Sister Princess Fan Fiction / Love Hina Fan Fiction ❯ Love Hina Sister Princess ❯ chp1: The Legacy ( Chapter 1 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Sister Princess
By Zenithos
A sudden and unexpected tragedy suddenly leaves Keitaro as the sole heir to the Urashima legacy. But along with it came a footnote that he must take care of his little sisters. Plural. Hinata-Sou will never be the same again…
Beyond the Bounds takes full credit for the story idea. He has kindly allowed me use it to start off my first ever fanfic. Thanks, BTB.
Also, since Beyond the Bounds will be particularly busy until the end of the year due to university applications, exams and such, I'll be taking over his stories for the time being, so Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu! I'm not as experienced as he is, so every bit of help, support, and advice is completely welcome. Thank you everyone!
This story is completely spoiler-free.
Disclaimer: I don't own Love Hina. The story idea comes from Sister Princess, which I off course do not own. This fan fiction was written completely for personal enjoyment, not for profit.
This is my first fanfic, so please review and tell me what you think! Thanks!
Proof-read by Beyond the Bounds
Chp1: The Legacy
It was another snowy December evening. The sky was overcast and dotted with flecks of white. A few crows, too lazy to fly south, had taken to warming themselves by a number of electrical transformers. They watched lazily as lone, young man trudged up through the snow laden street. A few street lamps sluggishly flickered on as the last rays of sunlight slid under the horizon.
The young man was definitely ill-dressed for the weather. A single sweater, a shirt, and a pair of jeans were his only defenses against the biting cold. An inconsiderate driver sloshed up mud and dirt onto the young man as he made a quick turn around a bend, leaving the young man more depressed than ever.
The young man picked up his pace, suddenly remembering that he had chores to do back home. Then he slowed down again, remembering why he wasn't at home doing those said chores in the first place. He glanced back at his landing site not too far up the street. It was smoking human-shaped crater. He sighed and continued on walking, without any exact destination in mind.
Why was he walking so disconsolately down a frost covered street? Why was there a human-shaped crater further up the street? Why was he so gloomy in the first place?
Urashima Keitaro was again a victim of yet another misunderstanding involving the laundry, a pair of panties, one of his tenants; Shinobu-chan, a turtle, another of his tenants; Mitsune, booze, and just another case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yes, he was found lying on top of Shinobu-chan with his face stuck to a pair of panties. But before he could even explain that he was carrying the laundry down before bumping into Shinobu, he was already sent flying by a combo of kicks and katana slashes from two of his other tenants, namely Aoyama Motoko and Narusegawa Naru.
Unfortunately, he proceeded to land on Mitsune's bosom, who, being drunk, started to do extremely lewd things to Keitaro against his will. This earned him another Naru punch and a Shinmei-ryu rock splitter which sent him flying into the stratosphere. The missiles that incinerated him up by the stratosphere, merely as an addition, were sent by another tenant, Kaolla Suu, mostly for fun.
He was contemplating giving up on being the manager of Hinata-Sou along with his inheritance rights, seeing as he just couldn't live with this sort of thing any longer. It wasn't the pain of being clobbered and sent flying into the stratosphere that bothered him. It was just the lack of respect and appreciation. He tried his best. God knows he tried his best. But his best is just never enough for those girls. Not to mention how quick they are at jumping to conclusions, most of which are normally wrong.
Just as he took out his handkerchief to wipe off the mud from the car, another car swept by and splashed more mud onto him. The draft from the car whipped the handkerchief out of his hand and carried up before another gust of wind picked it up and blew it down the street. He sighed and followed it down the street until it finally landed in a particularly muddy patch in a deserted field.
As he stooped to pick it up, he noticed a lone figure sitting hunched, shivering by a pile of disused concrete pipes. A certain curiosity and urge to help welled up within him. He decided to watch the figure for a bit before making any moves.
He noticed that the figure was wearing a cute white kitty hat, though it was rather grimy with mud and dirt. He also realized that the figure had long flowing pale blonde hair.
Something clicked in his mind. Though he thought it was almost impossible, he felt he had to make sure. He strode up to the figure quietly.
Sensing his approach, the small figure quickly looked up at him. It was a small girl, with a visage that could only be described as being childishly cute, with two, large, bright russet eyes, a small round nose, and a round chin. She was rather pale and Keitaro could see that she had been crying.
