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Lullaby

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Lullaby

~ 30 years ago ~

It started like this.

When Perospero was twenty years old, Charlotte Cracker—age fifteen—came into Perospero’s workshop in the newly christened Sweet City two days after Compote’s wedding, very early in the morning. “Brother Peros,” Cracker said, twisting his fingers. He stood in front of his eldest brother with a nervous expression on his face.

Perospero looked up from his paperwork.

“Custard is pregnant.”

This was not how Perospero expected to start his day. Charlotte Custard was only fifteen, like Cracker, and immediately Perospero saw red.

“Do you know who the father is?” Perospero asked, grip tightened on the pen in his hand and already thinking of ways to vivisect the rapist who dared touch his too young little sister.

Cracker however was looking at the ground. “... I think it’s me.”

Perospero dropped the pen, his anger deflated into dumbfounded bewilderment. “What?”

“I think it’s me,” Cracker repeated.

Perospero gaped, “H-how?”

Except, that was maybe the wrong question to ask. Their Mama fucked her way through twenty husbands without teaching her children anything, in retrospect it was a miracle something like this didn’t happen sooner. Perospero thanked the heavens for once, that it was fortunate he was gay.

The eldest Charlotte son pinched his brows. “Okay, okay, perorin~” Perospero stood and gathered his unfinished work into a pile, already rescheduling the day in his head. “I’ll make a few calls, help get Custard a private doctor. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get rid of the fetus this early into the terms—“

“WHAT!” Cracker interrupted, shocked. “NO! We’re not killing the baby!”

Perospero stared, uncomprehending. “You can’t keep the baby, perorin~” he said.

“Why not?” Cracker asked, crossing his arms. “I love Custard and she loves me. We want to keep our baby, so why can’t we?”

“... you love Custard like a sister,” Perospero tried to explain.

“What’s the difference,” Cracker countered, stubborn like the imprudent underage child he was.

That... Perospero himself actually did not know either, because once again their Mama taught them absolutely nothing. “Fine, you two want to keep the baby,” Perospero said instead, shifting gears to accommodate the rapidly changing situation. “And you want me to...?”

“We need help hiding it from Mama the next... six months?” Cracker replied, a hand on the hilt of his long sword. “I’ll work double to cover for all of Custard’s job. Angel’s too if I have to and—“

“Wait, stop!” Perospero held up his palms. “I’m a little afraid to ask, but is Angel pregnant as well?”

“... I don’t think so?”

Why was that answered with uncertainty, Perospero felt a sudden headache coming. He needed a drink, several actually. It was too early in the goddamn morning for this shit. “I will see what I can do,” Perospero finally said. “We’ll still need a doctor to monitor Custard’s condition, and get Angel tested just in case. I will make sure Custard receives no strenuous job until after the kid is born.”

Cracker lit up, sighing in relief and happiness. “You are the best, Brother Peros!” Cracker gave his eldest brother a quick hug, before running off through the workshop front door. “I’ll tell Custard and Angel the good news, they will be so glad!”

Perospero watched from the open window, his little brother heading back to their elegant manor home to the east of the city, too carefree for the massive catastrophe he just dropped into his eldest brother’s lap. Perospero reached for the snoozing transponder snail on his desk, calling Compote. This was a problem he couldn’t handle alone. Charlotte Cracker and Charlotte Custard were both fifteen, and blood siblings. Not a practice generally accepted in normal society was an understatement, as that was basically an universal taboo. Their family would have to hide this at all cost. Perospero ran a hand through his hair, waiting for the mushi phone to connect. He wondered if in addition to Angel, he should arrange for the seventeen-year-old quadruplet sisters to get tested as well.

Mondee was relatively safe since there was this boy in town she was seeing. Oven however had always liked Amande’s company, and Daifuku spent an awful lot of time with Hachee and Effiler recently. Perospero felt his brain hurt just thinking about this, already dreading the conversation he would probably need to have with Katakuri, to warn him away from Brulee.

Why was this his life?

.

