In Dreams

Chapter 10


“Oh come now Zoro. You’ve made yourself fair sport by even agreeing to do this, so do not give me that look.” The fiery red head before him dusted imaginary dust off the formal wear she had stuffed him into. He hadn’t expected her and her wretched cohort to round him up like a lost sheep as he hurried off to his room to prepare for dinner. He’d had this fluttering feeling in his stomach he thought would have disappeared after training. But it was stubbornly refusing to do so. Not even the acquisition of his final masterpiece could quell the turbulent feeling he knew had nothing to do the scenery he would find himself in, or the meal he would soon be eating.

Robin stepped back and admired him. “Monsieur, black is certainly your color. It slims your form very well.” Nami smiled back at her, agreeing, and tenderly held the swordsman’s arm as they bickered congenially about whether or not he should wear his sword.

Robin’s heart gave a small tug. They looked very picturesque together. She sighed.

“Don’t wear that ridiculous thing, Zoro. It will only get in your way-“

“I always wear my sword. It’s as if you were asking me to unscrew my hands and put them away for the evening.”

Nami frowned but relented. “Very well. You’ll just end up having to take it off to sit down anyway.”

Zoro felt stiff and uncomfortable. He was sure he looked ridiculous but was shocked to find how much of a striking image his figure pulled in all the finery. He didn’t want to flatter himself, but he did look noble. Not that he walked around in peasant’s clothes anymore, but he never took much care in his person other than what was absolutely necessary to keep up appearances. And all the black made his skin appear fairer.

He frowned into the mirror.

He didn’t want his skin to appear fairer.

He was proud of who he was.

He just wanted this evening to be over with.

Sanji had the luxury of not needing women to dress him to look striking, but he certainly could have done with the company. There was absolutely no need to be nervous aside from the gossip related consequences he was sure would follow this evening. But even then, it was nothing he couldn’t stamp out with a well placed flirt. Everyone knew where his preferences lay…

Where did they lay anyway? He’d thought his interest in Mademoiselle Nami would return to him, but he had yet to feel a renewed passion about the issue. Most of his time was now consumed by Zoro, or Zoro related subjects. Not that this was particularly odd, he told himself, but perhaps he should start looking at other women as prospects. Mademoiselle Camille was very lovely… though it seemed she had her sights set on Zoro. And where did that woman come off, anyway? He’d never seen Zoro so much as speak to her, yet she clung to him that evening like… something clingy that clings to things you don’t want it to cling to!

And why the hell wouldn’t his stomach stop doing flip flops!? He’d eaten with Zoro plenty of times, though usually at the tavern or in the dining hall with several other people present. It must’ve been that he was excited about seeing the Queen’s private gardens. It was said to be the most beautiful little piece of earth in all of France…

But a small little tingling in his chest told him that it probably wasn’t the shrubbery he was interested in at all.

As Zoro walked down the long corridor to the grand entrance, he thought about what he should say. He knew Sanji wanted answers for his regrettable behavior at dinner and afterwards.

What would he say in his dreams…

/Kuso cook! I’ll kick your ass!/

/Shitty marimo-/

“Wait.” He stopped dead in his tracks. “Marimo?”

“Are you still thinking about that?” Unbeknownst to the swordsman Sanji had been coming from the opposite direction, meeting him directly at the grand entrance. He was wearing blue. Blue like ocean water, blue that forced you to look at the brilliant color of his eyes and the creamy contrast of his skin. Blue ocean fabric that paled in comparison to the endless depths of gorgeous aqua reflected in Sanji’s piercing eyes and the golden sweeps of hair surrounding them.

Zoro couldn’t form thought, let alone speech. There was absolutely nothing to say that wouldn’t dwarf the moment and bring him crashing back down to earth. He swallowed but he knew couldn’t stand there forever.

“Are you alright? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Sanji bit his lip. “I told you that if you did not wish to go through with this-“

“Just be quiet for a moment.” He finally forced himself to croak out. He did not sound good. Sanji just stood there looking confused and completely worthy of being ravished. The green haired man took a deep breath, completely forgetting what it was he was previously thinking about, and straightened his shoulders.

“Well, can’t stand here all day. Let’s find out if royal chef can out do you today.” He managed to say with some semblance of a normal voice. Zoro turned to head out the door when a servant standing nearby cleared his throat. Zoro raised his eyebrow at him.