“…Nii…Nii-sama?” she murmured quietly. “Nii-sama?” she asked again.
“S…Shirayuki?” Keitaro asked in disbelief, reaching out to her.
“NII-SAMA!” She cried, leaping into his arms, sobbing and hiccupping.
Keitaro was dumbfounded. This was probably the last place he had expected to meet her. Nevertheless, his brotherly instincts kicked in and he tightened his hold around her. “It's all right…it's all right…I'm here now….” He tried to reassure her in the only way he knew how to. Though he had used it mostly back when she was still an infant and he doubted whether or not it would be effective now. `…she's grown…' he thought. The last time he had seen her was when she was 4, and that was already 5 years ago.
He realized that she had suddenly gone quiet. Quite gentle breathing had replaced the sobs and hiccups. He looked down and realized she had fallen asleep in his arms. Now what to do?
He realized she was dressed in a white dress and a small, light blue coat, which were hardly any good against the cold. He took off his only sweater and wrapped it around her before scooping her up in his arms.
There was nothing to do other than to bring her back to Hinata Sou. He just hopped that he could explain everything before they start hammering him for pedophilia, which he knew would almost certainly happen.
The long journey back to the Hinata Sou, the arduous climb up the long flight of stairs, coupled with the weight of the little girl in his arms, had proved taxing in terms of stamina. But Keitaro had made a point of reserving just a bit of it to endure what lie on the other side of the door he was now standing before. Not to mention he was also extremely worried about Shirayuki-chan. Why was she out in the cold like that? And why was she mumbling `oka-san' and `oto-san' repeatedly in her sleep on the way here? He couldn't help but feel a deep sense of foreboding.
He would've stopped by Haruka's place, if only she was around. It would've been far more convenient than having to explain the situation to everyone else. A dark, evil aura seemed to emanate from within the doors, prophesizing doom and destruction upon the returning manager. He looked down at Shirayuki's peaceful sleeping face and a new sense of determination welled up inside him. He took a deep breath, ran his entire explanation through his mind again, before exhaling slowly and sliding open the front doors to Hinata Sou.
“ABOUT TIME YOU GOT BACK!” A voice screamed from inside. “PREPARE TO…huh?” Narusegawa Naru's tirade stopped short as she noticed the little figure curled up in Keitaro's arms. She gasped, “K…Keitaro…you…you didn't just kidnap this little girl, did you?”
“WHAT WAS THAT, URASHIMA?!” Another voice thundered through the house, shaking everything from the foundation up. The proud figure of a female samurai skid into view, katana brandished and shining. She too noticed the small girl Keitaro was holding, and coupled with what Naru had just said, her mind made a few logical leaps that would even make Sherlock Holmes gape in awe. She immediately voiced her opinion on the matter. “DIE URASHIMA!”
“Please…please…just give me a moment to…” Keitaro started, turning away slightly to shield Shirayuki from the oncoming onslaught.
“Explain, Keitaro?” Another voice asked from behind him. Both Motoko and Naru froze in their tracks upon noticing the two figures at the door.
One was Urashima Haruka, who's words had just saved Keitaro a second launching into the stratosphere. The other was a young, bespectacled, long haired man dressed in black.
“You need not explain anything, Keitaro, for now that is.” Haruka said, taking a drag out of her ever-present cigarette. But there was something about his aunt, Keitaro noticed, that seemed awfully off. Was it the way her head was slightly bowed? Or was it the way her shoulders were very slightly hunched? “Naru, Motoko, can you please leave us alone for a moment? Keitaro will explain the situation later. As for this girl,” Haruka motioned at Shirayuki. “Naru, could you please take care of her for a moment. Please change her clothes for her.”
Naru, at a sudden loss for words, merely nodded and offered out her hands to take Shirayuki. But just as Keitaro was about to hand her over, Shirayuki woke up. As her eyes blinked gently open, she regarded Keitaro and softly murmured, “Nii-sama….” before cuddling into him further.
“N…nii-sama?” Naru gasped quietly in surprise. Motoko's eyes widened for a brief moment before returning to her state of vigilance. She still maintained her suspicions over Keitaro and the child.
“Err…Shirayuki-chan…can you be a good little girl and go with Naru-neechan here? She'll get you a change of clothes and a warm futon to sleep on. What do you say?” Keitaro asked, gently shaking the sleepy child awake again.