Oven had his mouth hanging open when Perospero summoned the eighteen-year-old triplet brothers into his workshop a few hours later, to inform them of Custard’s pregnancy behind securely shut doors. Oven’s expression morphed into mortified horror when Perospero asked them sternly if any one of them got their sisters pregnant as well.

Daifuku humphed. “We’re not daft, Brother Peros. We know not to fuck our own sisters.”

Katakuri however stiffened like a self-conscious party. Daifuku and Oven turned to him at once in startled confusion, and Perospero zeroed in on the second Charlotte son. “What did you do, Katakuri?” Perospero accused.

“Nothing!” Katakuri immediately said.

That only made him sound guilty as fuck.

Perospero clicked his tongue, trying to keep calm and not jump to conclusions. He should probably get the question out quickly and let anger ran its course. “Did you touch Brulee?”

Katakuri choked on a cough, muffled by his scarf. “Brulee is only thirteen, Brother Peros! Oh my god, don’t even joke about this!”

They were all staring at him now. Oven seemed immensely uncomfortable, Daifuku was fidgeting, and Perospero was somewhere between frustration and resignation. Katakuri pulled over a chair and sat down, purposefully turning away.

“What did you do then, perorin~?” Perospero asked again, he didn’t know what to think. I expected better from you? I expected you of all people, to be above the fucked up dysfunctional mess that was our family?

“... I did nothing,” Katakuri replied.

So, that was that.

.

Katakuri came knocking on Perospero’s door late that night, in their stately family manor. A bedroom too empty after his fraternal sister Compote moved into the city with her husband.

Katakuri took off his scarf and sat down on the satin couch facing the twin beds. “I wasn’t lying earlier,” Katakuri said, stretching out his long legs. He was still dressed in leather outfits and boots, always seemed like he was prepared for war at immediate notice, since that traumatic night a decade ago. “That is what I did. Nothing.”

Perospero offered his little brother a warm cup of black tea and took a seat next to him, adjusting the folds of his butterscotch nightgown. He tilted his head in silent question.

Then Katakuri leaned over and kissed his older brother, sharp teeth pressing against soft lips and tongue. He tasted like the black tea.

Perospero jumped, turning his head slightly to break the sudden contact. “W-what are you doing?”

Katakuri settled back, but his intense crimson gaze was focused and unmoving. “... about two years ago, when I was sixteen, after we took down the Inkblot Pirates,” Katakuri slowly began, “Do you remember that?”

“A little,” Perospero replied, not sure where this was going. “There was a party that night. A lot of booze, I remember being hangover the next day, perorin~”

“A lot of people were,” Katakuri agreed. “I was sober though, was worried to leave our crew too unprotected. Probably shouldn’t have bothered.”

“What are you trying to say?” Perospero asked.

Katakuri licked his dry lips. “... ... Oven fucked me against a crate that night, in the ship stowage. He was drunk, I wasn’t, but I did nothing. I didn’t stop him. Oven didn’t remember the incident after, but I did.” Katakuri sighed, “You can yell at me now, Brother Peros. I didn’t want Oven to know, earlier. He would hate me, for taking advantage of him.”

That was, quite a lot to take in.

It happened two years ago before they came to this archipelago, on Lullaby Chanter, when they were all there, and nobody realized something was seriously wrong. Did Katakuri act any different the next day? Perospero could not remember, he suddenly felt like he didn’t know his family well at all. “... you were sixteen,” he murmured. “... you were a victim.”

Katakuri clenched his fist, temper immediately flared. “Under influence or not, I refuse to entertain the notion my little brother assaulted me in any way,” Katakuri said quietly, throat tight and indignant. “I am stronger than him. I could have stopped him, I didn’t. It was my fault, blame me!”

“Is that why you kissed me just now?” Perospero asked coldly. “So I would somehow blame you?”

Katakuri bared his fangs and hissed.

.

It was very late that night on Lullaby Chanter, but distant sound of ongoing party could still be heard from the upper deck. Oven was drunk, was the first thought flashing through Katakuri’s mind. His back pressed up against polished wooden planks that made up the ship interior, uncoordinated hands on his bare waist, skin touching flushed skin, and a knee between his thighs. Oven was kissing him, shared breath tasted of rich grape wine.

