Author's Note: I hope someone is reading this, and leave reviews. I need beta reader, please. This is a novel-like fiction, so expect long chapters.

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A Present

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"Young Lady!"

Housekeepers' unnerving shouts intrude the peaceful manor house. And then she heard the galloping of horses. Footsteps were racing towards the main door. Clattering sounds were heard downstairs, a butler on command, maids were running towards the main entrance and the clacking of cutleries were perceive from the kitchen, chefs preparing exquisite confectionaries to serve. It was one of the busiest days inside the Mortfield's Manor. And one of those days that mixed her emotions.

She had two options as to why she was being called out of the blue. One: her perfectionist yet forlorn mother has arrived without making a call she'd come. Two: her workaholic and aristocrat father miraculously dropped a visit in his own manor. Aside from that she'd have no idea who else and what else it could be.

If it was her father, then she would lock herself inside her spacious room and pretend she was asleep, until such time her humble father would decide to leave, the aristocrat not wanting to wake her up and disturb his daughter's peaceful sleep.

If it was her mother, then she would hide inside the wardrobe and would decide to come out only—if and only if—her uncle pleads him to.

Of course she wanted to see her father, and she's been longing with her mother—who's child would not want it anyway—but her fear to face them in accordance to their unfathomable expectations hinders her.

"The Young lady is not opening the door, Young Master." She heard one of her personal maids said behind the door.

"Give me the key." demand the man the holder of the name Young Master. The servant handed him the house keys with her trembling hands, undoubtedly nervous about the unexpected arrival of the Count's wife.

"The Countess wants to see her badly this day. Seems very important Young Master." One of the maids added.

She flinched upon confirming it. The cause of commotion was her mother and it certainly was rare she did not make a call or letter prior she arrived. She hurried and went to open her wardrobe and fretfully pushed herself in inside the dark closet. She was always anxious to face her mother, partly because the Countess was not always present on her side, and partly because her mother was never been close to her.

She wanted to see her, hoping someday the Countess would hug her, and she wanted to see her mother's smile, however, the Countess never smiles. As a child, she wants to have a normal mother-daughter relationship but it was never like that every time her mother would come to see her. And she ought to prefer locking herself to somewhere else than to disappoint her mother's high standards of 'these and that' behaviors.

The Countess wants perfections, honor and nobility, she's very keen and meticulous to reputation and pride, she has an excessive noble priority and doesn't want any imperfections. The Countess on the other hand, has a bad perspective on proletariats, she doesn't trust people on lower classes and assumes they are a threat, a faulty influence to her children. She ought to believe that that type of plebs are aiming for one thing, money. Influences.

Her father was another issue. He's a European aristocrat, a Count and a busy business man in London. Like her mother, the Count occasionally visits her at their manor, the only difference though is that she's closer to him. The aristocrat was never been a hater to commoners, he treats everyone fairly yet not in status of life, but in terms as of a human equal. And also her father, who was not always on her side, did not once scold her.

He was humble and so kind that it would only cause her so much pain every time she'd see him but then leave just right after arriving.

"It was the miserable fate of a noble's daughter." She heard her English tutor said it before.

The only person that is closest to her heart is her uncle, the one who can truly understand her. Her uncle is beyond loving, he can read—like he's some sort of telepathist, mind reader or whatsoever—her mind at to any circumstances, and to be more precise, her uncle is more like a father to her.

Her name was famous in their place, and all over the places of Wales and London. But it wasn't her name that made her famous and elegant, it was the family's noble name—Mortfield. Add the fact her mother was an Ashkelon.

She heard the knob clicked and she knew what would happen next. For a five-years-old lady such as her, it was not a doubt how her slender and small figure would fit in inside the wardrobe. She covered herself with all of the hanged clothes inside, hoping it would keep her body invincible, however it caused otherwise instead. Her heart was pumping fast as she heard his footsteps that stopped right in front of her wardrobe.

"Lil' Miss Hime, I know you are there." He said. "Do you want me to open it for you, or shall you voluntarily open it for me?"