“NO!” Shirayuki cried, waking up completely and glomping onto Keitaro. “Hime-chan doesn't want to leave nii-sama!” She shouted, holding tightly onto Keitaro. “Please…don't leave Hime-chan…”
“All right, fine…” Haruka sighed, gesturing at the living room sofas. “You'd better sit down for this one, Keitaro. It might come as a bit of a shock.” She said. “And yes, Shirayuki can stay with her nii-sama.” She added, having been subjected to a watery eyed stare by Shirayuki. “Naru, Motoko, if you please?” Naru quickly made her exit, pausing briefly to take hold of Motoko's hand and leading her away.
“Good evening, Keitaro. I can see you've had a rather eventful evening…” The man in black said, smiling, sitting opposite Keitaro. He placed his black leather briefcase on the table and proceeded to open the locks. Keitaro was subconsciously gently rocking back and forth with Shirayuki on his lap, who was slowly falling into fitful sleep.
“Good evening, Matsura-san.” Keitaro replied, having dug up the man's name from some old forgotten memory left in the inner recesses of his mind. He had met him on a few occasions back home. Apparently he was an old friend of his father's.
“You still remember me, Keitaro. That's an honour.” He paused for a moment, trying to search for words. He took a deep breath and continued, “Well, I really don't like being the bearer of ill news, but, unfortunately, Keitaro…” He paused again. He coughed dryly as he tried to idly shuffle some papers in his briefcase. He finally sighed and looked up at Keitaro. “your parents….this morning…they….”
A heavy silence filled the room. Haruka was sitting motionless with her face away from Keitaro. Matsura-san had continued on saying a few words of consolation, all of which seemed muted to Keitaro. All his senses seemed to dim. The world spun on around him, leaving him behind in a small cocoon of time stasis.
Memories of his parents floated through his mind. They were all replayed vividly before his eyes. His childhood, his birthdays, the day his father taught him how to hold a boken, the day his mother attended his primary Mother's day. He found himself screaming for the memories to stop through choked tears.
“I…I'm sorry…” Keitaro said, his voice sounding extremely strained. “I….I…it's just that…” he looked down at his feet. “It came…It came as such a sur…surprise…”
“I understand, Keitaro….they were my best friends…and they've entrusted it to me to inform you about your inheritance…I know it seems so soon, but your parents had asked me to make all due haste with this issue should anything ever happen to them.” Matsura said, sighing. He took out a thick wad of paper from his briefcase and handed it to Keitaro. “That is the legacy your parents have left you with.”
“L…legacy?” Keitaro asked, shaking away the tears. He subconsciously held out his hand and took the pile of paperwork. “…all this for a sweetshop?”
“No…” Matsura said with a slow voice. “The sweetshop was only a small part of it. As you can see, most of the issues listed there are marked as confidential. Your parents had made it clear to me that this matter was far more urgent than their deaths. And should anything ever happen to them, you were to be informed of the legacy and everything it entails.”
“But…what are these confidential things then?” Keitaro asked.
“For now, your parents only asked that the ownership of the legacy be transferred to you, along with all legal responsibilities. As for what exactly these confidential matters are, all will be made clear in time. Your parents also asked me to personally hand over this letter.” Matsura said, handing Keitaro a white envelope. Keitaro quickly tore it open and read through the contents.
Dear Keitaro,
We prayed that there would never be any need for this letter, but as you are reading it now, then we, your parents, have passed away. We understand how difficult it may be for you, but we must ask you not to grief over this matter. You, as the eldest son of the Urashima clan, will have to take up the responsibilities of being the family head forthwith. It is with such a burden that we've left you, and for that we apologize dearly. The Urashima Legacy is now in your hands. Take good care of it.
Another issue that we feel we must address, though we're sure you already know about, is the issue of your sisters. We must ask that you take good care of them in our stead and we are sure that you'd be willing to accept full responsibility for them. Please, you are all they have left in the world, so give them our love in our stead.
The rest of the letter contained further minute details, such as the family residence, and other matters. But at that moment, Keitaro felt particularly worried about the subject of his sisters.
“Matsura-san…my sisters?” He asked, a tone of urgency inherent in his voice.
“Decisive and responsive as always, Keitaro.” Matsura commented. “I can see your parent's trust was not misplaced. Yes, we've already notified your sisters. Shirayuki-chan here was one of the first to receive the news.” He gestured at Shirayuki, before continuing. “They've…” Matsura was saying, just when the front door slid open roughly.