Katakuri was gasping hard, heart thundering in his ribcage, but his hands gripping on Oven’s broad shoulders were steady. He could shove him away.

For some reason, he did not.

“... Oven,” Katakuri said, and was horrified that it sounded like a choked off moan. Katakuri was sixteen, with out-of-control teenage hormones flowing through his blood stream. He was getting hard, his body responsive, helplessly reacting to even the smallest of stimuli. “Oven, stop.”

“Why don’t you push me away?” Oven murmured, his speech slurred. He pulled off the scarf that was in the way, and attacked his brother’s exposed neck with his teeth.

Somewhere between the wall and being held down against a crate, Katakuri lost his belt and trousers. Incinerated and torn into smoking rags by the heat of devil fruit power. Oven kissed the back of his neck. “I love you. I’ve wanted this for so long.”

A string of words that Katakuri could not decipher, with his brain shutting down. Oven’s hands were really large, Katakuri wondered why he never noticed this before. Oven could easily pin down both of his own wrists with just one hand, as he was doing now. Katakuri bit his lips, drawing blood, gagging his desperate keens. Something warm and slippery was poured down his naked back. There was food everywhere on their pirate ship, and now there was slick hot butter between his legs.

Katakuri was physically stronger than his triplet brothers, he could still shove Oven away.

He could.

He could.

... he should.

Oven tipped his face to the side, to kiss him again, tongue darting out to lick his serrated sharp fangs. Katakuri’s eyes fluttered close, he didn’t shove Oven away.

It was uncomfortable at first, inside.

Invasive, with every thrust.

And then it started to feel good, frighteningly good, wet and obscene, and absolutely a mistake. Oven held Katakuri’s aching arousal in his much larger hand, a firm rhythm, thumb brushing the tip of his oversensitive cock, and let him leak.

When it was all over, Oven fell asleep almost immediately afterward, on top of his older brother in a drunken stupor. Katakuri stayed for a moment longer to calm his racing pulse, before pushing himself up carefully. He did it quietly and without dislodging Oven to the floorboards, the responsible brother again once the madness passion had stopped. Katakuri mindfully cleaned both of them, salvaged burnt leathers from the floor to somewhat cover himself, before throwing the dirtied crate into the sea, like a child destroying the evidence after accidentally wetting the bed.

Katakuri then heaved his little brother over his shoulders and brought him back to their shared quarters on the ship. Daifuku was already snoring lightly on the top bunk, so Katakuri tucked Oven into the lower mattress and pulled up the covers.

Katakuri did not rest throughout the night, as he stared at his younger triplets, mulling over the event again and again. He felt awful, guilt eating at his soul. Katakuri convinced himself he did not hate the incident as much as he probably should and that he was an absolute monster for taking advantage of his own little brother.

There was a minuscule possibility, that this was the reason Katakuri started shying away from further forms of physical intimacy in the future.

.

~ 29 years ago ~

Cracker and Custard’s child was born very sick and frail. They were sixteen, and their baby died before the eighth month of life.

Custard took it especially hard, sobbing against Cracker’s chest. Angel patted her sister on the back, also with painful tears in her violet eyes. “It’s not fair. Why does the world make it so that we are incapable of carrying children for those we love?”

This was how the Charlotte siblings learn the dangers of inbreeding, through the hardest way.

.

~ 28 to 27 years ago ~

When Perospero and Compote were twenty-two years old, they were respectively assigned Minister of Candy and Minister of Fruit. They were the very first to govern their own independent islands, living away from Mama’s watchful gaze. It was convenient in a way, since the Charlotte children realized they could hide stuffs they didn’t want Mama to know about at their eldest siblings’ places. The Charlotte sons went to Perospero, while the Charlotte daughters naturally gravitated towards Compote.

Perospero stored away a lot of weird shit for his numerous younger brothers, but nothing as mind-boggling as what Charlotte Daifuku and Charlotte Oven brought to his doorstep when the triplets were almost twenty-one. It was a newborn baby boy, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Perospero observed Daifuku’s blond hair and gray eyes, then turned to Oven’s gradient orange hair and blue eyes. “So... are you guys going to tell me who fucked up this time?”