She knew her uncle was aware of that she couldn't refuse him to anything he was pleading. Only her uncle could please her in any case, besides, she can't really oppose him for some strange reason, so she peevishly surrendered and came out. "Uncle Stephan." She said in tears.

"Come here, Hime. Your mother wants to see you." Her young uncle, Stephan, widened his arms to embrace the child. "Nah, what are the tears for Lil' Hime? Tears of joy?"

"I strangely cannot distinguish, uncle. I want to see her and you know that, right uncle? But I'm scared. I'm mad." She burst, and her uncle wiped the droplets of tears on her pinkish cheeks.

"You're just odd, that's all." Her uncle philosophized. "But you're the prettiest odd princess, of all time." He added as a compliment. "She's already downstairs. Would you mind to, Hime?"

"B-but she was always here to scold me. If not, she would forbid Hime going out and it's terrible. She was always like that. Why would I see her if that's the case?" She grumbled.

"She does?" her uncle mystified. "Well, it's merely natural, she's your mother after all." He curled an arm on her shoulders.

"She's scary sometimes. Why does she have to scorn all the time? She wears a very displeasing face, but it's not fair at all because she's still astoundingly beautiful." She curled her dolly bangs with fingers, blue eyes staring at him willfully.

"Ah, of course she is. You just have to ignore her pushy attitude, she simply doesn't want people to think she's weak."

"I don't think so." She pauses, "I think she doesn't have any weakness."

"Yes, she has. Your mother is a lovely woman, Hime. She was kind and very lovable but she was hideous to admit it." Her uncle confessed, and then he elicited a small laugh, "Your mother was very pretentious in some ways."

She pouted as her uncle grabbed her hands. "You are always protecting her."

"I am? Never thought that I was." Stephan shrugged his shoulders.

"Yes, you are." She insisted as they walked through the door. The maids lined up and bowed as they pass, one maid cheerfully expressed her relief,

"We don't know what to do without you here, Young Master. Only you could please the Young Lady."

The maids drew back when Hime glared daggers at them, especially when she directed her eyes to the maid who last spoke. They all bowed in apology for the interference.

"I shall need not to dress up, right Uncle Stephan?" she lowered down to inspect her shimmering dress. "Of course, you look good. Just like your uncle." Stephan seconded, smirking.

They passed through many doors, and when Hime could spot the staircase down to the main floor, she tensely stood behind her uncle's back and gripped his suit tightly.

"How long was it since she last saw her mother?" some curious maids wondered occasionally.

"Too long I merely forgot." Answered another.

It's been a year since Hime last saw her mother, if she hasn't any pictures of her, then there was no doubt if she'll come to forget what the Countess actually look alike.

Rumors said her mother despised her.

But in the outskirts of Wales and London, rumors were told to be that the Countess was just a very busy woman. In Skenfrith, the birthplace of all Ashkelons, others hypothesized that Hime was her mother's daughter in another man, thus the reason as to why the Countess was so distant towards her. And the main root why her father rarely visits her.

But there were no such rumors that were proved to be true. They were just one of those gossips from those bored commoners who did nothing but make stupid stories out of the noble's family.

When they stepped down on the long stairs, Hime felt that her heart was lost somewhere in that inexplicable prison she called, Abyss at Wonderland.

Her mother was there, Countess Melia Rinette Ashkelon Mortfield, wife of a European aristocrat—Count Gilbert Mortfield. She was the only daughter from a known British noble family, and she was the older sister of young Earl Stephan Ashkelon—the current master of the Ashkelon Manor, Earl of Skenfrith, Wales.

Her legs were crossed modestly as she sat on the lounger, her face was relaxed as always, and her azure eyes were as cold as ice. She was lovely and beautiful, astoundingly gorgeous, and her golden hair was wavy down to her waist. She was like a French Doll, and Hime her daughter, was the miniature version of her. No one could actually notice that she was already married. However, she's the type of a noble who showed no lucid emotions at all, as she was always been. When the Countess noticed her younger brother's unexpected presence, she oddly felt uncomfortable.