“Excuse me!” a pompous voice said from the other side. A tall, broad shouldered, dark haired man said as he stepped into the living room. “I have reason to believe…” he started, then stopped abruptly as he saw Shirayuki. “SHIRAYUKI-SAMA!” he cried out, striding over to where she was on Keitaro's lap.
Shirayuki suddenly woke up and cried out as she saw the man coming towards her. She quickly leapt of Keitaro's lap took cover behind Keitaro's shoulder.
“Shirayuki-sama. We've come to take you back.” The man said. “We're sorry for the interruption.” He gave a quick nod at everyone else in the room before turning back to Shirayuki.
“NO! Hime-chan wants to stay here with nii-sama!” Shirayuki cried out, holding onto Keitaro as if for dear life. “Hime-chan doesn't want to go back! NO!”
“So, Keitaro, are you willing to take the responsibility of being your sisters' guardian?” Matsura asked.
Shirayuki looked at her brother.
“Yes, definitely.” Keitaro said, without hesitation. He could feel Shirayuki squeeze him tightly upon hearing this.
“It's all right, Higuchi.” Matsura said, standing up. “Shirayuki-chan can remain here with her brother. Their parents have entrusted them to him. We should make haste to bring the other twelve here as well.”
“Ah…but…Oh…very well then. I was just worried when Shirayuki-sama ran away from the boarding school after hearing the news…” Higuchi said. “All right, I'll leave Shirayuki-sama in your care then, Urashima-sama.” Higuchi said, bowing slightly to Keitaro and Shirayuki. Shirayuki quietly peeked out from behind Keitaro's shoulder.
“Higuchi, please make arrangements for Shirayuki-chan's school transfer as well as sending over her personal belongings.” Matsura said, placing everything back into his briefcase. “Rest assured, Keitaro. We'll take care of all the legal procedures. Now rest. We'll contact you again soon.”
“But…what about my other sisters?” Keitaro asked.
“Rest assured we will notify their current caretakers as soon as possible. Four of them still remain at the Urashima residence. You could fetch them when you visit, which I'm sure you will very soon. They're really looking forwards to seeing you, Keitaro.” Matsura said, smiling a small smile. He cordially shook Keitaro, Haruka, and Shirayuki's hands and offered them further condolensces, before leaving. Higuchi did the same and followed suit.
“Oba-san….” Keitaro said, after what seemed like a long moment of silence. Shirayuki was standing beside him, sniffling quietly, holding onto one of his hands for comfort.
“I don't even have the energy to take out my paper fan….” Haruka sighed. “What?”
“A lot of things are going to change around here…are you all right with that?” Keitaro asked.
“You're the owner and manager of this place…whatever you do with this place…it's up to you. And these girls are your family after all…” Haruka said. Suddenly she started shuddering. A few tears fell to the floor.
“H…Haruka-san.” Keitaro was shocked by his aunt's sudden show of emotions.
“Th…they're dead…Keitaro…they're dead…” She sobbed, trying her best to hold back her tears. “They're dead…” She fell to her knees. “…it's…it's just not possible…” She sobbed. “PLEASE! Tell me it's not true…”
Keitaro too got to his knees and held his shuddering aunt and Shirayuki close. He too broke into silent tears. Shirayuki, not being able to hold it in anymore, burst out crying as well. They remained like that for a while. They made no attempt to console one another. They knew each other's pain was one beyond consolation.
“Did you hear that?” Suu asked, looking around at the shocked faces of the other tenants who were gathered around what looked like a television screen which was now showing the scene in the living room.
“My goodness…his parents….passed away…?” Naru gasped. “And to think…we were beating him up just a moment ago…”
“…sempai…” Shinobu mumbled, tears streaming down her face.
“…” Motoko remained silent.
“So…Keitaro has a little sister?” Mitsune asked.
“From the sound of the conversation, it seems he has more than just one…at least 13.” Naru murmured. “And it seems he'll have to take care of all of them…” Tears were welling up in her eyes too. “…the poor girls…losing their parents all of a sudden like that…”
“It's probably best to stay quiet about it until they tell us about it…I'm not sure exactly how much we're supposed to know, especially about this whole mysterious legacy business…” Mitsune reasoned. “12 sisters, huh? Cool parents…”
“But…but…” Shinobu mumbled.
“Guuu…do you think it's safe to go downstairs yet? I'm hungry…” Suu moaned.
