A/N: Yay! First of the month! Ah, I might start to update every two weeks. It's easier XD; Meh, I got kind of disheartened but I'm feeling better now which is mostly due to the fact that I got a new English-Japanese dictionary for my birthday (which was two days ago :D). This is good because I was unsure of the word for 'siblings'. The 'go' before 'kyoudai' (which is the word for siblings) makes it formal which is what I wanted. Anyway! Thank you for reviews and enjoy this chapter!

Ouji-sama no BURAIDO Monogatari

'The Story of the Prince's Bride'

By Rabuyuu

Chapter 7 - Fushigi na Gokyoudai (Mysterious Siblings)

When I was twelve my mother decided to try and instil some responsibility in me. So, this in mind, she went to a neighbour's house and kindly asked (more like demanded) that I be allowed to look after their six-year-old spoilt brat when they next went out alone together.

My first experience of babysitting did not go well. (My second wouldn't either but you'll find out about that later.)

It started with our introduction.

I was sent around to their house at precisely seven p.m. The parents of the brat, whose name happened to Ayako, were running around, yelling things like, '"Numbers on fridge', and 'My mobiles on speed dial'. I just sat down on their couch, trying to look like the respectable gentleman my mother had made me out to be.

It seemed to work and, when they were about to leave, the mother of Ayako bent down, kissing my cheek, and thanking me again and again for at least five minutes. All for looking after her angel, but then...her 'angel', as it turned out, was anything but.

I'd been told that Ayako was upstairs playing with a jigsaw puzzle so I did what any good babysitter did, I went to check on her. Just to make sure that she was fully occupied so I could go watch TV.

The little girl's bedroom almost had me throwing up on the spot. It was a typical spoilt brat's harem. Baby pink wallpaper complete with pink pony border, it even had purple sheer drapes coming to fall over the bed, with a series of dolls and teddy bears flung across the bed at random. It was a mess, all of it. A dish filled with leftover food had been shoved unceremoniously in a corner, a doll with only one eye lying next to it, its arm pulled off and lying over her chest.

The little girl, who sat in the middle of the room, didn't so much as look at me when I walked in, even though I made enough noise to wake the dead. She was also pointedly not doing a jigsaw puzzle as her parents had told me. Instead she had a doll in her hand, a needle in the other and was repeatedly stabbing the doll in several places. It looked strangely like voodoo, the doll even had a piece of material, probably torn from an article of clothing, wrapped around its neck.

This should, in retrospect, have really been a sign for me to lock myself in the bathroom until the kid's parents got back. But I didn't.

Instead I, very stupidly, walked over, knelt down in front of her and waited for the brat to look up and introduce herself properly.

A few minutes went by and still she didn't say anything, apparently not wanting to acknowledge my presence. I glared but quickly shook my head and cleared my throat, holding my hand out to the girl.

"Hey there, I'm Shiomi Yuuji, what's your name?"

She looked up and I almost ran away then and there. She had the most frightening look on her face, her eyebrows narrowed but her lips curved slightly. It was…extremely disorientating. Then her right eyebrow raised slightly and she extended her hand. I shook it quickly and then dropped it like it was particularly hot. Ayako glanced down at her hand and then placed it in her lap demurely. She crooked her head to one side, before finally answering me. "My name is Ayako. Want to play with me?" No. Not at all.

I – politely – declined and tried to walk down the stairs again but she grabbed my arm, laughing right in my ear, although her laugh was more of a cackle that sent a shiver up and down my spine.

"Look...ah...Ayako, I need to go downstairs and..."

She ignored me, using her grip on my arm to pull me down to sit once more and shoved a random doll in my arms. "You'd better play with me...or I'll tell my parents that you're a pervert who tried to do naughty things with me."

What the HELL?!

Ayako grinned, "You should see what happened to the last babysitter..." Her eyes roamed, falling onto the doll with one eye. I followed her gaze, almost squeaking when I saw the doll in all its broken glory.

Her eyes came back to mine and she smiled, grabbing a tea set and setting it up between us. "So, shall we begin? Or I'll scream and the neighbour's will come and see you hurting me..."

So, as you can see, my first experience with babysitting did not go well at all. Which is why, when Romey came up to me and announced that my first test as a Candidate was to 'entertain' the Royal Siblings – whose names I still hadn't been told – for four hours, I just blinked at him. Apparently they would then give me a number, ranking the ones they had found the nicest. My mind immediately flashed back to the fateful day with the Brat from Hell. My lips twitched and Romey's eyebrow raised.