"Ah, what a bright day. Who would have thought I would see you here during my visit?" her uncle Stephan started with a broad smile. "You are lovelier each day, Oneesan." And he gave a strange emphasis on his last word which made the Countess wore a sour face.

"You didn't say you were visiting. Whatnot, I'm here to see my daughter, although I'm glad I've caught you here, as well." The lovely Countess said, changing her looks to her younger brother to her daughter, who, on the contrary was timidly standing beside her uncle. Her eyes were filled with hesitations.

"Come, my daughter." And it was the first time that Hime's mother said it with a smile. But Hime knew very well, that smile was not for her. It was for her uncle.

"Welcome home, mother." Hime spoke and she almost bit her tongue. She gave a wary look towards her uncle before she sat next beside the Countess. "I'm happy to see you."

"So am I. Are you doing well?" Countess Mortfield asked.

"Yes." And that was the only answer Hime could only response, how could she ever tell her 'no'?

'Hime Mortfield was never been an answerer of no.' her uncle, Stephan, thought at that time.

"Very well. I'm here to settle your birthday this coming week. And I brought you a present that I know you would certainly like than anything else. You have everything you wanted, thus, this must be the time I shall present you something uncommon. " The beautiful Countess said, but there was never a delight seen on her eyes. As she was always been.

"A unique present? Wow, heard it my Lil' Hime?" her uncle exclaimed. And it appeared to be that he was more excited for the present than Hime herself. The young earl took a seat right in front of the young lady.

There was a wide smile on Hime's face for that instance and her uncle, Stephan, was the first to notice it. She was really grateful and excited for the present her mother was going to give her. But she was more glad the fact her mother could still remember her birthdays. The young lady thought that she would again celebrate her sixth birthday alone with her uncle.

"And Stephan, since you are here, there is something I want to talk with you, but later." Her voice was chilly.

"Sounds intriguing." Stephan said. His face was perplexed.

There was a silence went by, and Hime as a child, cannot intervene to adult's conversation. Though she wanted to know what was her mother was talking about.

"Come in now, Cain." Her mother spoke to break the eerie silence that hastily went by. And Hime, as well as her uncle, were astonished as they turned their gazes at the new figure stood at the main door.

A kid was standing firmly at the entrance, his both hands on his sides, and a pair of clear-blue orbs was staring blankly at Hime. And it was the very first in her history that Hime has met a person—rather than the Countess—who possess such cold, emotionless eyes. She thought it was her mother alone.

Her chestnut hair shimmered long down to her shoulders, it was long and straight. It was something that has not been felt before, but Hime, right at that moment felt envious at her. Hime Mortfield always wanted to have her hair utterly straight.

"She is flickering." Hime uttered in a very low voice. Hime Mortfield assumed that the kid was ten years of age. Five years older than her.

"I bet she is not." Her uncle opposed. His brows rose up as he rolled his eyes to his sister, "Who is he, Countess?"

He. Her uncle said 'he' and it was enough for Hime Mortfield to realize that the kid was not a girl, but a boy. Her uncle was a very keen observant at all times.

"Come here and introduce yourself, Cain." Her mother said and gestured towards Hime, "By the way, this is my daughter as you can see. Your owner. And I assume that you know about my brother, for he is an Ashkelon earl." She said it with proud.

"Please to meet you, Lady Himeliariz Mortfield," his eyes are not saying that he does so, he turns to the earl, "Please to meet you, Earl Ashkelon." The boy started while placing his right hand on his chest, and then, he bowed politely. Hime and her uncle both exchanged their looks towards each other.

"I am Cain Castor Lackland."

The young lady widened her eyes to her great surprise. It wasn't only his eyes that were cold, but his voice, too. She even wondered if the boy has some sort of emotions.