“Don't worry, Shirayuki-chan…we'll go home tomorrow and see the others. For now, you must rest.” Keitaro told his little sister as he carried her upstairs. “And you've got to promise me never to run away like that again.”
“demou….Hime-chan wanted to see nii-sama desu no. H…Hime-chan was afraid…when they told Hime-chan…oka-sama and oto-sama had…” She buried her face in Keitaro's shoulder. “You're never going to leave Hime-chan, are you?” She looked up at her brother's face for reassurance.
“I promise you I'll never leave you, Shirayuki-chan.” Keitaro smiled gently. “But just promise you'll never run away again. If anything were to happen to you, I don't know what I'd do…”
“Hime-chan promises…as long as Hime-chan is with nii-sama, Hime-chan'll never run away.” Shirayuki said.
“That's a good girl…” Keitaro patted her lovingly on the head. After having her change her clothes into one of Keitaro's old pyjamas, he tucked her into one of his futons.
“I'll have your clothes washed and ready for tomorrow.” Keitaro said, standing up to leave.
“Nii-sama…” Shirayuki held onto Keitaro's trouser leg. “Please don't go…” tears were welling up in her eyes again.
Keitaro sighed and sat down again by her futon. He knew that at this moment little Shirayuki was probably very scared of being left again, having just lost her parents. He thought at length for something comforting to say before he finally said, “…say, Shirayuki-chan…do you remember that old lullaby mom used to sing us? I only remember a bit of it…”
He sang the first stanza of the song, the only part he knew by heart. It was a slow, sorrowful tune, with a gentleness that reminded them very much of their mother.
As he stopped, Shirayuki started off the second stanza. Keitaro sat listening to it for a moment until she stopped. “Sorry…I only remember the second stanza desu-no…”
“Haha…don't worry about it. Let's sing the whole thing together…” Keitaro smiled down at her.
“How was it, Keitaro?” Haruka asked as Keitaro slid his door shut behind him.
“She's asleep. But I'm worried about the others. I really want to go check up on the girls at home…but Shirayuki seemed so exhausted. I guess it would have to wait until tomorrow.” Keitaro sighed. Haruka merely nodded quietly. They both knew that life was never going to be the same again.
Morning brought forth sunshine and clear skies. The world seemed to shine a bright white as the snow glimmered under the early sunshine.
Meanwhile, in the Hinata household, things were far from being bright.
“…That's how it is…I would have to ask for your cooperation for some time until I can move out somewhere with my sisters...” Keitaro said. A Hinata Sou group meeting was called in the living room early that morning. Keitaro had spent the best part of 30 minutes explaining what had happened the day before. It was followed by a deep silence, before Mitsune finally spoke up.
“Our deepest condolensces, Keitaro…but life's just like that. We need to move on.” Mitsune said, before adding, “Why move out? There's no need. You guys can stay here.”
“S…sem…sempai…” Shinobu mumbled as tears flowed down her cheeks in buckets.
“My condolences, Keitaro.” Naru said, “We all feel for you. We really do. As Mitsune said, it's our duty to keep on going in their stead.” Her eyes seemed to brim with tears as well. “As for your sisters, they're welcome here. We see no reason for you to move out.”
“But they'll be quite a nuisance to you all…most of them are younger than 12.” Keitaro said.
“And that is why you should let them stay here. How exactly are you planning on managing alone? These girls are at the stage where they require lots of love and care.” Naru said, her voice full of passion.
“A…anou…Naru-sempai is right…we'll help all we can…” Shinobu said, sniffling slightly, but with a voice full of determination.
“That is true. It is the way of the samurai to help those in need.” Motoko said. “And we still need to keep an eye on you and the way you bring up your sisters….”
“You can count on my newest invention! The nanny-bot!” Suu shouted, gesturing grandly at a weirdly shaped humanoid contraption that was painfully regurgitating phrases from Mary Poppins. Each of its 20 arms held what seemed to be surreal versions of ordinary nursery items such as baby bottles (torpedoes), rattles (spiky clubs), pacifiers (grenades), etc.
“Err…I think we could do without that infernal claptrap…” Mitsune said, sweat-dropping big time. It didn't occur to Keitaro at the time to ask why Suu had such an invention conveniently ready for such an occasion.
“Th…thank you…everyone…” Tears started to form at the corners of Keitaro's eyes. “I…I don't know what to say…” He sniffed, wiping his tears on the sleeve of his sweater.