“Ah, well, that is, Monsieur Zoro, I am under strict orders from Her Majesty…” The simpering man looked pointedly back and forth between the two men.

“What is it?” Zoro said, sighing.

“Well, Monsieur…” The man seemed almost ready to bolt should Zoro draw his sword, “I am to ensure that Monsieur Sanji is treated with the utmost of gentile manners. I would, that is, ahem…”

“Get on with it man-“ Zoro was losing his patience.

“Of course monsieur. But it is proper for a gentleman to take his companion’s arm in his.” The servant took a few steps back, fear plastered on his face.

Sanji was silent, hoping not to draw Zoro’s attention away from the poor unfortunate servant to himself. He was embarrassed enough. What exactly was the Queen thinking? Probably that this was hilarious. For some reason he didn’t want the swordsman to see the blush he was sure had crept to his cheeks. He felt much like the servant; ready to flee.

That friendly little vein Zoro was so fond of returned to his forehead and he pinched the bridge his nose, trying to breath. He didn’t look at Sanji, he was sure this was worse for his friend than it was for himself. Sanji had the single luxury of not feeling a damn thing for Zoro, whereas Zoro had to fight with himself for constant control over his feelings and expressions. He took one last deep breath and simply reached his arm behind him. He felt Sanji take his arm – was it he or Sanji who was trembling? – and led him through the doors.

To his horror it only got worse from there. Two lines of footmen dressed to the till awaited them, creating a path to a very fancy carriage.

The King was a sick, sick man.

The footmen bowed low, some with very suspicious smiles on their faces.

Sanji followed numbly. Zoro was obviously very displeased with the entire ordeal. He hadn’t thought the other man would be so upset with the arrangement, but he had been proven horribly wrong. His friend was angry, and only continued with the charade because he was expected to. While it was Zoro’s guess at dinner that originally had put them in this situation, it was Sanji’s insistence that they go through with it that had caused the other man’s discomfort. But Sanji couldn’t understand why Zoro was so angry. If anything he thought the other man would mind less than he did, preferring the company of men in general. Perhaps Zoro didn’t want his reputation questioned. After all, he was supposed to be training to defeat Mihawk, but somehow Sanji had gotten the impression that Zoro didn’t care about appearances. But of course that didn’t mean the man would purposely go out of his way to destroy his image.

Sanji sighed heavily as a young footman opened the door to the carriage. He waited for Zoro to get in until Zoro gave him an impatient look.


Zoro then gave him a flat look which quickly became a smile. “Ladies first.”

Sanji was about to balk at the comment when Zoro’s firm grip forced him into the carriage none too delicately. He almost landed face first and let out an ungentlemanly squawk, followed by Zoro climbing in behind him and shutting the door.

“What was that for you buffoon?”

“Wow. I haven’t heard that one in months, Sanji. Reminds me of the good old days…”

/Careful now, you idiot. He doesn’t respond kindly to being treated badly. Remember? Francois would strangle you if he knew./ It was Zoro’s turn to sigh, and he returned to pinching his nose.

Sanji glared at him and straightened himself in the seat across from him.

“I told you I would not force you to do this, so by that you are certainly here of your own accord. So don’t treat me badly because of your mistake and your decision.”

Zoro looked up. “I know. I am sorry. I just… didn’t know they were going to go this far.”

“Well it isn’t as if the entirety of Versailles does not already know, Zoro, so why not just sit back and enjoy it for god’s sake? If you are worried about your image… well… let your sword do the proving. I never thought I’d ever have to tell you not to let what they say get to you.”

Zoro nodded silently.

“I didn’t know you would be this angry. I certainly didn’t mean for my insistence to cause you discomfort-“

“Don’t apologize. It’s all been a misunderstanding… all of it. I suppose I simply don’t have very fine insight.”

“And just when did this misunderstanding begin? I still don’t understand what happened at dinner.”

Zoro looked out the carriage window. They were heading towards a very tall labyrinth made of immaculate rose bushes. It was just the right time of the season, and all the roses were in bloom. Zoro didn’t particularly care for the wafts of fragrance pervading the area on this warm summer night, but the moon shining down on the red petals wasn’t displeasing.