"I thought she was a girl." Hime said while staring at the kid, not considering if the guest heard her, "Well, he looks like one." It was Hime's first impression at the new kid and the first day Cain wore a sour face. At least, for Hime's perspective, the boy has indeed emotions when provoked.

"Well, what's with him?" her uncle asked while crossing his arms, his dubious eyes scrutinizing the boy from head to toe, trying to put a judge out of the boy's appearance. He wore a cloak so he can hardly imagine how he dresses, thus he can't distinguish if he's son of a noble.

"Cain was the present I was talking about." The Countess answered.

"What!?" her shocked Uncle Stephan got up on his feet. He was completely outraged that he had slammed the table, unconsciously, situated in front of him.

Hime was speechless. Her tutors didn't teach her how to react properly on a situation like this.

"You heard it right. Cain is my present for my daughter." Her mother confirmed, her cold eyes locked to a shock Stephan.

"Excuse me, but, what do you mean about this, Countess? I certainly need an explanation." Stephan, at that time, gave his older sister a hard look. And that was the first time Hime Mortfield saw her uncle that way. It was a good thing that they were no other witnesses at that time, otherwise, it would only cause another stupid rumor around Wales.

However, no one would believe either that Stephan had raised his voice toward his beloved sister.

"I can't allow my daughter, any longer, to roam around outside the manor without any trusted companion. And starting this day, I can't allow her to befriend any of those filthy commoners. They are all but a bad influence to her." Hime's mother retorted.

"Sister! Are you saying you are to imprison my niece inside this isolated manor? Certainly I cannot allow." Her uncle protested in a higher tone.

"Did I ever say I'd to imprison her? I'm her mother, perhaps you forgot?" she said and the earl went silent for a while, "What I wanted Stephan, is to make sure my daughter is in good hands." Her mother explained. "I trust Cain."

"That's not my point." He fisted, "It's like you are forbidding her to have many friends,"

"That's my motive in fact."

"Obnoxious!" he hissed, however, he couldn't fathom his own voice.

She looked back at Hime and said, "Hime, listen to me. I'll give you Cain and befriends only with him. From now on, Cain's is your everything."

Hime. In the eleventh day on the month of November, Hime's mother for the very first time spoke her name. And it was the nicest word from her mother that she has to remember for the rest of her life.

"I understand, mother." Hime answered with a broad smile, the first purely hearted one she had gave to the Countess, at last her mother finally said her first name.

"I refused." Her uncle fisted his hand. It shocked the Countess and Hime herself, and Stephan couldn't even imagine he was saying it. "Hime is a child. I can't let you forbid her to have friends, what's wrong with you?"

"Outside world, uneducated people, low class society, there are all but a waste of her time."

"I can't imagine how you become so austere, Countess. You discriminate your own people. It disappoints me." he said with a sour tone.

"This is the first time you opposes me, I shall not be glad."

"Because you don't have to go this far!"

"And now you are shouting at me, how ridiculous." The Countess tried to make her tone just natural. Hime was almost teary on the other side, she can't believe her mother and her uncle were quarrelling. What's gotten to her Uncle, anyway?

Stephan was stupefied, now aware of his blatant behavior, "Pardon my behavior, Countess. I should have not yelled at you."

"You need to understand Stephan that my daughter's health is not as healthy as yours. Besides, her life is unsafe outside the manor. I need someone to look after her, as you can see, I am a very busy woman."

"I am now well aware of that, and I never thought Hime's life here was more likely a prisoner. If you can't look after her then I will take her." Stephan said earnestly.

"Uncle!" Hime punctuated.

"You are joking. My daughter will just ruin your schedules." The Countess tilted her head at right, and Hime went silent for her mother was right. She was always been a trouble to anyone, and she was a hassle even to her own mother. If she was not, then why her parents would left her being isolated inside the manor? She was stuck with a butler, maids, and other household servants.

"Do you know what's bothering my mind, Countess Mortfield?" her uncle took a deep breath; it was the very first time he had to oppose her beloved sister, and he can't imagine he has to oppose her, "That you entrusted your daughter's life to a complete stranger."