“And also…we can charge you for the baby-sitting fees, can't we?” Mitsune added playfully.
“BAKA!” Naru slapped her on the head with a gigantic paper fan.
“Minna-san! Breakfast is ready desu-no!” A bright voice rang from the kitchen.
“FOOOOOOOD!” Suu leaped over her nanny-bot and bounced into the kitchen, splashing saliva all over the place.
“Breakfast? Shirayuki-chan?” Keitaro looked around, realizing his little sister wasn't in the living room.
“Your sister cooks?” Naru asked, walking towards the kitchen.
“Hmmm…it does seem that she has some knowledge of cooking…” Motoko nodded, regarding the feast splayed out across the dining table.
“I was actually going to save her introduction for after the meeting…but now will do.” Keitaro said, striding over to where Shirayuki stood behind the dining table. “Everyone, this is my sister, Urashima Shirayuki-chan.”
“Dozo Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu…” Shirayuki said, bowing deeply. Her pale blonde hair shone under her newly washed kitty cap. Keitaro had done his best to mend her clothes from the day before and now everything about her could only suggest adorable cuteness.
“So kawai…!” Naru, Mitsune, and Shinobu cried out.
After quick introductions along with a few cuddles and snuggles from Naru, Mitsune, Shinobu, and Suu, they all sat down to breakfast.
Shirayuki had remained quiet throughout the train trip home. She continuously glanced between her brother and the scenery outside. Keitaro could sense that she was both eager and reluctant to go home. Eager to see her sisters, reluctant to see the coffins.
When they finally reached the front door to the large traditional Japanese style estate, they felt somewhat overwhelmed as more memories flooded through their minds. The Urashima family's head maid, the old and respectable Sasaki-san, opened the door for them.
“Haruka-chan and young master Keitaro-kun…ah…Hime-chan too…it's good that you've arrived safe and sound…” She said kindly, ushering them inside. Shirayuki immediately ran up to the old woman and gave her a tight hug around the waist.
“Hime-chan…it's so good to see you again…after such a long time…” Sasaki-san smiled warmly as she got down returned Shirayuki-chan's hug.
“Hime-chan missed Sasaki-san!” Shirayuki said, rubbing her face into Sasaki-san's apron.
“Sasaki-san…” Haruka started.
“Haruka-chan…Haruka-chan…” Sasaki-san laughed a quiet little laugh as she gave Haruka a tight hug. “It's so good to see you again…how many times do I have to tell you to stop smoking that infernal thing?” She flicked Haruka's cigarette out with a motherly smile.
“I'm…I'm sorry…Sasaki-san…” Haruka blushed slightly out of shame. Keitaro was always amazed at how Sasaki-san could treat everyone like a child, moreover, her own children.
“Well…we've got a lot to do. But first of all, Keitaro-kun…God bless these old eyes that I could see you again…you must come and see your parents.” Sasaki-san gave Keitaro a motherly hug and led him by the arm. “Come, you too Haruka-chan. And Hime-chan, come, take my hand. Yes, that's a good girl.”
There were many people standing around the great snow covered courtyard, all dressed in black. All were either chatting in low, hushed tones, or looking thoughtful.
They were led to the main pavilion. Inside were two identical coffins, with altars bearing the photographs of the deceased at their feet.
“Young master and mistress, your sister, son, and daughter have come to pay their respects.” Sasaki-san called out.
Keitaro was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions. Shirayuki-chan held onto Keitaro and burst into tears. Haruka stood silent for some moments before paying her respects.
Keitaro squared his shoulders and blinked away his tears as he walked up to the altars. “Oka-sama, Oto-sama, I, Urashima Keitaro…your son, promise that I shall carry on the responsibilities of being the head of the Urashima family. And I promise you that I will do my very best to care for my sisters, even at the cost of my life. Please, grant me the strength to do so. Watch over them and protect them, always.” He bowed deeply. “Thank you…Oka-sama…Oto-sama…thank you…” his tears fell heavily on the wooden floor. They sealed his promise, as blood on paper.
“Hinako-chan, Hinata-chan, Kaho-chan, and Karen-chan have been waiting for your arrival.” Sasaki-san said, leading them down one of the side pavilions. “Aria-chan will be arriving later this afternoon. Chiikage-chan had promised she will arrive today, but has yet to contact us on the details. Kanako-chan arrived a few hours ago along with Hina-sama. Matsura-sama has notified me that she's the only one that won't be moving in with you as Hina-sama insisted that she stay with her for a while longer. As for the other six, they have yet to notify us of their arrival.”