Sanji would have pressed him further, but he was suddenly obliged to gaze at his companion’s profile as he gazed at the carriage window. The moonlight showed through on his strong face. Again Sanji wondered about the differences between the Zoro he had come to know, his Zoro, and the Zoro everyone else knew.

His Zoro…

The chef watched as different expressions wove in and out of the man’s face. The muscles in his neck flexed slightly, his lips were down turned just barely, and Sanji watched transfixed at the sight of the swordsman’s strong, graceful neck. He followed the line of muscle right down to his clavicle, smooth tan skin stretched over bone, only barely visible under the black fabric of the swordsman’s clothing.

Wearing black really brought out Zoro’s features, he thought.

“We’re here, I think.” Zoro said suddenly.

The carriage came to a slow stop, and the terrified servant (now a footman) climbed down and opened the door. Zoro got out first and waited dutifully, and with a bit more humor, to take Sanji’s hand and help him out of the carriage. He couldn’t help but entertain the notion of Sanji wearing one of Nami’s large, ornate gowns and stepping out of the carriage while blushing and giggling. The thought nearly made him snort with laughter, which Sanji took for mocking him. He punched Zoro in the arm and glared when the footman wasn’t looking.

“Of course, Monsieurs, not just any courtier may come to Her Majesty’s garden. There are candles to light your path through the maze. Please follow them to the gazebo where your meal awaits you. There will be a small orchestra playing a few gardens distance away, so you will have complete privacy…” The small nervous man took a deep breath. “The Queen also requires that you must share at least one dance together. Farewell!”

He flew back to the carriage and took off immediately.

Zoro was determined to maintain his good humor, which was helped along by the look on Sanji’s face.

“I get to dance the lead.” He said, offering his arm with a jovial smile on his face.

Sanji’s frown only increased, but he took the offered arm and they entered the labyrinth of roses. To their right were a row of lit candles mounted on waist high silver mantles. They headed in that direction, their walk a bit stiff at first.

Sanji loved the smell of flowers. He had learned to cook with certain flowers, not merely in the decorative sense. He appreciated the beauty they could add to a meal or desert, as well as the flavor. Roses were hardly something he could cook with, but they were very fragrant and vibrant.

The soft glow of the candles and the shine of the moon gave them plenty of light to travel by and there was never a moment of confusion in where they should go. They had gone on for some minutes before Sanji stopped.

“You know, this might be our only real chance for privacy this evening. Do you want to tell me now what’s been bothering you, or should I pry it out of you in front of Her Majesty’s spies?”

Zoro took a few more steps and stopped. He hadn’t really thought of what to say. The truth was something that came naturally to him, and he honestly had not given thought to lying. It was as if he thought something brilliant would come to him so that he would never have to tell the truth.

But perhaps he could tell part of it, without revealing anything to compromise himself.

“You asked me,” he said, turning around and choosing his words carefully, “when the misunderstanding began. I would have to say on the way home from Francois’ tavern that night. When we spoke about horses and goats.”

Sanji felt his stomach drop. He did not like where this was going. At all.

“I realized, of course, that horses meant… romantic partners suitable for myself, and goats well… you, I suppose. Yourself and other people… unsuitable for me. Your drunken code is very easy to decipher my friend.” Zoro gave a small smile, trying to keep his voice light. Perhaps Sanji was just fool enough not to realize, even after all this, how Zoro felt for him. “You were concerned that evening, I believe, that there was something between myself and Francois. I believe Francois corrected your misguided assumption. I can only take it that you felt Francois was not really suited for me. That he wasn’t really… a horse as you so eloquently put it. You were right, and I agree. There has never been anything in between us.”

“I meant to beg Francois to forgive my rudeness. To be honest, I never get that drunk. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that drunk before. But whatever I said, it meant nothing-“

“But that’s just it Sanji. I thought it did.” Zoro forced a chuckle that he hoped sounded more foolish and less like he was losing his voice.

Sanji was confused. He wasn’t sure what aspect of Zoro discovering this made him nervous. He felt found out, but for what he didn’t know.

“You said something else that night that I thought had a greater bearing on the rest of the following events than it really did.”

Sanji swallowed. “What did I say?”