Daifuku shifted his gaze, somewhat uneasy. Oven scratched his cheek, equally sheepish. “We don’t know actually.”

Perospero facepalmed. “How could you not know? Who did the deed?”

The middle triplet rolled his eyes. “We both did, okay?” Daifuku grumbled, “The same woman and at the same time, FYI. Any more questions?”

Perospero coughed. “No, that’s quite enough.”

“We don’t know what to do now, Brother Peros,” Oven said, holding up the baby. “Can you help us?”

Perospero reached over to take the small precious bundle. “I’ll take care of him, perorin~” Perospero said, gently rocking the infant to sleep, nurturing maternal side surfacing as he smiled, but then his expression hardened. “Under one condition. You will never see him again, promise me this.”

Oven was already moving to take the baby back, apparently not prepared at all to part with the kid forever. Daifuku stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Why, Brother Peros?” Daifuku asked.

Perospero held the baby carefully, regretful but knew he had no choice. “You two will eventually marry in the future, with proper wives and have children that can carry on Mama’s name. An illegitimate child is not so different from our many ex-fathers, and need I remind you two how many of them we’ve already killed?”

Oven was now white as sheet. Daifuku frowned.

“Your knowledge and involvement will only put this child at needless risk, perorin~” Perospero finished. “It is better for you to just walk away, forget about him and let him be another face among the thousands of orphans this world produced. Allow him the freedom to grow up peacefully in this paradise our family built, without the burden of our family name.”

Oven was visibly struggling with himself, but ultimately relented with a sigh. He came closer, fingers gently touching the sleeping baby’s rosy cheek. “I hope you will have an easier life, a happier life,” Oven whispered, “Goodbye, rice ball.”

Perospero smiled, glad that his younger brothers could understand, but then something else suddenly occurred to him. He looked up. “Is Katakuri a part of this mess?”

Oven froze, and was rapidly shaking his head. Daifuku coughed, “O-of course not, Katakuri is not interested.”

Perospero gave the two triplets a dubious glare. “You better not be lying to me.”

“We aren’t, it is just...” Oven frowned. “Katakuri has been... acting strange, when we offered to, you know. That’s not the point. He wasn’t involved.”

Oven’s unease leaded Perospero to abruptly recall that late night confession, three years ago, when Katakuri reluctantly shared his secret. The mistake between Oven and Katakuri, that Oven would never remember and Katakuri would never forget, a conundrum ticking down the years like a timed bomb. Perospero bit his tongue, deciding it was perhaps better to keep this to himself. It was after all not his place to pry.

Later, Perospero called Compote via transponder snail, to tell her he was hiding a baby at his place. Compote told him in return that she was hiding Broye, sixteen-year-old and four months pregnant, what the hell? Compote then asked Perospero if he wanted to take care of their little sister’s accident baby after they were born. Perospero thought, why the hell not, he had enough space for another one.

.

It wasn’t another one.

Broye had a set of quadruplets.

.

~ 26 years ago ~

Katakuri went missing for two months the year he would turn twenty-two. Tottoland was infiltrated by enemy pirates during his absence, everything was in chaos during the aftermath, and this was the first thing he said to his eldest brother after he came back home.

“I’m sleeping with Oven now.”

Perospero didn’t even have the energy to offer anything more than a numbed blink. Their family had enough skeletons in their collective closet, Perospero felt like he was swimming in them, drowning in a pile of bones.

“I thought you hate this, the physical contact,” Perospero said. “What changed?”

“Nothing changed. Guess I just stop caring at one point, because the world simply refuses to work the way I preferred it to,” Katakuri replied, then almost as an afterthought, added, “Oven wanted my body, I agreed.”

Before Perospero could say anything to that, a shatter of teapot and china cups caused him to abruptly turn around. Perospero saw to his horror a servant had walked in on their conversation at the most inappropriate moment. A handsome man in his late thirties, one of Perospero’s many lovers.