“How are Hinako-chan, Hinata-chan, Kaho-chan, and Karen-chan?” Keitaro asked, feeling deeply concerned about his youngest sisters.
“…about Hinako-chan and Hinata-chan…I'm sad to say that they're not dealing with it very well….they've refused to eat since yesterday…that's why I was hoping your arrival would somehow help…” Sasaki-san said. “As for Kaho-chan and Karen-chan, they're doing their best to cope with the situation…but there is a limit to how much a little girl could take…”
“Grandma! The twins have gone missing!” A young, pink-haired, twin-ponytailed girl in a maid outfit shouted as she raced up towards them from behind.
“What?” Sasaki-san turned around in alarm. “Hinako-chan and Hinata-chan?! Gone missing?! Makie, weren't you supposed to watch them?!”
“I'm so sorry, Grandma. They had locked themselves in their room, and when we finally got it open, they were gone.” Makie explained in a panic.
“Notify all the maids as well as security. Look everywhere, inside and outside the house. My…these poor kids…” Sasaki-san shook her head. “They're only 4 years old…and yet…”
“Sasaki-san, please allow me to join the search.” Keitaro said. “Shirayuki-chan, stay with Sasaki-san and Haruka-san.”
“But…but Hime-chan…” Shirayuki started.
“Please, Shirayuki-chan. Stay with the others. Don't worry, I'll get Hinako-chan and Hinata-chan back.” Keitaro smiled, before dashing away. “Sasaki-san! Haruka-san! Please take care of Shirayuki-chan for me!”
“Well, well…he has grown up, hasn't he?” Sasaki-san chuckled. “It felt as if it was just yesterday we scolded him for wetting his futon.”
“Nii-sama wet his futon?” Shirayuki asked in amazement. “That doesn't sound like Nii-sama…”
“The only one who knows Keitaro better than his parents would be me, Hime-chan.” Sasaki-san laughed her motherly laugh. “Now, let's go and see if we can beat your brother to finding Hinata-chan and Hinako-chan.”
“Hinata-tan…Hina-tan doesn't think Hina-tan can go on any longer…” A small, light-brown haired girl moaned. She was hugging a small bright orange barrette close to her chest. Her matching bright orange dress and white vest were slightly soiled by use.
“Ssshh…Hinako-chan. We've got to get oka-chama and oto-chama back.” The girl beside her whispered back. She was identical to the girl beside her in every way, except for the colour of her clothing which was light pink. They were both kneeling in a small, dark, wooden crawl space.
“But…but…Hinata-tan, Sasaki-tan said they're already gone…” Hinako whispered back worriedly.
“That's a lie, Hinako-chan. Oka-chama and Oto-chama promised us they'll never leave us. And Oka-chama and Oto-chama never breaks promises.” Hinata whispered urgently. “Now we have to go find Oka-chama and Oto-chama.”
“What are you children doing?” a voice asked from the other side of the crawl space's wall. The twins jumped out of fright. “It's not nice to worry everyone else.”
“Hinata-tan…that's Onii-tama!” Hinako whispered excitedly.
“Onii-chama? Is that you?” Hinata whispered.
“Yes, it's Onii-sama.” Keitaro said from the other side of the wall. He sighed and shook his head. The Urashimas always had a penchant for secret passages and hidden rooms. But they always made them so easy to find, as if they were nothing but a joke. He and his sisters used to roam each and every passageway looking for hidden treasure. “So, do you feel like coming out yet?”
“Onii-chama! You have to help us find Oka-chama and Oto-chama!” Hinata whispered urgently. “Everyone said they're gone, but Hinata-chan and Hinako-chan knows they promised never to leave us!”
Keitaro sighed again and sat down with his back to the wall. He thought over what he would say. He knew it was something extremely difficult to explain as he himself was still partly in denial. “Well…listen, Hinata-chan, Hinako-chan…Oka-sama and Oto-sama have gone. You remember the time they left to see Grandma Hina in that far away place?”
“Y…yes…” two scared voices said from across the wooden wall.
“Well, this time, it's just like that. But do you remember when Oka-sama and Oto-sama appeared on the TV? And how we could talk to them just like they were in front of us?” Keitaro asked, referring to the tele-conference his parents set up just to talk to their children.
