m more concerned with Father’s behavior, honestly.”
“Oh, father,” said Takeshi, waving a hand in dismissal. “He’s been worse, hasn’t he?”
“Yes, but not by much,” said Ryoma. He was thinking of the gentleman who had taken Higa house, the one with the severe demeanor and expression...and somehow, something more than that as well. Surely Mr. Tezuka had been taken aback by their father’s behavior, although he’d been polite not to show such a thing in civilized company. Ryoma sighed, and of course Takeshi caught on to his dismay immediately, a thing he did whenever Ryoma wished to keep some thought from him.
“What is it? Whyever did you sigh just now, brother?” Takeshi peered keenly at Ryoma, standing and walking over to him. Then he smiled knowingly at Ryoma’s reflection in the mirror. “Was there someone at the party you wished to impress? Well, if there was you can give up all hope of that. With Father around neither of us will ever impress anyone, I’m sure. I suppose the both of us will die without ever having married, for I very much doubt that anyone will have us.”
“Oh do look!” said Eiji to Ryoma, nearly prancing in his place with delight. “Takeshi’s stood up with Mr. Kaidoh, didn’t you see? And both of them look terribly unhappy with themselves, don’t they?”
They did, of course, as Ryoma saw when he cast a glance at the dancers. His mind told him spitefully that Takeshi deserved it, after all the affront and insults he’d given to the other gentleman. And Takeshi had been asked to dance, at least, which was more than Ryoma had gotten this evening. Mr. Oishi had asked him once, but that was only out of kindness and because Eiji had requested it of him, which wasn’t at all the same thing as being asked to dance because someone truly wanted to ask.
Ryoma was well aware that he didn’t look at all gentlemanly with a tight-lipped scowl on his face, but this was really too much. It was probably Father’s fault again, although he’d been too ill, probably from some bad wine or another, to come tonight. The fact that his father was not generally regarded as favorable company caused the reputation of his sons, too, to be cast under some speculation.