Katakuri was not surprised. Perospero had half a second to understand what was happening, before a jellybean was flipped like a bullet shot from hand pistol. The man collapsed onto with floor clutching at his neck, unable to make a sound, with blood gushing out of his throat and windpipe.

“You let him heard that on purpose,” Perospero accused, because there was no way Katakuri didn’t foresee this turn of events. “You know what you’re doing is wrong.”

“I am helping you clean out the trash.”

Perospero sighed, shaking his head and felt the beginning of a migraine. “I’m not talking about the dead man, I am talking about you and Oven. It is wrong, you need to stop.”

Katakuri just gave him an incomprehensible chilling glance. “You are in no position to berate me.”

“What are you implying?”

Katakuri gestured to the corpse growing cold on the floor. “How many lovers do you have now, Brother Peros? Twenty? Thirty? Is that the right thing to do?” Katakuri hissed. “Our Mama is a whore, and apparently so are you.”

Perospero was livid with the words coming out of his younger brother’s mouth, he struck him across the face. The hit didn’t land of course, his spindly wrist seemed especially fragile caught in a much stronger hand. That blasted precognitive observation haki.

“I just learned from the goddamn best,” Katakuri snarled. He didn’t let go of his elder brother’s arm, instead he pulled closer, almost violently, flicking out his tongue to lick along the slender fingertips to wrist to arm. His older brother tasted sweet as candy, such an amazing devil’s ability.

Perospero didn’t know whether he should fight back or not, his brain turning into useless jello. Distantly he realized Katakuri’s tongue was almost as long as his own, just always kept inside his mouth and hidden underneath layers of scarf. It gave him the appearance of a humanoid serpent, with hideously sharp fangs and abnormally-sized tongue.

Perospero could not remember when was the last time he was so genuinely scared of Katakuri, his own little brother. Perospero was not a weak man, not since he was ten. There were not that many people in the world now, who could force him against his will.

But Katakuri could.

The sound of cloth ripping, buttons bouncing off the floor. His dress shirt hung in tatters on his body, exposing acres of smooth pale skin.

“Say no,” Katakuri whispered, hand pressing his older brother down on the couch. “I’ll stop.”

Perospero swallowed, but said nothing.

Katakuri didn’t penetrate him, for all that was worth, because he would always find the act unnatural and weird. Instead, he licked his older brother like a piece of delicious lollipop, turning Perospero into a mushy whimpering mess leaking candy syrup all the same.

Perospero did not say no throughout the night, biting down on incoherent words behind breathless moans. Katakuri gave him a chaste kiss on the lips the next morning, like a reward.

Perospero got himself properly dressed before sending Katakuri away, to piece back together the last shred of his dignity. Katakuri stopped as they were making their way through the hall corridor, pausing in front of an ajar oak door.

“There are a lot of kids here.”

“Yes.”

“Are they all ours?” Katakuri asked.

Perospero chuckled. “Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said, but purposely didn’t give a straight answer. Katakuri’s eyes followed the five toddlers playing with cereal and throwing flour at each other in the kitchen, their exasperated hired caretaker was waving a napkin in the air. They were of similar ages, but Katakuri kept his focused gaze on the boy with blond hair and blue eyes.

.

~ 25 to 22 years ago ~

Charlotte Custard and Charlotte Angel were twenty when they came to Perospero asking for a favor.

“Sister Compote told us you keep unwanted children at your place,” Custard said. She was nervous and holding onto Angel’s hand. “So, if we got pregnant with babies we don’t want, could you take care of them after they are born?”

Perospero stared. “Are you pregnant now?”

Custard and Angel shook their heads.

“Then why that specific question?” Perospero asked curiously. “Are you two planning on getting yourselves pregnant, perorin~?”

Angel bit her lips, “Kind of. Yes.”

“Why?”

“Well, umm.”

Perospero waited patiently for the answer.

“Because if we are already carrying some random kid, then Cracker wouldn’t be able to accidentally impregnate us again!” Custard blurted out.

“Please, Brother Peros,” Angel clasped her hands together. “We don’t know who else to ask.”

.

So, it became a trend.

