⇢ Innocence ⇠
"Princess, it's your World."
Red luscious roses bloomed with love from the sun, giving warmth to the atmosphere around. Different colours of flowers flourished their petals wide open. Lime green grasses blew along with the direction of the winds, and the tall trees stood still, nudging each other like they were alive. The burning sun sat above the skies, being surrounded by fluffy balls of clouds. Everywhere around the place was warm and sunny, blowing small, cold breezes to the areas. Around the garden of flowers, trees, and bushes, a long table held in a steady position in the centre of the garden. A table that had a white table cloth that was long enough to fit the whole table in one, as well as the cloth reaching thirty centimetres off the ground. Although the cloth was white, it seemed as though it hadn't been used before. – Or at least everything was brand new. On the table, it had different cups, spoons, forks, knives, plates, and other cutlery sets on the table, all in different sizes fit for each of everyone's characteristics. The scent of the foods gave a sweet and attractive fragrance that would make your mouth drool from the delicious meals. – Cakes, cupcakes, lollies, chocolate, you name it. Silver solid chairs carved with different shapes on it, surrounded the table. The cushion that attached itself onto the chair was designed for rich guests to sit on the chair comfortably. Chairs that almost looks antique and rich. From the looks of it, it seemed like it was a party. – A party that involved me in it.
"I'm guessing this is supposed to be my birthday." I said to myself, looking around at the decorations.
"I'm impressed." I said once more, touching the crimson red roses with my own bare hands. I wasn't a type that showed my affection to the things I like, so I tend to make an impression that I never cared. Though, that was mostly how I always show that I liked things that much. I looked around the room in the square.
"Heh, they even went through the trouble to get some flowers that were blue; even though it's not even spring. How nice of everyone to do this for me." I smiled at the flowers while touching the soft buds of the petal. There was laughter coming from somewhere. Laughter and chatters amongst them. I gasped. I held my breath still, making no sound. I let go of the flower, and ran to a nearest hideout that I could find. From faraway, I heard voices that sounded like people I didn't know. – Complete strangers in other words.
"Please do not go off on your own; after all, it is nearly the party our Master set, begin." I heard a man's voice scolded politely to someone, in a formal manner from a far distance. My hearing was fuzzy; all I heard was the voice of a man saying not to go off him or her, own.
"I need to hide. – Those laughter sounds nothing alike to the people I know." I whispered under my breath, keeping my words low so that no one could hear me. "If I recalled right, was this even the right place to begin with?" Laughter grew louder, heading towards the tall brown gate near a corner of the square.
Digging my hands onto the grass, I hid beneath the table. The gate's latch jingled as someone came in. The door creaked open, and the laughter stopped. They all went to the centre of the garden, getting ready to take their seats. I gasped once more, gazing at a person's foot wearing black shoes in front of me. The man's shoes were leather black, and his pants were pure white, covering his ankles. Staring blankly at the leather black shoes, I realized I was in trouble. "I can't believe those people almost caught me here. I don't want to start peoples' impression of me liking flowers. Nor do I want to start peoples' impression that I'm a complete stranger taking stuff for free!" I thought as sweat drops came down from the side of my temple. Some people were about to sit down. Others were probably talking and joking around. For me, it wasn't time to gaze around in space. I had to get out.
"Where am I…?" I whispered under my breath. I turned around, seeing that the place was clear to get out, but as I turned around, someone was sitting next to me, staring lightly at me like I was some perverted geezer. I let out a small yelp, while under the table, with someone's hand over my mouth, giving me a small hand signal to be quiet. "What the hell- Since when was he there?"
"Shh…" He gestured at me. I stared at him in shock. I didn't know what to do, so I kept quiet. He twisted and twirled his head left to right, right to left, checking whether if someone had heard us under the table or not. He finally let go of my mouth; he spoke first.