“You said that… if you were a horse, you would be a good horse for me.” Sanji looked like he was about to interrupt but Zoro held up his hand. “Please, let me finish.”

Sanji nodded, feeling sick and looking like he felt.

“I merely brushed it off at the time. Sanji, you are not the only male friend I have who knows about me. Usopp knows, Ace knew, Yosaku, Johnny. You are also not the first to worry that I may… present you with unwanted advances-“


“Please listen Sanji. This is humiliating enough.” Zoro only hopped the desperate feeling that he was begging didn’t show on his face. “I led myself to believe that the next day you realized you may have… led me on. Or something similar. Perhaps you thought that you allowed me to believe you… had…”

Zoro motioned with his hands, trying to sum up the courage to say words he didn’t want to. He was trying to get through this without admitting that yes, he would love to advance on the other man. But this was just too quickly. He had been steadily losing ground with Sanji since that drunken evening at the tavern. He wasn’t giving up, he just couldn’t admit it. Not right now. Not while all eyes were on them. Not when he wasn’t even worthy yet…

“That you led me to believe you were available. To me.” He finally let it rush out. “So, in my mind, coincidentally preparing a dinner of goat’s meat the next evening… well, you had looked at me so intensely as I ate, I felt like you wanted me to get a message out of it. Which, I suppose, you did. Just not the message I got. I thought you were trying to… trying to throw it in my face that you are not… an option for me. I thought you were being malicious.”

Sanji had stopped breathing and only realized it when his lungs forced him to suck in a deep breath of air all at once. So that’s how it had been. Zoro had never really discovered…

What? Zoro had never really discovered what? What had he been so afraid of? He wasn’t trying to hide anything from the other man! What had he thought he’d been trying to hide? He wasn’t in love with Zoro, that was for sure-

Good God.

/I am./

Zoro seemed ignorant of Sanji’s internal condition, so he continued. “I felt betrayed. In my mind I felt we were friends enough that should you ever feel I was… coming on to you, you would simply be able to use words, instead of tactless action or public humiliation. So I was angry. I don’t have many friends Sanji, and even fewer than I have friends, do I have friends I trust enough to tell my secret. That is why I was so incensed.”

Sanji might have been hyperventilating. He had never experienced it before, so he couldn’t be sure. He was getting dizzy and his head felt very light. The ground became unsteady, so he headed in that direction.

Sanji’s descent to the grass was so fast Zoro didn’t have time to catch his collapsing friend. But he was by his side in an instant. Sanji hadn’t really fallen over, so much as his legs had crumpled underneath him, and he had sat down really hard. He was about to fall back but Zoro held him up by his shoulders.

“Sanji! Are you-“

“Oooh…” He groaned. “Zoro… I’m fine. I am sorry, but for some reason I was not breathing properly. Just… let me sit here for a moment.”

“You need to see the doctor-“

“No, no. Really, I am fine. It’s not as if I’ve got my corset on too tight.” Sanji looked up at Zoro, feeling utterly foolish. Of course he was in love with him. It was everything he hadn’t felt for Mademoiselle Nami, everything he had always fooled himself into believing he did not feel for any woman.

It was a feeling he never allowed himself to believe he would feel.

Marriage and children would have been more than enough. This… this was almost too much. His head swam and he squeezed his eyes shut, but he still saw Zoro. Zoro exhausted after a sparring match, Zoro looking warmly at him at the tavern, Zoro walking through the garden, Zoro bending over his bathtub, concern etched on his features, much like they had been at that time. He could smell the man, his scent drifting over him, intoxicating him all over again.

/This must be why I was so concerned about Francois and Camille…/

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. The ground had stopped spinning and his breathing had returned to normal.

Love was dangerous, he thought.

Zoro helped him to stand. He was a little unsteady at first. He paced the area for a moment, making sure he’d regained his standing.

“Are you alright now? Are you sure you don’t want to go back?” Zoro asked again.

“I’m sure. But… I’m sorry.” He said, holding out his arm to Zoro this time. Zoro accepted it.

“For what?”

“Making you go through all that. I didn’t realize… I would never turn someone down that way, Zoro. And I’m sorry you ever felt that our friendship wasn’t strong. I’ve never felt that you have been inappropriate with me or offended me. I’m sorry I invaded your personal life that way. I had no right to inquire to Francois, let alone tell him he wasn’t a good horse for you-“

Zoro gave a small laugh. “I think he’ll recover.”

