This story is by Emma Gonzalez and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Indigo smiled at the sight of the castle. On a day like this, he can relax knowing his prince is safe within those walls. Birds sang above his head, following the sound of a rhythmic smack. Aspolia truly was a lovely place.
“If he truly loved you, then he wouldn’t be engaged to someone else. He’s marrying the princess of Trania,” Tilly went on. She never seemed to stop when she was on an insult streak. Seems like her specialty is ruining beautiful days with her unnecessary remarks about other people’s lives.
Tilly’s further comments were interrupted by a yelp coming from behind the two. Indigo turned to the tree where his friend Rowan was sparring with a training dummy.
“I-I think there was a ladybug on that training dummy,” Rowan said. “I’m pretty sure I… killed it.”
Tilly ignored the knight and continued, “Prince Nico can’t marry a guy. That’s not how things work around here.”
“What if it didn’t have to be that way?” Indigo argued back.
“You shouldn’t be in a relationship with the person you work for, Indigo. Have a sense of duty for once, will you?”
“Guys. Hear me out,” Rowan reached for his two friends, “Prince Nico needs you, Indigo. I think he’s ready to make a full commitment to you,”
Rowan paused for a few seconds. Suddenly, he gasped, “Maybe he can talk to Princess Ai about what’s going on. If she understands then they can get married and Prince Nico can become King Nico. He’ll have the power he needs to spark the change this kingdom needs!”
“Once that happens, he can start a homosexual revolution! Then the two of you can get together and Queen Ai can politely step aside,” Rowan picked up his sword from the ground and began swinging it at his training dummy, “and if anyone talks shit about you two, I can take care of them myself.”
“I… I like your idea,” said Indigo.
“So go tell him!”
Indigo and Tilly glared at one another as if Tilly was daring him to go. All of a sudden, Indigo started to run.
He went through the castle-town, excusing himself as he ran past the villagers who stared at him but went about their days. He was nervous, but he couldn’t stop running. He wanted to wait and save this ordeal for another time, but this was the time to act. He felt like he wouldn’t get another chance.
At long last, Indigo made it to the gates of the castle. The guards let him in right away. No one didn’t know who Indigo was. He was famous after all, wasn’t he? He wasn’t the personal guard of a prince. No, he was Indigo, a man whose heart is filled with love.
That same love took him to the door of Prince Nico’s room. He knew what awaited him behind that door. He could finally stop himself, but what now? His hand shook and trembled as he reached to knock on that door. That very door was the only thing stopping him from his future with the prince.
Indigo cleared his throat and spoke as normally as he could muster at that moment, “Prince Nico, it’s Indigo. May I speak to you?”
The door opened soon after he spoke, finally revealing the prince. His raven hair messily covered his ocean-colored eyes. Indigo was met by his usual fox-eyed glare. Once the other man got a better look at him, his eyes softened like a cat melting in its owner’s embrace. He tilted his head to the side, a quirk he only showed his beloved guard.
Before Indigo could fall into a deeper trance, he was pulled inside of the room. The door shut behind him and he heard the click of a lock. Indigo came back to his senses and recalled why he was there, to begin with.
Nico sat down on the elegantly patterned red and yellow sofa that resided against the easternmost wall of his room, “What did you want to ask me about, Indigo? You look unwell, so maybe you should take a seat while you’re at it.”
Indigo ran his hands up to his face to cover his embarrassment once again. Nico’s voice was like a finely made tea. The sweet, smoothness of honey, a hint of ginger to give it spice— A tea Indigo can never get enough of.
The guard broke free from his thoughts and sat next to Nico. “Just… give me a moment and hear me out on this. Rowan gave me this idea and I knew I had to tell you right away. We can be… together.”
Nico leaned back in his seat and sprawled his limbs across the couch. He maneuvered his arm around Indigo and let out a content sigh as he allowed his body to relax once more. “What’s your idea?”
Indigo explained his plan to Nico, who listened thoughtfully. The prince pat Indigo on the knee a couple of times and closed his eyes wistfully. “I’m sorry, Indigo.”
Oh no, Indigo thought, Nico sounds doubtful… and he apologized. Is he going to reject me? Am I… too late?
“I already talked to Princess Ai about an idea just a while ago. Rowan advocated for that idea very highly a week ago so I took the time to plan through it,” Nico chuckled and rubbed his face a couple of times, “It’s doable. Princess Ai is in a… similar situation.”
Indigo tilted his head as he leaned into Nico’s embrace, “She’s into…?”
Nico shook his head, “She will be going by Prince Ai sometime in the future.”
Prince Ai. Who would’ve thought? Nico observed the expression on Indigo’s face and burst out laughing. Indigo frowned and blushed, trying to get up from the sofa. He was met by arms wrapping around his waist and pulling him back down.
“Sorry, s-sorry! I didn’t expect you to look that surprised,” Nico calmed his laughs until they faded to giggles.
Their conversation was the start of a change in Aspolia. Months later, Princess Ai and Prince Nico were married to one another. Weeks later, Nico became the king and his dad finally got to retire. Indigo remained his guard and helped him through the process of settling into his new role, alongside Ai and Rowan. After more time passed and Nico and Indigo felt like they were ready. They got the kingdom together and finally announced their love for one another. Prince Ai shared his news as well, finally having gone through the transition he needed to undergo after ‘months of being sick’. Aspolia would finally undergo the change it needed, but…
… Where did I go wrong? What happened to our future?
Indigo, Rowan, and Ai stood in shock at the sight before them. Nico couldn’t register the situation until he felt a sharp pain in his heart, followed by another. From beside the king, Indigo could barely register the situation. The group was on the terrace of the castle, giving their announcement. They were interrupted by the sound of Nico coughing up blood and collapsing on the ground. Two arrows found their way through Nico’s chest following the conclusion of his speech. After minutes of panic, he had died.
Indigo checked the room, his adrenaline spiking and sending him into a frenzy. Only an assassin could hit marks like that… which seemed to be the case. It was uncovered by Indigo that Nico’s father caught wind of their plan and hired an assassin ahead of time. Instead of a funeral, Nico was honored by a festival. Indigo, the new king, made this decision.
It’s what he would’ve wanted. He always wished for his castle to be filled with good memories.
Indigo wanted to cherish the moments he spent with Nico just a bit longer. He felt sad for Nico. Even so, he felt a sense of pride in keeping the old king’s loyalists from causing an uproar. Aspolia liked the change, so Nico’s death wasn’t in vain.
But… can he see the change he sparked? Will he ever know what impact he had?
In the end, Rowan was promoted to Indigo’s bodyguard and the head of the Royal Guard. Ai went back to his kingdom and changed the laws there as well. He found himself a queen who accepted him for who he was and they overthrew their respective kingdoms. Indigo still pondered on how he managed to get his current position. As it turns out, Indigo was the closest to Nico. With no siblings, Indigo filled in the spot for him.
No one anticipated what transpired that day, not even Nico’s very own bodyguard. Indigo knew he wouldn’t get his ‘happy ever after’ until the day he’d take his final breath and meet his king in the realms above. Even so, the people of his kingdom, of their kingdom, would get to express themselves in a whole other way now. Now, Apolia truly was a lovely place.