"Who are you?" He said. I was anxious of who he was. He had light blonde hair, and emerald green eyes. His messy blonde hair caught my eye. – He obviously looked rich and the type to be able to get girls to like him so quick. He wore a black vest with a white long sleeved shirt under it. His black trousers reached down to his black leather shoes, and seemed like he was my age.
"I would like to ask you the same question." I raised a brow at him.
"Don't joke around. I asked you first anyway. Oh, and just for the heads up, I honestly don't have time for fun and games right now. Right now, I'm in a middle of a situation where I have to get engaged to a girl I don't even know. So you either tell me your name, and what're you doing here or you don't tell me anything, and I'll leave you." He quickly said in a serious voice. I hesitated for a bit, and then gave up to his words. I needed a way out in the end.
"My name's Seiren. Seiren Yamamoto. I'm here because I have no idea why. But if it's one thing, I know this isn't where I should be." I answered gently, trying not to raise his mood even worse. I quickly spoke before he could say something. "And you are…?"
"Not exactly important, but I'll tell you later." He sighed in relief, avoiding my question, and pushing an excuse at me. From the looks of it, he seemed as though he was relief that I didn't know him. Or, that's what I thought.
"So how're we going to get out?" I gazed at him annoyed that he didn't tell me his name, but still grateful he'd be willing to help me.
"'We…?' Even though I said I don't have time for fun and games, why is it that you decide that 'we' are going to get out of here?" He raised a brow at me, like the time I had done it to him. I sighed at him and gave my response.
"Because, you said you'd leave me if I didn't tell you anything. Well, I told you my name, and I also told you why I'm here. In which, I told you I had no idea why I'm here. Actually, yeah; I don't know why I'm here, so that's why I'm hiding under the table. Truthfully, I don't want to start peoples' senses that I'm some freeloader, taking stuff for free at this, somewhat…? Rich party? Overall those things said, 'you', my friend, are going to help me get out of here." I said smart and proudly, nearly stressing about everything going on.
"Okay, calm down. Everything you said seems reasonable, I guess. Although, some of the things you just said didn't make sense. Just be lucky that you're pretty enough for me to help. But you are really ignorant."
"…" I gave no response to him. I just pouted at him and said nothing else. He saw my reaction to his reply.
"Like I said: I have no time for fun and games; got it?" He gazed at me once more, giving a serious look in his eyes telling me not to fool around anymore. I nodded my head in defeat.
"The faster I get out of here, the faster I can get my revenge."
"Revenge? What for?" He questioned me while avoiding my eye contact. He scanned around the room, searching for a clear spot to escape.
"Something. It's not like you would know. And besides, when I see them, I swear I'll torture them in return for my humiliation." I replied, clenching my fists together tightly.
"Wow. I'm shocked to see a girl become so violent. Who knew girls like you could end up as a man." He said in a calming expression, shrugging at the fact that he insulted a girl like me, for my actions.
"Firstly, I'm showing my true nature. And secondly, I really don't like you right now. And I'm not just saying that" I retorted.
"I know." He said with a smirk on his face. His face seemed calm and innocent, and yet, he was evil with his words at the same time. I closed my eyes and faced another direction, avoiding him beside me.
"You're weird, you know that? You may be good-looking, charming, and easy-to-fool girls, but deep down, you're a jerk at heart." When I turned around to face the blonde hair guy, he wasn't there. I turned to face the gate in a corner of the square, only to see that the gate was open.
"Ugh! That jerk!" I groaned at his actions for ditching a girl alone. – Not only that, he left me alone, making me talk to myself without knowing he went! Not realising the current situation that I was under the table, a man bobbed down to my level of height, after hearing my groans and complaints. He looked under the table and saw that my eyes were watery near the tip of the sides of my eyes.
"Are you okay? Do you need help?" The man gestured his hands, making sure that I understood everything he had said. That voice sounded familiar. A man's voice that sounded similar to the man that scolded someone from going off on him or her, own. He threw more worrying questions at me as I just sat there about to slide some tears off my eyes. I opened up my mouth, about to say something when someone's hand grabbed me by the arm on the opposite side of the table from the man gesturing at me. I turned to look up at the person who pulled me.