Sanji smiled, not out of happiness, but of relief. Relief that even though he’d just discovered himself, Zoro had yet to do so. Or perhaps he had. Either way, it was obvious that even though he did turn out to be a horse in the end, Zoro was not interested.

But they had an entire evening to get through, and he wouldn’t ruin it any further.

It was only a few more yards until the end of the maze, and what it opened up into was just enough to distract both the men from their inner turmoil.

Whatever they had heard about the Queen’s garden was simply not enough to describe the utter beauty of the large enclosure. It was a round garden, and where the entrance began was where the roses bushes stopped. The wall from that point on was made of stone stacked high enough to be taller than Zoro’s outstretched arm. And the garden itself was unlike anything either of them had seen on the palace grounds. It was almost wild, untamed. There was no perfect symmetry one saw with the rest of Versailles. It was just wild splashes of color illuminated by the moon climbing in the sky. Roses and tulips of all colors, ivy creeping up the stone, wild grasses and mosses, a small pond covered in lily pads next to a willow and in the middle, a gazebo covered in ivy. A maid waited inside the gazebo, arranging a few things on their table. She looked up at them and smiled. She curtsied and said,

“Welcome, Monsieurs, to my Queen’s private garden. Should you need anything, please ring this bell-“ she held up a tiny silver bell, “- and I will be with you shortly. Please enjoy.”

She curtsied again and hurried pass them to the exit they had just come from and disappeared around the other corner.

Forget the orchestra, Zoro thought, this place was already alive with sounds. Crickets, frogs, a beautiful peacock crooned peacefully at the far end by the willow and various night birds chirped away.

Sanji too seemed a bit taken back by the beauty of it. He stepped forward on the small path towards the gazebo, and Zoro followed.

Zoro could smell the dinner now and was suddenly reminded of how famished he was. He hadn’t eaten since before training this afternoon with Yosaku and Johnny…

All at once he remembered what they had said to him as they left.

”We’ve decided to leave early to catch a better ride. So… we leave tonight! Ha ha ha!” Yosaku said, slapping Zoro on the back.

“What?! Why can’t you just-“

“Oh Zoro, Zoro, Zoro.” Johnny said, shaking his head. “You know, this blond man of yours is a complete fool. But I think he’s worth it. Just tell him the truth. Win him over with your manly charm! You’ll be fine!”

“And if it turns out for the worse-“

“Don’t be afraid-“

“To call on us-”

“We’ll always be there when you need us-“

“So don’t hesitate!” They said simultaneously. Zoro watched them ride off together. He should have expected that. They either stayed much longer than they said they would, or left without telling you. At least this time they told him. He looked down at the sword in his hands. Yubashiri (1) was beautiful and deadly. It was the perfect addition. Finally his technique would be complete.

But he felt oddly unfulfilled.

As soon as Zoro sat down Sanji went into chef mode. From many yards away they could hear the small orchestra starting up. Zoro snorted.

Sanji pulled the silver domed lid off the tray to reveal a beautiful roasted duck surrounded by heaps of vegetables.

Sanji hmmed. “Not very original, smells like they used basil… with duck? Amateur. It looks tender, I hope it isn’t dry. Gaston always makes it too dry.” He took the bottle of wine to inspect it. “Well at least they have a decent taste in wine. I think you’ll like it.”

“Not a chance. I like my alcohol in grog form only.”

Sanji smiled at that and unscrewed the top quickly. He poured Zoro’s glass then his own, then picked up a knife to serve the duck.

“Do you want any particular section?”

“I trust you.”

They ate in comparative silence with Sanji occasionally commenting here or there about the preparation of the meal. He wasn’t completely dissatisfied, but he certainly could have done better. Zoro didn’t notice much, as he was just hungry.

Then Sanji remembered about yet another mystery unsolved, but he was almost afraid to ask about this one. Somehow he felt he couldn’t take anymore surprises tonight, about himself or anyone else.

“You never did explain about Camille.” He said, sipping his wine.

“Ah. That.” Zoro said, setting his fork down. “Well that’s relatively simple compared to everything else.”