"I can assure you that Cain's not a stranger, Stephan." The Countess replied.

"So you say," he capitulated, "but I will take Hime with me." he added with finality.

"Fine." The Countess succumbed. "You can take her with you. But take Cain along with her." She said but she was not looking at him, and there was a tremor on her voice that Hime couldn't fathom why.

The young earl was stunned. Though he wanted it, and even so, he didn't anticipate that his Countess sister would let him take Hime. After all those years. But gladly, he can free Hime's prison-like life here in Mortfields.

In that desolate parlour concealed oddly with a great despair, it was Hime Mortfield who was more alarmed, upset at the same time. And the new boy whose appearance was absolutely mysterious, named Cain, remained speechless as long as he could.

***

"Y' know Uncle Stephan, it shocked me when you answered back the Countess." Hime started, combing her hair as she sat on the bed, a maid was tying her shoelaces.

"Well, I guess I have some sort of uprising sides, too." Her uncle stood at the doorpost, his arms crossed, a false smile on his lips.

"I feel guilty about it, it's the first time you opposed her."

"Don't worry, we'll be fine anyway." He reassured, "So then, I'll take you to Ashkelon after your birthday, is it okay?"

"I would love to, Uncle Stephan." she exclaimed but in a sudden she gloomed. "But the Countess was it really okay with her? I never thought she would send me away. And my father, what would he say about it?"

"The Countess can't look after you, sometimes I tell her she's too dedicated to her work—that she needs space and time for her family, but she keep ignoring me. Count Gir was a busy man even before he married your mother, so I expect it from him, but believe me Hime, they both love you. You just have to accept it Hime, this is how a noble's life is." her uncle said, the last part his voice seemed disconsolate.

"You're right, uncle." She comprehends. "My butler's the one who seemed to become my guardian."

"Well, it's different now. I prefer taking you, adopt you perchance, than knowing you're staying here with no one but butler and maids. I just can't bear it."

"But I may trouble you," Hime stared worriedly at him, the maid finished her shoes and took a bow before she left the room.

"That? Since when you become a trouble-maker?" her uncle asked, a bit of teasing and the girl wore a bitter face, "Haha, just kidding. You don't have to take your mother's words seriously, besides that, I'm a busy man but I never take long stays elsewhere. Most of my time I spend it at my manor, so rest assured you'll not be bored."

"That's why I love you most, Uncle Stephan!" Hime exclaimed and ran off towards her uncle and pushed herself onto his arms.

"Yeah, I know." He welcomed her.

Hime held her sixth birthday at the Mortfield's Manor house, and even though she has to leave the place after the occasion, she still felt happy—partly because the Count and the Countess were both present. Only few people did come, those who were only close to the family and some distant relatives. Her Uncle Stephan was there and of course, who could have forget the new boy—Cain.

"The Countess had had enough on her, that's why she gave her own daughter to her brother's care. I wonder how the Count would react. I really pitied that child." One of her tutors commented after that incident.

Subsequently, her uncle, Earl Stephan Ashkelon fired all Hime's private tutors after the rumor had widely spread.

It has been five months since the young Mortfield moved to her Uncle's manor house, a one day trip from the Mortfields—a carriage as the only transportation for a place such as Skenfrith. It was then Hime Mortfield's life started to change, little by little. Her uncle though was busy on his own earl tasks and businesses, he always make sure that he can have a time for his niece, and he promised her a different colorful side of life.

The Countess, on the other side of the world, never misses to send her daughter letters, gifts and other souvenirs and sometimes a letter of apology that she can't happen to drop a visit. Her mother, however, promised that after a year she will have to take her back to Mortfields, especially when the Count was upset after knowing Hime was sent away.

And about Cain, he was taken along with Hime and Stephan, though he dislike the child, had no choice but allow him tailing Hime wherever she goes.

"She hated me. Right, Uncle Stephan?" it was the question that bothered her for five months, and now she was able to gain all of her courage and asked her uncle.