Perospero extended the size of his personal candy mansion with a wave of his hand, to make more rooms for the children and additional staffs he would need to employ at his place. Perospero also started gathering orphans found throughout the many cities and towns of Tottoland, to hide leaves in the forest as the wise men said. When Angel brought him a baby girl with lavender hair and purple eyes one year later, Perospero welcomed her with a gracious smile and no questions asked.

After Angel’s single child at twenty-one, was Noisette at seventeen with twins. Nineteen-year-old Basskarte and Dosmarche brought in another single child with actual father unknown, followed by Custard now at twenty-three with triplets.

Charlotte Linlin gave birth to children every year since she was eighteen, an unfortunate example set for her many children to mimic, without teaching them anything. Perospero pulled out a detailed list trying to keep track of their very complicated family tree. There were now two dozen rumbustious kids playing in his personal candy mansion, half among them actually Charlottes in everything but name.

.

~ 21 years ago ~

Charlotte Perospero was twenty-nine and this was the year he built Lamb’s House, the would-be largest orphanage in the world.

Just in time as well, because Charlotte Katakuri brought a set of fraternal twins to this newly constructed orphanage at the end of that year. A boy and a girl, both four years old, with different shades of brilliant pink hair. The twins were significantly older compared to the other illegitimate children Perospero received from his younger siblings throughout the years. They sobbed and whined, desperately calling Katakuri their ‘papa’ and begging him not to leave.

“Yours?” Perospero asked, very shocked.

Katakuri shook his head. “Brulee’s kids,” he explained. “I’ve been taking care of them at my place, with Brulee, but Mama wants her back on Whole Cake Island after she got that useful mirror ability. My job is demanding, I cannot do this alone with Brulee gone.”

Perospero nodded slowly. He bent down so he could look at the kids in the eyes, offering them his hands. The twins appeared healthy enough at least, so unlikely to also be Katakuri’s biological kins, thank god for small mercies. Though that did nothing to change the fact Katakuri basically admitted he had been playing some form of twisted pretend marriage with his own sister for at least four years, with two innocent children ignorant of their ‘parents’ blood relationship.

“I will not judge, but you will never see them again. Is that clear?” Perospero warned. “Children are not dolls for you to play house with, please don’t make the same mistake our Mama did.”

Katakuri stared at the ground. “... ... Thank you, Brother Peros,” Katakuri finally said, then half-kneeled, to give his twin children one last farewell hug. “I am sorry,” Katakuri murmured, his tone heartbreakingly tender. “I am very sorry.”

The twins cried.

They would never understand.

.

~ 20 to 18 years ago ~

Charlotte Amande and Charlotte Daifuku were married on the same day due to a social political arrangement, to a pair of warrior siblings. Amande did not love her husband, she was twenty-seven when she married and then murdered her spouse.

Daifuku on the other hand deeply loved his wife, he was twenty-eight when he savoured this wondrous fruit of happiness. It was ironic that his marriage would in the end suffer the greater tragedy, barely two years later, when Daifuku was forced to make a choice under Mama’s explicit command. To kill his beloved wife with his own two hands, his pregnant wife who carried the tiny heartbeat of another life. Or to be brand a traitor, forcing his dearest triplet siblings to put him down instead?

Daifuku made his choice. To keep his two brothers conscience clean of spilling loved family blood from his veins, Daifuku had to kill his heart and soak his own hands in red. His psyche never truly recovered from this incident for the rest of his days.

.

After Daifuku was Charlotte Smoothie. She became the youngest Sweet Commander of the family when she was fifteen, sharing with two older brothers the second highest rank within Tottoland.

It had such a dangerous repercussion.

Unlike Katakuri whose capability for romantic love was broken by emotional trauma and betrayal, nor Cracker who carefully reserved his affection only for his triplet sisters. Smoothie was young and an impressionable teenager at this time, she could be swayed by matters of the sentimental heart.

Smoothie was seventeen, when she was told to kill the woman she loved. She did so for responsibility, again and again and again.

.