"You jerk!" I yelled out once more. The blonde haired person slipped his arm around my head to cover my unbearable noisy mouth. We bobbed down from behind the table, away from any adults, and let the man that was motioning his hand signals at me, make a confused look.
"Hush up already, before someone sees us." He lowered his voice for me to hear, as he pulled me towards the exit, while holding my mouth still. He held me close. I could hear him breathing heavily under his breath as we started running.
"We're in some kind of a party! How could they not see us?" I exaggerated a little, nearly yelling and throwing words at him for leaving me behind. It was like we were little kids sneaking out to seek adventure, and keeping our voice low for us awaiting no attention from any adults desiring to pinch our chubby cheeks. Though, if we were kids, I'd most likely be the annoying and a bothersome child, in his thoughts. – That's why I'm glad that we're not seven or younger.
There was no comment from him, even though he was practically pulling me towards the exit. His arms were wrapped around my head, covering my mouth still, as he dragged me there. His heavy breathing and his heart pounded loudly, as my head was nearly pushed against his chest. The blonde haired young man finally spoke, as I looked at him in shock.
"Whatever happens, just remember to run for the exit."
"But…" I wanted to rebut after what he said. I didn't understand anything or what he meant. I gazed up lightly at his dark emerald green eyes while he focussed his movements to run out through the exit of the party without being seen. His eyes changed showing determination to get out. I nodded my head and said nothing else.
"…Kei!" A girl's voice shouted, echoing inside my eardrums. I turned around, looking back from his shoulder. I couldn't see anything. – No one at all, that seemed like they had the voice of a little girl. Adults moved around, swaying in a slow movement like they were in a ball. I felt like awing the sweet moment in the air, but I was in a situation where I wasn't allowed to be seen. I turned my head away from the adorable moment happening, and ran alongside with the young man beside me. He has arms around my neck lightly almost saying, 'Don't turn back'.
"…Kei!" The girl's voice echoed in my head again, fading away from each distance I took. It was almost alike I was haunted by a sweet innocent girl. My heart pounded, panicking from the echoes of a sweet girl shouting out a name. I was beginning to feel paranoid from the sounds repeating over and over again. "Am I in hell? Did I do something wrong? What's happening?" I thought more and more, tearing myself apart bit by bit. A tear slipped off my eye. My head distracted me, making me feel uneasy with everything. My paranoia was only beginning.
"Ignore everything." The blonde hair and emerald green eyes man called to me. He looked down at me for a second, making sure I was alright, and then looked back up. Our eyes met for a very short time. Even though it was short, everything felt light. My head stopped throwing worrying matters at me. Everything faded slowly.
"Oh my; Kei Nakamura is taking one of our dear guests away." Kei stopped running, turning around to face a man with a smirk on his face. He clapped his hands slowly, making a small impression of a devil.
"My, my, taking a dear guest away from a tea party. That is considered as kidnapping." The man stopped clapping and stood in front of the person, by the name of Kei Nakamura. Kei slid his arms off my shoulder. He pulled me closely, and whispered in my ears softly.
"Run." Kei whispered gently in my ears, making no hesitation on what's going on. Kei pushed me behind his arm creating a small barrier for me. I didn't know what to do after that. Should I have stayed, or should I have started running. I couldn't move my feet. I felt like my legs were glued to the ground, feeling all numb and lifeless. Somehow, it felt like Kei was my knight and shiny armour, protecting me from harm, like we were in a romance Japanese comic.
"Oh? How rude of you, Kei. – Whispering in a young lady's ear and escaping away with her. And I thought we were cousins." People around stopped what they were doing, and began listening to their conversations. Everyone whispered to one and another, spreading questions and rumours around the place. It wasn't the fact that they didn't know Kei and the man opposite to Kei were cousins, but it was more alike rumours of Kei running away from a tea party, taking a young lady with him as well. "Kei…"
"Takumi Ozawa." Kei responded in a rather normal manner.