Sanji laughed. “Good, I don’t think I can take much more tonight.”

“I don’t know how Camille found out still but… well I suppose I should tell you to begin with. But… it wasn’t necessarily something I was hiding as much as it was I just wasn’t actively telling anyone. I told you Johnny’s mother comes from Japan, yes?”

Sanji nodded, wondering how on earth that related to Camille.

“Well I never told you that the three of us, Johnny, Yosaku and I have actually been to Japan. Hopped a Portuguese ship over soon after Yosaku learned the language enough for himself. This was about… 7 years ago? I was about seventeen. I had been fencing all over at that point, France, Germany, England, Scotland even. I had heard rumors about Japan and how their men fought with swords made from folded steel called katana. Apparently these people were under a feudal system and had a real warrior class. I wanted to investigate this style of sword and sword fighting and Yosaku really wanted to visit Japan so we went. When I got there I joined something the Japanese call a “dojo”. It’s similar to a school for technique and fighting. It’s strange. Their religion is very much imbedded in their martial arts. Not only did I learn hand to hand combat, but I learn to use a katana. Sanji… these swords are like nothing the world has ever seen. They’re meant for real warfare, you know, one hit battles. Not these flimsy idiotic pieces of metal we use. I brought back two with me. They’re amazing swords, Sanji. One was given to me by my instructor, the other I won in battle. But there was a third that I was searching for but never found before I left. Yosaku and Johnny came to deliver it to me finally, after all this time. I learned to use a technique called “santoryu”. It means three swords. I use all three swords at once.”

“Three swords? That’s impossible, how do you hold the third one?” Sanji asked, momentarily losing himself in the flow of the other man’s voice.

“In my mouth.”

Sanji nearly dropped his glass of wine. “In you’re mouth!? How is it possible for you to gain enough bearing to strike anyone like that? I’d have to see that-“

“Then I’ll show you. Tomorrow. Do you want to see?” Zoro seemed pleased that Sanji was interested.

“You’ll show me? Of course! In fact… there’s something I could probably show you too…” Sanji said, thinking that Zoro could be a good sparring partner, even if he was using swords. It was a good chance to get in shape, and a good excuse to spend time with him.

If that was what he really wanted, anyway. When Sanji finally realized he could never have Nami he put distance between them. But he didn’t want to do that with Zoro.

“What do you mean?”

Sanji shook his head away from the more somber thoughts. “Oh, you’ll see tomorrow. But let’s just say you are not the only warrior at Versailles. But anyway, what does all this have to do with Camille? And forgive me if I am wrong, but you two practically looked engaged the way she stayed so close to you. I would not be more surprised if there was more gossip about that than this.” He gestured to the both of them.

“Well that’s just it. I had never spoken more than two words to her before. In fact from all my limited observation of the woman, I had rather thought she was interested in you. And in front of Nami she said she knew about two of my swords. She asked me why I never brought them to duels at Versailles.”

“Well, why don’t you?”

Zoro scratched his head and sighed. “Well… first of all, they are… they mean more to me than that. I would not use them for petty duels. Besides, DuPont wouldn’t know what to do when he saw them, and I would be at an obvious advantage, though more swords does not always mean the advantage. I’m not boasting Sanji, but I’m far beyond the level of anyone at Versailles, and my aim isn’t to kill anyone. Ace was my only real competition, he was the only who could challenge me. Why do you think I’ve been searching at Mihawk all this time? He is one of the few that I know of who is actually going to be a challenge to me.”

Sanji briefly wondered how close Ace and Zoro had been. “So… this is very strange. All Camille did was expose what she knew and… stayed close to you?”

“Yes. I’m not sure what she means by it. It isn’t as if its material with which she can blackmail me. I’m not hiding anything, like I said- I’m just not actively telling anyone about it. I’m sure Mihawk has a broad knowledge of swords and different techniques, so it isn’t even as if she could sell information to the man. I have no idea how she knew or what she’s planning.”

Sanji didn’t either. Camille Hugues didn’t seem like she held much power in the court. Perhaps she was just trying to get closer to someone who did? He brought the suggestion to Zoro, who simply shrugged and finished off his wine.

“I suppose I’ll deal with it when I must. That was also bothering me, on top of everything else. I suppose I didn’t handle myself very well.” He admitted.