I took one look at the elegant Advisor and laughed right in his face.

"I can't do it." I finally said once I'd calmed down. Gurty, as comforting as ever, put her hand on my arm, giving me an encouraging smile. Or what was probably supposed to be encouraging anyway. It only made me more nervous and I quickly shrugged her hand off, hoping it didn't insult her at the same time.

"Of course you can Deary." She proclaimed, turning to Romey. "Can't she?"

The Royal Advisor nodded explicitly, his dark blue hair swaying slightly with his movement. "It is actually quite a simple task to complete Lady Julia. You do not even have to leave your room..."

"If you want it trashed." Fulton inputted, making Romey glare at him before clearing his throat.

"I am sure the siblings will love you..."

"Well, you'd better hope so. Otherwise you're kinda screwed, y'know?"

Romey coughed meaningfully and Fulton grinned, throwing an arm around my shoulders. "Aw, my Lady Julia knows I'm only joking, right?"

I shrugged his arm off, shaking my head. "How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not your..."

"I am sure you will do just splendidly Lady Julia," Romey interrupted, cutting off my speech and giving Fulton a warning look before continuing. "Before you meet the children Fulton and I took it upon ourselves to decide if it would be a good idea to tell you about them. Although we also had take it into account that this is technically against the rules we agreed that it would indeed be a good idea. Please, however, keep in mind that you must keep this quiet Lady Julia."

Fulton nodded, grinning by his side and holding up his hand. At first I thought he was giving me the 'V' victory sign but then he raised another finger, shoving the three of them in my face.

I blinked, stepping back slightly and Fulton dropped his hand, grinning widely. "Well, there's three of them."

"I would never have guessed..." I muttered, glaring at him.

Romey stepped in between of us, blocking my sight of Fulton, which was probably a good idea. I wanted to scratch his eyes out with my newly grown and manicured fingernails. "The most important thing to remember is that the siblings never see their older brother."

I blinked. What? "But...But they were siblings!" I proclaimed, frowning slightly as I thought about it. It was...impossible. How could they not see each other? They even lived in the same house! Or...castle really, but still.

Romey winced slightly at my exclamation but nodded; a grave smile seemingly painted on his face. "It is...a tradition of ours. At the age of seventeen the Crown Prince is taken away from his siblings and is not to see them until either he is made King or he steps down, in which case the next in line will be taken away and so forth."

I stared, wide-eyed for a moment before shaking my head. "But...that's...that's..." I couldn't even think of a word bad enough to describe that. Taking a brother (or sister) away from their loved ones just because of a stupid tradition? It was just plain awful.

Romey shrugged, "That is the way it has always been."

"Well...then...it should be changed!"

Fulton rolled his eyes, patting me on the head. "So naïve. You can't just change the rules like that," he snapped his fingers for emphasis. "Although I guess if you were chosen..." Why did he sound so doubtful? He was supposed to be my Knight! Weren't they supposed to stand by you at all times? If so then Fulton was seriously lacking in that department. I didn't gain an ounce of support from him at all. "I suppose...you'd be able to change things then. Or influence them anyway."

I was just about to ask him to elaborate on this when Romey began talking again, explaining about the siblings. "The oldest sibling is Prince Thorkenis." ...Say that a bit slower? "Most people call him Kenis however." I nodded, relieved, 'Kenis' I could handle.

Romey gave a small smile, a sad one that made me frown. "He was, without a doubt, the closest to the Crown Prince and took the separation the hardest." I noted this and nodded for Romey to continue.

The Advisor thought for a while, his brow creasing. "He spends most of his time alone reading, quite the scholar for his age."

Fulton laughed, elbowing Romey in the side before saying, "He's almost as bad as you, eh?"

Romey frowned, moving away from Fulton slightly. I inwardly cheered him on, watching as Fulton pouted in reply and folded his arms over his chest. Ha! Score three for Romayne von Yongshi and score...nil for Fulton von Ludvin.

"Lord von Ludvin I believe it would be imperative of you to remember that."

Fulton immediately backed down, looking shame-faced and...did he just apologise? I watched as Romey nodded graciously to him, placing his hand on his arm for a moment before removing it and turning back to me.

"Now," he started. "Kenis has, so far, not even deigned to give the other candidates a number which is why I want you to pay particular attention to him. It is vital that you get his favour as he was, as I have already said, the closest to his brother in terms of relationship."