"Oh? So you do remember me. How nice of you. It's been quite a while, has it not, Kei?" Takumi curved his lips into a smirk. He replied formally as to how a modern rich family would speak to their members and to people around him.
"Indeed it has. Sadly, I cannot stay here any longer. I have somewhere I must attend to."
"Is it somewhere more important than this party, Kei?" Takumi raised his arm up, and swayed his hand showing the tea party behind him. Kei didn't say anything. He stood still, almost glaring his eyes at cousin. His eyes never looked deadly. In fact, it looked like he was staring at him naturally, rather than glaring. The girls in the background, behind Takumi, adored his features on his face. That wasn't any surprise to me.
"Join us, Kei. Your parents even went through the trouble to get you engaged, and you know that. They also held this party for you too, and yet, you wish to leave on this important day?" Takumi made a small pout at his cousin in front of him. He tried to persuade Kei Nakamura into staying and chat a little longer. A little awkward silence flowed gently, lasting less than five seconds between each other. Hoping Kei would answer anytime soon, I spoke breaking the small stillness between everyone. Kei seemed tense as I was behind him, so I had to say something sooner.
"Excuse me. Takumi Ozawa, is it? I'm sorry for the intrusion but I think I'm at the wrong place. Not to be rude or anything, but I wasn't invited here in the first place; and I'm not exactly sure why I'm here, so if you would pardon me; I would like to leave." I spoke in a polite behaviour towards Kei's cousin. Takumi stared at me, analyzing me like I wasn't familiar with what dimension we were all in. He kept looking straight at me with his curious light brown eyes.
"Oh yes. If you would pardon us, Takumi; we have something important I must take care of. And as for her…" Kei looked behind me then turned to the front again. "I will escort her back." Kei raised his right-arm and placed it near his heart. He bowed gently, showing his apology to his cousin. Takumi raised a brow at him, glancing at Kei and me. "I hope you will excuse this young lady's informal manner, my Lord."
"I see. If that is the case, then please do escort her back. The party will still be on when you get back. Remember this, Kei Nakamura. There is a ball coming up, so please do consider joining us." Takumi requested before sending us off. As we both left, everyone resumed what they were doing, and let the rumours slip. From that small talk between those two, I felt like something strange was going on.
"Hiroshi Ozaki; I have a favour to ask of you." He snapped his fingers lightly, as he watched us walk away from the elite party.
"What is it, Takumi?" Hiroshi questioned politely, as he walked up to Takumi dressed in black formal clothing.
"Please keep your eyes on her." Takumi answered in a rather calming expression, as his lips curved into a smirk.
"Her…?" Hiroshi raised an eyebrow, questioning why Takumi would want him to keep watch on her. "But Takumi; the banquet is only a few days away. The King precisely informed me and the rest to hold him down until the ceremony begins."
"I know; but poor Kei cannot run any further. He's at his limit. No matter where he runs, it just causes trouble, or does it not?" Takumi sat down on a chair with cushions attached onto it. He crossed his legs and took a glass of red wine from a waitress passing down drinks and foods towards every guest.
"Yes, I do know that, but what does that have to do with her?" Hiroshi stood beside him. He looked down at Takumi who took a small sip of wine, acting dramatic to the pause.
"He's bound to get married to your beloved Princess. After all, you are her servant, and nothing more than that. Not to mention, the Yamamoto family holds most of the fraction to almost everything." Takumi stared into his glass of red wine. He fiddled the glass twisting the wine like a wave in the ocean.
"My dear Master only arrived today. She has been gone since the day she'd made me her servant. Or at least, that's how long I've remembered her, since then. Besides all that, why do you keep changing subjects? Are you not pleased with her? Not my Master, but her?"
"No, no; it's not like I dislike her. She's just rather… how would you describe it?"
"Attractive?" Hiroshi spoke without hesitation.