Not in an appropriate time, though.

"Who?" his one brow went up, unable to determine who the person Hime was talking about. They were on his office and Stephan was actually pretty-busy on his desk, he was having his analysis and review for his current earl task.

"The Countess." She answered in a very, low voice, and a tint of agony flashed on her blue eyes. The earl halt from scanning the pile of documents, he was stunned as he faced his niece who was sitting in front of his desk.

"A mother couldn't hate her child." Her uncle said, his chin now resting on his hands.

"But she does. If she doesn't hate me then she wouldn't give me away." Hime insisted and Stephan sighed. He got up on his feet and stood before Hime, caressing her golden hair.

"Your mother loves you, Hime. She's just too busy that she couldn't look after you." He comforted, a hasty flash of sadness went through his blue eyes, "But perhaps…Don't you like here with me?" there was a pain on the earl's voice.

"No, in fact, I love staying here Uncle Stephan! There are lots of animals and green fields which I and Cain could play with. There are so many children along the way and I even befriend one of them. Her name was—Marta! Yes, Marta and I are friends too! At Mortfields, do you know, I'm not allowed to play as I wish. Whole day long I was locked inside to do my tutorials. It was really so sad to live alone inside that manor. It was only lively when you come and visit me." It was the first time his little Hime talked too much, and Stephan was amazed and at the same time, glad.

"I'm glad to hear that." Her uncle smiled.

"B-but still, it wasn't enough. I feel incomplete, uncle." Hime said with finality. Her eyes were filled of sadness mixed with confusions.

"I see," her uncle bent his right knee to match Hime's height and took her in his arms, he hugged her with mere serenity and his voice was tender and pure with love as he whispered, "Allow me to fill up your incompleteness, Himeliariz."

In that moment there was a strange emotion that flashed Hime's heart. A funny and stupid thoughts whirling inside her mind, and she noticed, the feeling of how comfortable her uncle's hug was. She thought that she would be happier if her uncle Stephan was her…father.

How she wish she could change her fate and become her uncle's daughter, funny but, it's alright to dream often times, right? Hime admitted that, and as a matter of fact, her own father didn't embrace her the way her uncle Stephan did at that moment. No one had embraced her like that. Not even her parents. If only her father and mother were a loving parents, then she would not wish stupidly like this, it can't be help though, for she was never been close to them.

And then there was a knock on the door.

"Come in." Stephan permitted as he parted the embrace and fixed their selves. The door opened and ejected Cain, standing with a hand on his chest, "Pardon my intrusion, Young Master. But I need to talk to Hime."

One of the things Stephan hate about Cain was that how he addresses his niece, he impolitely calls her in her first name, and though he had warned him many times to watch his mouth Cain still has guts to answer him, "I am Hime's friend."

"Speak it," the earl sat back to his chair.

"Something personal, I'm afraid." Cain retorted, turning his gaze to a confuse Hime.

The earl glared at the strange, impassive boy, and then he sighed. He really dislikes the child but he couldn't get rid of him, especially when he was the Countess' pet, puppet perhaps. Cain looks decent, yes, and his loyalty-priority, composed behavior is carefully played and has displayed its tranquility, luring everyone. Not him, he won't buy it. The Countess trusted the boy but without having his personal background check, he's afraid he can't trust Cain.

"Well, go on Hime." He cited his approval, mumbling something to himself as he get busied his hands back to piling of the documents and papers. The young Mortfield nodded as she smiled, hopping off from the seat and humming cheerfully as she hurried towards the door, Cain's waiting.

"Excuse us now, Young Master." He politely bowed.

"Are we going to play, Cain?" she said as Cain guided her out of the earl's office.

"I believe I clearly mention earlier, I have something to tell. Did I mention playing?" Cain said sarcastically, his brow almost went up.

"No, you didn't say it clearly. There are many ideas I can premise about your 'I need to talk' words." She retorted.

"I might say your intelligence quotient is not quite good enough to comprehend my standards of discourses."