I nodded, showing I understood. I felt peculiarly like all I was doing lately was nodding. It was ridiculous.

"Now," Romey carried on, wincing slightly. "The youngest are twins, an identical set of mischief makers."

"Yeah, gotta be careful 'round them. They like their jokes."

For a moment I pictured two Ayakos and blanched, backing away slightly. They wanted me to look after not one but two demons? No way! It was hard enough with just one! I was just about to turn and run when Romey caught the back of my dress, holding me still. I struggled but eventually had to give in, pouting slightly.

"I apologise but you must do this to go on to the next round." Well...great. What if I didn't want to go onto the next round?

I sighed, "Is there anything else I should know about the twins?"

Romey thought for a moment before shrugging slightly. "The Princess is older by ten minutes – a fact she will tell you within moments of your meeting. Her name is Frayakala, although most simply call her 'Kala'." Did all the 'royal siblings' have ridiculously long names that required nicknames just so people could actually pronounce them? "The brother is...slightly more sensible than his sister. Prince Freyrakulin, who is referred to as 'Kulin'." I wondered for a moment how long it would take for me to forget their names entirely and nodded slowly as Romey finished off. "And that is really all you need to know, are you clear on all the facts Lady Julia?"

I nodded and Romey smiled, making my knees feel weak for a moment. He had such a nice smile...

Fulton grinned, linking his arm around Romey's and beginning to lead him away, stopping when he got to the door and crooking his finger at me. "Well? You comin' or not?"

Gurty looked at him, scandalised. "Deary cannot possibly go yet! Look at what she's wearing!"

I twitched. What was wrong with what I was wearing? This dress was one of the...'subtlest' ones I owned. Deep green in colour with no frills or lace or anything; it was one of the only ones that I'd been able to choose myself (for once). I actually almost liked it.

Fulton stopped; huffing slightly but he seemed to think, looking me over before giving another grin, wider this time. "Yeah, you're right! My Lady Julia has to 'dress down' in order to entertain the young Princes and Princess. In fact, I think she should wear trousers."

He did not just say...trousers? Trousers?! Fulton was my new love...

"R-really? I can...really?!" I stumbled over the words, ignoring Gurty's angered mutterings and focusing on the man who was offering me trousers. Honest to God trousers!

Fulton laughed, holding out his hands and waving them in my direction. "Nah, just kiddin'."

That was...low. Very...very low.

I pounced, my hands going for his neck before we even made contact.

The Princess took one look at me, scrunched up her nose, and promptly proclaimed, "I hate you."

I blinked, standing up straight from my near-crouch and looking at her twin who wore an identical expression, actually taking a step back to avoid me. "You smell weird too."

...That would be the perfume Gurty forced on me. 'Everything for a good impression,' she said. Huh.

I gave them a pained smile, squatting again and holding out my hand. "Hello...Your…er...Highnesses, my name is..."

"I don't care what your name is! Anyone with that kind of fashion sense should be shot!" Little...brat...My eye twitched. I had to clench my hands to keep them from going to the girl's neck and just strangling her on the spot. I'd been feeling sore ever since Fulton was able to side-step me and I banged straight into the wall instead of his stupid body.

"I'm sorry about the dress, it was my maid's idea..."

"That is no excuse for you agreeing to wear it. But...I suppose it that is true then she should be shot as well." The Princess told me, her brother nodding in a show of agreement.

I took several deep breaths, trying to calm myself down and not just smother the two Royals with a pillow. A quick glance told me that the eldest prince, Kenis, was still sat in the corner where he'd been ever since I'd first showed up.

He was curled up on the window seat of what I assumed was the nursery, with Bonenasher curled up next to him. My question of where the dog had been since we'd got to the Paleis had been answered within moments of my entering the room. He'd come bounding up to me; tongue hanging out and goofy smile already in place before he'd even reached me. I'd bent down to stroke him only to end up halting when the twins had come up to me.

"I give you minus ten for your choice of clothes," the Princess said, rubbing her chin thoughtfully as she looked at me.

Her twin nodded, nose still scrunched, "I give her minus twenty for her smell."

I rubbed my forehead, already wanting out of the room and I'd only been in it for all of ten minutes.

The twins were, as expected, completely identical apart from their hair and clothes. Princess Kala wore a pink, frothy dress filled with lace, ribbons and silk. Her hair was made up of pale green ringlets that reached her lower back, literally dotted with small dark green ribbons. I don't know how she could talk about 'fashion sense' when her clothes clashed so horribly with her hair.