“Yes…” the two voices answered again, this time with more hope.
“Well…this time, it's kind of like that. Oka-sama and Oto-sama are gone, but they can still see you through their TV.” Keitaro sighed, and placed his head in his hands.
“…R…really?” Hinako asked.
“B…but…can Hinata-chan and Hinako-chan talk to them through the TV again? Just like that time?” Hinata asked.
“No…not this time. They can see you, but you can't see them.” Keitaro folded up his legs to his chest and started to thump his head on his knees. “But they'll always be watching you too…so if you do things that make them sad, like not eating, they would cry.”
“…” there was a heavy silence from the other side of the wall. It was finally broken by Hinako-chan's sobs. “Oka-tama…Oto-tama…” she wailed.
“Ssshh, Hinako-tan, you can't cry…cause…cause…if you c…cry…sob…oka-chama…and…sob…oto-chama&# 8230;would get…sob…sad too…” Hinata managed, before she too started to cry.
After a few moments Keitaro slowly got up and opened up a nearby trapdoor and peeked in. He was immediately pounced on by the twins.
“Onii-chama…you're never going to leave Hinata-chan and Hinako-chan…are you?” Hinata cried, glomping onto him.
“Yes. You have to promise us!” Hinako wailed, holding onto him as tightly as possible, as if he might evaporate if she didn't.
“Yes, yes, I promise. I'll never leave you, either of you.” Keitaro said, hugging them both, trying to comfort them as much as possible. “I promise.”
“There he is…and he's found them!” Sasaki-san cried out with joy when Keitaro came into the kitchen carrying the twins, one on either side. “Where have you two girls been?”
“It's a long story…but I think they've decided that they're really hungry.” Keitaro smiled down at the two. As if on cue, their stomachs rumbled in unison at that very moment. “See?”
“Serves you right for starving yourselves. Makie-chan, as much food as you can fit onto two plates! Now!” Sasaki-san half laughed as she ordered her granddaughter around.
“Hai! Wakarimashita!” Makie-chan smiled and saluted, before getting busy with the food.
“Shirayuki-neetan/neechan!” Hinata and Hinako cried upon seeing Shirayuki. They both leapt down from Keitaro and ran over to their older sister to exchange hugs.
“Well then…so you are big brother material.” Sasaki-san chuckled, slapping Keitaro on the back.
“I'm still trying, Sasaki-san…I'm still trying…” Keitaro sighed. “Can you keep an eye on those two? I still have to go and meet Kanako-chan, Kaho-chan and Karen-chan.”
“Yes, you go do that. I'll hold the fort here.” Sasaki smiled. “Get going, you've got a lot of big-brothering to do!” She pushed him out of the kitchen and winked at him.
“Thanks, Sasaki-san.” Keitaro said, thankful for the encouragement. He started off towards the courtyard, trying to think of places where Kanako and Karen might be. As for Kaho, he knew she'd be somewhere around the great oak in the backyard.
And sure enough, when he got there, he found her, sitting up on one of the boughs, with her pet birds and hamster on her shoulders and arms, a perfect picture of some nature Goddess.
A gentle wind blew by, picking up her short, bandanna-bound light-brown hair. She looked around as if realizing something and saw him. He smiled up at her. She smiled back and waved, her bright brown dress rustling in the air.
Keitaro wasn't expecting her to say anything. He knew she won't. Not because she doesn't want to, but because she can't.
To be continued…
More of the 12 sisters to come in the next chapter of `Sister Princess'
All right, since there might be some confusion over who is who as well as mannerisms, I'll go over them here.
Urashima Shirayuki: Refers to herself as `Hime-chan', which means `little princess'. Why? That will be explained later, though you could probably guess from her name. She calls her brother `Nii-sama' which is a polite shorter version of `onii-sama'.
Urashima Hinako: Second youngest of the sisters as well as Hinata's twin. Refers to herself as `Hina-chan' which she childishly pronounces as `Hina-tan'. She calls her brother `onii-tama', a childish variant of `Onii-sama'.
Urashima Hinata: Youngest of the sisters as well as Hinako's twin. Refers to herself as `Hinata-chan' which she childishly pronounces `Hinata-tan'. She calls her brother `Onii-chama', a childish variant of `Onii-sama'.
Urashima Kaho: Third youngest of the sisters. Doesn't talk at all.