"You're so mean Cain. You're the only one who speaks to me that way, we're supposed to be friends." Hime pursed her lips and Cain halted his pace, "We are, of course."

"Cain, perhaps you shall learn smiling, don't you think?" the young lady commented, "Anyway, what was it you want to tell?" her eyes were filled with curiosity in a sudden.

Cain grabbed her hand and pulled her almost forcibly, "Follow me." he said as he ran off towards the main entrance, pulling Hime who panted subsequently, "I'm not following you, you're pulling me you know that?"

They both breathe laboriously as they exited the manor house, Cain still holding Hime's hand. The chestnuthead took a final breathe and turned his head left to right, making sure no one's near or around and turned back at Hime when he made sure they're safe from anyone.

"S-seriously, why do we need to run like that?" the lady panted, eyes pleading explanations from Cain.

"I just want to. Moreover, look at this. Marta gave this to me to hand over you," Cain said, handing Hime a piece of folded paper, almost tattered. "What's this?" she asked innocently.

"A letter of course!" he shrieked.

"Oh," Her eyes widen, and she felt something about the letter that would bring something not, uh, particularly not good. She opened it and read silently.

Hime,

I really had fun playing with you, and it was a great day yesterday, right?

Though I felt bad because Cain wasn't with us, but somehow I felt glad, too.

It's because Cain was so nag! Hahaha!

Was he really your brother? Ah, anyway, I and Jim are going to the

grassland this afternoon at two, will you come? I hope you won't bring Cain,

Jim doesn't like him.

Marta.

Hime elicited a forced smile after she had read it, "Oh, Marta says she likes me. Ahaha." When Cain's face went sharp, she curved her lips. "What?"

"How will you explain it to me, huh Hime?" Cain said irksomely, grabbing back the letter from Hime's flimsy hands.

"Explain what? And hey, that's my letter!" she hissed.

"Don't play so innocent. You went to Marta's without me! Yesterday she said huh, I was in town yesterday and you sneak around, and who's that—Jim? That bastard." Cain fisted his right hand, indicating he's ready to fight at any minute.

"H-how did you know?" Hime almost staggered. Then her eyes freak out, "Don't tell me you read my letter!"

"It's my responsibility." His tone was calm.

"You call that responsibility? That's illicit!" Hime screeched.

"If there's anyone here who shall be mad, it's me." his eyes went frightfully mad, making Hime stunned for a bit, "You shouldn't go to anywhere else, especially outside the manor or worse is in town without me. The Countess herself has so many spies, you don't know."

"But Marta is my friend,"

"Of course she is," he mocked sluggishly, rolling his eyes, "If the Countess will know about this, you're ruined. I've been nice to you, and in fact, you owe me many times. I didn't tell the Countess that I actually allowed you befriending those lowly commoners; instead, I always end up covering you. And now you are starting to rebel against me, too?"

"But Cain you're so busy yesterday, I wanted to play and Marta invited me. Besides, Uncle Stephan permitted me as long as I don't go far." She explained.

"The Earl isn't my master, the Countess is. Whatever decisions he had for you it is absolutely different from those of your mother's orders." He reminded.

"Okay, look I'm sorry, but Marta and Jim are nice. They're nice to me." she informed, and then she sighed. Even though she wasn't at Mortfield's manor anymore, still, she felt like being spied on wherever she goes, add the fact Cain's with her all the time. She gained new friends, friends that she never had before, and she should be thankful that Cain—though his work was to ensure Hime mustn't friend anyone from ordinary people, and to make certain she would behave properly as a noble—disregards the Countess orders and allowed Hime to play as long as she wants. Cain ends up covering the lady's mischief. Cain has indeed limits, though.

"Do you want to know a simple fact, about your Marta and Jim, Hime?" his brows went up. "They're just being nice to you because you're a noble, but in fact, they dislike someone like you."

"You don't have to discourage me!" her tone was high.