“So, perorin~” Perospero said one day, out of the blue. “Are you—“

“Anything,” Katakuri cut him off, crimson eyes were always so cold now. “I am willing to do anything, so they could feel a tiny bit better.”

Perospero placed his hands on the balcony railings, gazing out at this wonderland country from the chateau veranda, where hills sang and cities danced. Tottoland was this fantasy paradise, held together by threads of insanity tightly woven into the warped psychological of their governing house. Perospero wondered how many siblings had Katakuri already slept with, and then realized he probably did not want to know at all. The list could be sickeningly long.

“You need to learn how to say no to family, Katakuri,” Perospero said instead.

Katakuri joined his older brother on the outdoor garden overlooking their family home. “You didn’t say no to me,” he countered.

That was true.

The same problem apparently ran in the family.

Katakuri was observing his older brother out the corner of his eyes. “I would not say no, if Mama had requested.”

Perospero accidentally broke the banister at those words, uttered so nonchalantly. It was astonishing that his little brother was still capable of horrifying him to this day.

“Good thing she never give me the time of day,” Katakuri finished, voice so carefully neutral.

“... Are you disappointed?”

Katakuri shrugged. “I already gave her everything else. My life, my soul, my conscience, and my autonomy. It makes little sense she would let me keep this, my body, that worth comparably so much less.” Katakuri turned to the sky, and continued, “Not to mention, there were not too many fathers actually tall or big enough to truly satisfy her needs, but I know I am. I just have trouble figuring out why Mama is deliberately ignoring me, when I am right there.”

“You are her son, Katakuri,” Perospero answered quietly. “I think that is reason enough.”

Katakuri however, laughed. “Blood ties did shit to stop us from fucking around though, Brother Peros,” Katakuri said, there was a manic glint in his eyes. “Or perhaps, we are actually worse. As children born from a monster’s womb.”

.

Ministers of Tottoland all had customized battleships under their name. Each vessel equipped with separate sleeping quarters for crewmen and crew-women, but only a single stateroom for the ship commander with an attached personal lounge. Charlotte siblings always shared a room—and consequently, a bed—whenever they traveled out to sea. It was a safety precaution practice for the younger children, but perhaps served another purpose once they got older.

There were hushed rumors of course, of what happened behind tightly closed doors, but people who cherished their lives knew to shut up about the most dangerous royal house on the sea.

.

~ present year ~

Charlotte Perospero was fifty years old now and he managed the largest orphanage in the world. Inside, hid the most well-kept secret in Tottoland.

Occasionally there would be caretakers that filed in those complaints. Certain boys who ate too much everyday, certain girls who displayed disturbingly violent behaviors, children that were somehow capable of breaking apart reinforced candy tables and chairs. Perospero read through those notes with a sad smile, feeling warm, but knowing as well a week later would be that time of the year again, for soul tax to be collected.

King Chess and Queen Chess were exceptionally powerful peacekeeper homies sporadically produced by the civilian population. Perospero knew very well where they came from, since it mattered not how many among the hundreds of orphans under his supervision secretly carried the strength of Charlotte blood in their veins, but without inheriting the Charlotte title in their names. They would all grow up ignorant of their true heritage—a curse or a blessing?—to become renowned chefs on different islands or the occasionally remarkable young soldiers within their mother’s or father’s infantry.

Someone rang on the doorbell of the Candy Minister’s personal mansion. Perospero went to answer the door, wondering if it were another among the orphanage children again that always wanted to play.

It was Dango, an extremely tall man with gradient burgundy blond hair tied in a ponytail and crimson-tinged blue eyes. He was a newlywed confectioner living on Candy Island at twenty-seven years old, and today he became a father, so naturally he came to tell this great news to the closest person to a father figure he ever knew.

“I’ve got triplets, two boys and a girl!”

Perospero laughed and leaned up, to give the taller young man a tight hug. “Congratulations,” Perospero whispered.

There was a reason Dango could bench-press five tons without training a day in his life. There was a reason Dango looked like he could be the famous Charlotte triplets’ son, whoever his birth father was. Despite the persistent tragedy that plagued the triplet boys’ relationship life, from here, the most important of the Charlotte blood lived on.

.

.