So it seemed everything was settled. Camille was nothing, Sanji now knew why he was bothered that she might have been something to Zoro in the first place, and Zoro had successfully settled everything so that his feelings for Sanji remained unknown.

“So Johnny and Yosaku are gone then? It’s a shame. They are decent men.”

Zoro smiled again, that warm smile that made the chef tingle in his belly. “Yes. I’m sure you’ll meet them again.”

“I hope so.”

They sat together in companionable silence for a few more moments when Zoro finally stood up and held his hand out to Sanji.

“Would you care for a dance?” He said, his gaze steady.

Sanji knew it was too dark outside for Zoro to see his blush, but he still worried about it. He laughed nervously. “You really think we’ll be in trouble if we don’t go through with it?”

That warm smile again. “It is not in me to test the Queen’s wrath. Humor me.”

/How on earth did it take me so long to realize how attracted I am to this man? Even then… Sanji du Cuire… you’re in trouble. What would the old man think?/

Sanji took his hand and let himself be led off the gazebo and out into the garden. The orchestra played a soft tune and Sanji took his place in front of Zoro, automatically putting his hand on Zoro’s waist and reaching for his hand. Zoro laughed. Sanji blushed even hotter.


“I’m the lead, remember?”

“I never agreed to that!”

Zoro placed Sanji’s hand on his shoulder and put his own hand on Sanji’s waist. He was a graceful dancer, but usually he didn’t enjoy it. Tonight, however, he secretly indulged in the activity and the company he was with.

Once Sanji got over his indignation and admitted that it was better this way since Zoro was a few inches taller(2), they moved fluidly and he enjoyed it. Surprisingly so, for a couple who’s female part didn’t know the role. Sanji simply let himself be led. He also let himself be pulled closer. Zoro did this, of course, because they didn’t want to step in the flowers, and they’re path was very narrow. This is what Sanji told himself, and what Zoro hoped Sanji would tell himself. They were nearly nose to nose when Sanji looked up and was startled to find Zoro’s ebony gaze on his cerulean. Sanji didn’t care why Zoro was looking at him, he only hoped the other man wouldn’t look away. He couldn’t help it. He wondered briefly if he’d always been this way, but just not noticed, or chalked it up to other pathetic excuses.

Maybe it was the wine.

Whatever it was didn’t last long. The song was winding down and Zoro was pulling away again. Sanji didn’t mean to do it, honestly he didn’t. But he’d never had much tolerance for wine, which was why he stuck to champagne mostly. And of course he would never go near the stuff they served at Francois’ again. But as Zoro began to pull away he pulled him closer, surprising the swordsman.

“Sanji, the song’s done-“

“I know. Let’s give them something to gossip about.”

The swordsman gave an unsure smile but acquiesced. It seemed Sanji was slightly buzzed and who was Zoro not to take advantage of it? He let his arm slide further around Sanji’s back and gently (hoping Sanji wouldn’t take too much notice) took the hand that was in his hand and put it on his other shoulder. And either Sanji really wanted to give the courtiers a reason to gossip about the next day or he was just too buzzed, but he didn’t seem to mind their extremely close proximity.

He just sighed, content and rested his head on Zoro’s shoulder.

/You are pushing it, my friend…/

Sanji squeezed his eyes shut to block out the offending inner dialogue. He didn’t care if he was pushing it. He’d just discovered something this good, realized he couldn’t have it, and decided he would enjoy it to the extent that circumstances allowed.

As for Zoro, he decided he needed to provide the chef with alcohol more often.


Chapter 9 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Zoro/Sanji ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 11


(1) Yay for Wikipedia! I have since found out that all the historical Ryo Wazamono were swords created between 1597 and beyond. Since our story takes place in an unknown 15-16th century year, we can be sure that there is a glaring historical inaccuracy, as none of the Wazamono had been created, let alone tested and classified as such at this point in history. JUST to let those who are wondering know. XD But hey, it’s an AU. Just letting you know I’ve done SOME research.

(2) My guess is that Zoro is actually the shorter one, but I don’t exactly have any screen caps to go back and check with right now. I’ve looked through two episodes, and they seem about the same height. But for the purposes of my sick, perverted intentions, Zoro is taller.


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