"I wasn't. Let me clear some things Hime, I only allowed you to roam around the town and play to places you shouldn't had, only because I am there with you. But what are you doing? You sneaked and played somewhere I don't know behind my back. If the Countess will know this she'll not only cut my head, but she'll rip my throat before throwing me into the deepest river, and if that happens I'll hunt you in your dreams."

"You're exaggerating, yeah, but that's gross." She wore a disgusted face, she wasn't alarmed by his threats anyway, "It's your fault in the first place, you are with me but you aren't playing games with me, you are just there—standing and watching, and most of the time you don't talk at all. You even have these weird, blank stares, and even though you're there your mind seemed floating somewhere. Sometimes you scared my friends, shoving them away. Seriously, what are you, a puppet?"

"Perhaps." He answered in an insulted tone, but his face became suddenly serious, "But rest assured Lady Himeliariz, I'm the Countess' puppet designed only to protect you."

Hime was stunned. His words somehow caught her, but she knew very well, it was Cain's task in the first place, to become her only friend—obeying Countess' orders. To protect her in a stupid way. She faked a smile, "Ahaha, of course. You're my everything, remember?" There was a pain on her blue eyes, and Cain didn't miss to notice it.

"Perhaps you shall practise more to perfect your smile," Cain said,

"At least I do smile unlike you." she retorted, just then they were startled when the butler, Sebastian, standing now meters away, called Hime.

"Young Lady!" Sebastian started, "My Lord has called you."

She just smiled, "Okay." She turned her gaze back to Cain and shrugged her shoulders, and before she'd take a second step, "Hime," Cain called her in a low tone, careful so that the butler won't hear. Hime didn't look back, she knew she don't have to, Cain spoke up again before she could do it anyway.

"Don't forget that I warned you already, Marta and Jim, don't get so hook-up with them." His tone was low. Hime heard him, he knew, but the lady didn't react nor answer.

***

"Do you know, this is my first time laying on a grassland." She confessed, her eyes full of amazement were staring at the blue sky."And the very first time I'd seen the sky this close. It's beautiful."

"Ask by who?" Cain answered lazily, he was lying on the grass right next to Hime, and his hands were on the back of his head, pillowing it.

"Don't be so uncool to me, Cain." Hime pouted.

"Seriously, I don't know what you're saying." He retorted and the silence went by.

"Hey, thank you Cain."

"Why?"

"Because you'd let me come here although the Countess might get mad."

"I don't know why I did, perhaps you'd casted a spell on me."

"Whatever, but thanks. I just realised, I love the sky. It resembles Uncle Stephan's eyes, mother and father, it's like they're staring back at me."

"Really," he says. They remained silent for a while, only feeling the nostalgic ambience. Just then, they heard some loud shouts and laughing on the other side and when Hime stood to look up, she saw two kids playing with balls.

"Can we go there, Cain?" she asked and before Cain could response she dragged him already, "Let's go, come on." Cain did just sigh.

"Can we join?" Hime asked timidly, her hands on her back. Her golden hair was shining reflected by the sun's brightness, rhythmically swaying with the wind under the vivid blue sky, her blue eyes shimmering with excitement.

The two kids were astonished by her gleaming appearance; they never had met someone like her who seemed a goddess descending from heaven. One was a girl, apparently a year older than Hime, and the other was a boy of about a year older than Cain, both were astounded, mouth hang-opened.

"Of course! We wouldn't mind." They both exclaimed, the girl added as she extended her hand for a handshake, "I'm Marta."

"I'm Hime," she smiled and held her hands, she turned to her right and added, "This is Cain. I hope we can be friends."

"Hello Cain," Marta offered her hands, but Cain ignored and did just nod, Marta turned to her companion and continued to cover her embarrassment, "Uh, he's Jim, my cousin. And you are Hime's-"

"Brother! Cain's my brother." Hime interrupted, and Cain on the other side took a deep troubled sigh. Reasons why Hime introduced him in that way, Cain had have no idea.

'Brother, huh. Tsk.'

***