K – Return of Kings: Prelude - novelonlinefull.com
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When Kusanagi, stifling a yawn, set foot in his bar, there was already someone inside. That someone was Kushina Anna, the current Red King, freeloading off Bar HOMRA. Seated in her usual spot on the couch, she was looking through a few sheets of paper enthusiastically.
Leaving the ringing door bell behind him, Kusanagi raised his hand in an easy greeting, “Morning, Anna.”
“Good morning, Izumo.”
“Sleeping.” The red eyes glanced at the ceiling briefly.
Presently, Anna lived on the second floor of Bar HOMRA. It was that way when Suoh was around, and it did not change after his death. Although for a period she lived elsewhere, after having awakened as the Red King, she returned to this bar.
However, she was still only a little girl, even if she did have the power of the Red King, and with “jungle” on the move, there was no way Kusanagi could leave her all alone. As such, the Homura members took turns staying at the bar to guard her, but…
Kusanagi sighed heavily and stared at the ceiling as well.
“What a hopeless guy. He’s completely lacking understanding of what being the Princess’s knight means.”
“…So you, too, would prefer "Princess”, after all, Izumo?“
Kusanagi, who didn’t expect that sort of reply to his casual comment, blinked in surprise. As Anna shifted her gaze back to look down at the sheet in her hand, Kusanagi went around the couch and peeked at the sheet over Anna’s head.
Written down on it were all those nicknames that the idiots thought up for Anna.
Among them, there was a line that read, “The Red King’s route "Princess Anna” who is loved and protected by her knights" astounding in its unadulterated stupidity.
“…Would it be better if I acted like this?”
“No, no, no, no, no! I-It wouldn’t, Anna, I a.s.sure you!”
The idiots’ stupid discussion, that started with the idea to come up with a nickname, or rather, a second name for Anna, escalated, taking progressively more nonsensical turns, until it bore fruit - an absolutely abysmal and hopelessly embarra.s.sing t.i.tle that they tried to push on Anna. Anna wanted no piece of it, and her brutally cool-headed comments tore it to shreds. All of it happened only yesterday, but Kusanagi, after sleeping on it, forgot about the whole ordeal completely.
Anna, however, apparently hadn’t.
“…Ohime-sama… Princess… Sir Kusanagi…”
“Calm down! Get a hold of yourself!”
Kusanagi grabbed the girl, who began muttering under her breath, by the shoulders and shook her violently. When she looked back at him, her crimson eyes were alight with uncertainty.
“O-Okay, listen, Anna. As I’ve already told you yesterday, that schtick is a temporary disease that only 2nd year middle school boys catch, something like measles, if you want. And it’s absolutely not something you should concern yourself with!”
“Really? Then it’s OK if I don’t become Princess Anna?”
“That’s right! You just need to be yourself, is all!”
Lucidity started to return into Anna’s eyes, and Kusanagi felt immensely relieved. He knew that Anna, being so painfully young, tended to be swayed by things pertaining to her kingly power and the responsibility she shouldered, but he never imagined that some stupid idle gossip would cause her so much worry, although that it did probably went to show just how pure Anna was. ‘Oh boy, purity of a child is a seriously scary thing,’ Kusanagi muttered to himself in his mind.
Anna inclined her head to the side and smiled a little with her eyes. “…I understand. Thank you, Izumo.”
“You’re welcome. But, well, they sure put a lot of thought in it,” Kusanagi said with a smile pointing to the sheet in Anna’s hand.
Anna looked at it again and whispered quietly, “…"Scarlet Lady Anna”…“
”…Anna?“ Kusanagi called out to her on an instinct, and the reply came in an uneven, shaken voice.
“Don’t tell me you actually like it?”
Denial was immediate and was accompanied by a glare in Kusanagi’s direction. Moreover, her abnormally pale cheeks were flushed - probably with shame.
Izumo’s jaw dropped, and he knew he needed to pick it up off the floor asap. Because if he didn’t, he was in a very real danger of bursting out laughing, and if he did end up laughing, Anna would not talk to him for all eternity to come - or at least for the whole of the next week for sure.
“Of course you wouldn’t. Alright, I’ll dispose of these then.”
As Kusanagi promptly s.n.a.t.c.hed the sheets away from Anna, she made a little disappointed noise.
Hiding those pieces of paper that could very well be called dangerous in a certain sense in his pocket, Kusanagi thought, ’…Oh well, Anna is almost of a 2nd year middle school student age herself, I guess.’