"I suppose. However, there is something else." Takumi spoke softly, taking another sip of his glass of wine.
"I see. If she is 'fascinating' to your taste, I guess I have no choice but to keep watch on her. Nevertheless, about Kei's fiancé: apparently, she had disappeared with her eldest brother. But, she returned today. – In the morning to be precise. My dearest Master hasn't said what happened, nor told me why she'd leave without saying goodbye to anyone. If I were to say or question her, I'm afraid she'd discard me. When she saw me, she's been telling me how happy she is to see be here again. I suppose my Master marrying the King's son wouldn't be so bad. Kei would sadly refuse though, seeing his reaction when his father told him this afternoon, from what I've been told."
"Yes, yes; that is all true. Your Master has returned peacefully from all the years that you have longed for. She knows nothing from today, so keep it a secret, Hiroshi. So far, Kei cannot run anymore. Look after his dear guest. – That is all I ask of you." Takumi ordered as he drank the last drops of wine in his wine glass. Hiroshi nodded without complaint.
"Then let the games begin." Takumi whispered to himself. He stuck his tongue out, licking his lips like he could taste the sweetness of the drink.
I remembered the last words that Takumi last spoke. It was so clear to me; it felt like it only happened a minute ago. Sadly, it was more than one minute ago. I panted heavily, trying to inhale air into my lungs. It was useless. – My throat was dried up; my head was sweating from heat; my lips were dry; I was starting to feel like I was having an asthma attack.
"You alright, Seiren?" Kei held out his hand with a bottle of water in his hand in front of me.
"Does it look like I'm fine?" I took the satisfaction to take the bottle from his hand. I grasped for air again, rushing my hands to open the lid of the bottle. Kei sat down next to me. Our backs were against a tree. He turned his eyes at my hands on the lid, struggling to open it.
"Need help? It seems more like you're suffering more on opening the bottle's lid more than your dehydration." Kei offered his help in a joking manner.
"I'm fine." My voice was hoarse from the lack of water. Kei sighed and took the bottle off my hands. He opened the lid for me like it was nothing. I glared my eyes at him for making me seem like I was a weakling. I grabbed the water in irritation. I drank the water he gave to me, making 'glugging' noises down my dry throat.
"Thanks, even though I said I was fine." I said in a calming voice, regaining myself from hydration. He stared at me, thinking whether if my gender was really a female. I looked back at him with a little irritation to his reaction. "Fix that attitude of yours, or I'll fix it for you."
"Sorry; I can't help it, considering I've never seen a girl have that personality of yours." Kei chucked lightly, holding his ribs from a giggle-fit. I figured I'd let his comments go, bearing in mind that he let me borrow his bottle to drink.
"Which reminds me, where'd you get this bottle? I don't see any shops here, and I also didn't see you carrying a bottle when we left that party."
"I'm magic, that's why." Kei joked around.
"Dude, that's dry. No one ever says that anymore. I also don't believe in magic. Illusions are another story, but other than that, geez. Think of a better joke than that. Oh, and another note. Whatever happened to: "I don't have time for fun and games", huh?" I mimicked Kei from his last serious sentence he'd said to me.
"You're weird, you know that?" Kei chucked again, refraining himself from a giggle-fit again.
"Uh-huh…" I raised a brow at him taking no interest in him. "Hey Kei…?" I stared at him with curiosity.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I've got a lot of things to talk to you about."
"Eh? Like what?" Kei stopped his awkward moment by wiping his tears of laughter from his eye.
"For starters: Why I heard a little girl's voice calling out your name? Why you didn't tell me your name from the start? Why are you being nice to me, now? Why…?" My head felt heavy with everything going through my mind. I rolled myself like a human-ball. – Knees brought up to my chest; my arms crossed together on top of my knees; and my chin rested on my arm, feeling the warmth of my tears dripping down my cheek. There wasn't any more laughter from Kei. He sat there silently. I could see his bangs covering his eyes. Was he frowning just then?
"Because…" Kei began.