Renji: Anyone could tell you that there was something odd about the prince. Most of them would even take the time to debate with you over whether or not it was a good thing that he was the way he was. Those of us who have actually had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the crown prince all agreed that his seriousness would mean good things for our country, especially on the heels of his parents' frivolousness. Still, most people –even those who had met him– wouldn't even hazard a guess as to why he was so different. What set me apart from those people is that I had more than just a notion as to the answer to the question that plagued the kingdom. Byakuya, the Kōketsuna Prince, had old eyes. He'd simply seen too much darkness despite his mere seventeen years. It could probably be blamed –at least in part– on his upbringing: his parents, who didn't care about him once they had their male heir, who left him to be reared by various callous nannies, tutors, and aids. Or maybe part of it should be blamed on the death of the beautiful Hisana, his young wife of three short years, who had passed away suddenly despite her valiant struggle against the illness she had been fighting as long as I'd known her. As she left this world, she took his elusive smile with her. Even before then, Prince Byakuya had always been a very serious child. His posture was impeccable, his mannerisms perfect, and his speech precise, but he'd never smiled or played as much as any other boy I'd ever met. I'd hoped that when Hisana became his bride when he was thirteen that she would bring out his smile more and help him open up more, but since her death, he'd become even more stiff and distant from everyone, even from his younger sister, Princess Rukia. I'd been with the prince his entire life. I was his personal aid, assigned to him on the day of his birth. Perhaps that was why I was always so concerned about him: I had practically raised him. However, the truth was that while he trusted me more than the others –perhaps because I'd been there to change his diapers, play with him when he was young, and answer his awkward teenage questions, rather than in spite of those facts– he still did not completely trust me, nor did he always take me into his confidence. However, I was still privy to certain information that most people never knew –things like the fact that despite the three-year marriage, the shared chambers, and the shared bed, Hisana and Byakuya both remained chaste even up to her death. The commoner bride of the crown prince had also become very close to me, and she shared other tidbits of personal information about the prince because I was one of the only people who knew enough about her husband to understand. In fact, I'd been the one to suggest to Byakuya that he smear blood on the sheets to not shame his wife to his kingdom. Very few people knew enough of the prince to know that his tastes didn't run toward the fairer sex, and that would be a disastrous fact to become widely known: the people would panic and worry about the fate of the throne, and that was leaving off the stigma that came with being gay. In fact, I believed that even Princess Rukia was still in the dark about her brother's sexuality, and she would be enraged if she knew how long she had been kept in the dark. Tomorrow, Prince Byakuya would become of age. Shopping for the crown prince would be a difficult task for even me. The big question is always, 'What do you get the man who has everything?' Any special occasion –birthdays, Christmas, other decadent affairs of state– just served to increase his amount of 'everything'. I was curious to see the variety of gifts that would arrive at the palace tomorrow, because even the lower classes loved the Kōketsuna Prince. Luckily for me, I already knew the perfect gift for the chaste prince, and I had taken pains to arrange for it to be properly prepared and waiting for him. Now, if only I could arrange a way to whisk the prince out of his gilded cage for a night so he could enjoy it.