Title: Sad Stories
Day/Theme: Feb. 12 - "The sweet fruition of an earthly crown"
Series: Woxin changdan/The Great Revival
Character/Pairing: Prince Bo of Wu
Crown Prince Bo is a filial son. He does the work of running Wu while his father is away campaigning. Or rather, he does what the chief minister tells him to do unless the matter is so trivial the chief minister tells him to handle it himself. His father doesn't praise his efforts but blames him loudly and publicly if anything goes wrong. The Crown Prince bows his head and no longer tries to defend himself. Some day he'll be king. That thought keeps him plodding through his donkey days, despised by his father and his brothers and the great courtiers. Their contempt sits in his chest, a hard little knot that cuts at his breath when he tries to speak.
Then he discovers how deeply his father despises him. When he loses the one excellent thing he had to call his own there suddenly seems no need to go on plodding. He lets go of consciousness and hides in sleep, rousing grudgingly only for the servants who bring the doctors' medicines. No one else comes to see him- certainly not his father, certainly not his healthy bounding brothers, not the chief minister nor any of the place-seeking nobility. Not even Fu Chai, the only one who's ever looked up to him, loving and admiring, as an older brother. Fu Chai is in Yue, as the woman he loved is in Yue, and neither is coming back. Prince Bo slips further and further from the daylight world, waiting to hear the voice that doesn't come. One day he doesn't wake at all.
But oddly, nothing has changed for him. He lies in the imperial temple and no one visits him. Not his father, not his brothers, not any of the courtiers- nobody comes to pay respects to the Crown Prince's ashes or wish peace to his soul. Prince Bo's sad spirit sits alone in the temple and tells itself stories of the life that should have been his: of power and governance, of war and conquest, of beautiful women and strong devoted sons. To be king, his spirit sings, oh, to be king, oh how wonderful if only I had been king.
And in his own prison Fu Chai's spirit lifts its head and listens.
(J note: since it looks to me that early Fu Chai never had any real (or conscious) aspirations to the throne itself, and just wanted to distinguish himself from among the rabble of royal sons. As who wouldn't, given what a rabble the royal sons are.)