Prince Kulin, on the other hand, had curly hair of the same colour, cut short to his collar. He wore a white suit, like one a navy soldier would wear, with gold engraved buttons. His back was impossibly straight and he even had a sword in a sheath at his side. Why anyone would trust a sword to a...what? Eight-year-old boy was beyond me.

"I give her another minus five for daydreaming," Kala said, walking away from me to kneel beside her dollhouse. Oh God...not the dolls...anything but the...

"Well?" She said imposingly, turning to me with a raised eyebrow. Flashbacks of Ayako started to invade my mind. "Are you going to entertain us or just stand there gawking?" She turned to Kenis here, humming deep in her throat. "I'm afraid you might not like this one Brother. She doesn't seem particularly bright."

"Excuse me?!" I squawked. The little brat was just like her brother! I could see the family resemblance like anything. It was uncanny. "I'm not an idiot!"

The girl raised the other eyebrow. "Oh? Then you should be able to comprehend what I mean by 'sit down here and amuse me'."

I frowned, stalked over to her and, still standing, pointed at her accusingly. She stared at my finger for a moment, a flash of astonishment crossing her eyes before it was gone and she scowled. "Look, you, I don't know what the others did before me but I'm not just going to bend down to your orders."

"Minus ten for spine." Wait...I thought spine was a good thing?

I twitched; already this evening was turning out to be a disaster and I could tell it was only going to get worse the longer it went on for. Damn, damn and damn.

I think I should have got points for sheer will power and courage. As the evening went on I lost count on how many points I was losing.

"Minus two points for slouching."

"Minus five for holding Sheila too tightly." Sheila was, as I found out, a doll. A lovely China doll with a painted face that I accidentally broke. I got minus thirty for that.

"Minus ten for ignoring me!" This was Kulin who grabbed my attention away for fifteen minutes for Kala grabbed me back again. They then had a tug of war with me as the prize, stretching my arms to an impossible width before letting me go. I got a minus three for poor balance because I fell back. I then lost another twenty when I broke Kulin's brick tower by falling on top of it.

I soon gave up on trying to please them and just tried to accept the fact that this would end up in my being thrown out the Paleis. At least I'd finally be able to go home.

It was two hours later that I realised Kenis had disappeared, along with Bonenasher. The twins didn't take notice of his absence, carrying on without him. I got the feeling that they weren't as close to their older brother as they were with each other. It was kind of sad, Kenis obviously felt left out. What with not being able to be near his older brother as well…I could see how he would close himself off.

It almost made me glad I was an only child.

"Hey! You're daydreaming again. Don't you ever pay attention?" Kala finally demanded when she noticed I wasn't paying attention to her.

I frowned, gritting my teeth. For a moment I actually wanted to just yell at the brat but then I took a deep breath and instead asked something else, "Aren't you worried?"

Kala blinked, seeming confused, "About what?"

"Your brother," I said. How the hell could she just forget about him? What kind of sister was she?

Kulin popped in then, leaning over his sister's shoulder and giving me a condescending look. "Aw, the poor Candidate is scared. What, do you think losing one of us will get you thrown out? I guess that would be bad for you, huh?"

I bristled, about to reply when Kala interrupted, cutting across me with a...rather sly smile. I didn't even know little girls in frilly pink dresses could actually be sly. It should be against the rules...

"I'll make a deal with you. If you find him and bring him back all three of us will name you our favourite. How does that sound Candidate?" She said it like a swear word...or something else particularly nasty.

I frowned, taking my time to reply. After all, the Paleis was huge. How was I supposed to find one lone boy? Especially when he'd been here his whole life and I'd only been here a while...It would be impossible.

I had just opened my mouth when Kala seemed to catch onto my trail of thought and lifted an eyebrow, "What...are you scared Candidate? Hm? Afraid you can't do it?"

I'm sure no one would mind if I just smothered the brat with a pillow. I mean, I'd be doing everyone a favour really...

"Fine! I'll do it!"

Kulin cheered before giving a large grin and shoving me out the room. "You've got an hour! Better hurry Candidate girl!" I'd have to get an extra big pillow so I could off the both of them at the same time...

With stiff shoulders and an even stiffer walk I started off, ignoring the Guards on either side whom looked at me curiously. That answered my question on whether they had done this to the other Candidates before me. It also made it obvious that they hated only me enough to send me on a wild goose chase.

Well...I'd show them! I could do this! Ah...maybe...

To be continued!

::laughs:: To be continued indeed XD;