Sometimes it is a fucking curse to be a man. With little to our names aside from the clothes on our backs and the random trinkets of jewelry, I had to sacrifice my jacket to the cause of keeping my own personal princess warm and vaguely dry despite the soaking rainfall which had barely ceased since morning. And as if the rain pouring from dark clouds wasn't enough, bits of hail were somehow surviving within the heavy shower of freezing water. Talk about insult to injury.
"Sefie, I'm cold..."
It's hard to hold back my sarcasm at Rinoa stating the obvious. "There are lights up ahead. Even if they can't give us a job, maybe they'll give us some shelter for the night."
The raven-haired beauty hugs my jacket tighter around her shoulders. "Can't we just get a room at an inn? We have enough money for at least one night in a decent room. And a warm meal. And maybe some wine?"
"Then what, princess? That's probably all of the money we have left." Hearing a sniffle at my harsh tone, I take a breath to calm my frustrated anger and then say to her, "Come on, love, just one more place, and if they turn us away, we can go to an inn. But no wine, alright?"
Rinoa nods sharply before sniffling once more and leaning against me. Smiling weakly, I wrap an arm around her slim waist and give her a comforting squeeze before I force her to move forward. With the dirt road turned to mud long ago, we walk with slow and slippery steps toward the large mansion in the fair distance. Despite our caution, Rinoa manages to lose her footing and drops to her knees directly in a fairly deep puddle. She throws a small fit before letting me help her feet, but she doesn't bother to quiet her overly dramatic sobs. In any other situation, I would have probably given up on the woman and walked off in my own direction, but as is, my frustration is won out by jealousy. Why aren't men allowed to stomp their feet and cry freely on occasion?
Reaching the mansion, it is a depressing reality to head directly for the servants' entrance instead of the main doors. But I know my place, no matter how much I despise it. Reaching the large door thankfully hidden from rain under an overhanging, I hesitate before pounding on the damp wood. After a time of no answer, I raise my fist again before I hear the annoyed mutterings of woman. Shortly after, the top half of the door swings inward to reveal a tall, older woman with dark hair tied back and mostly hidden under the fabric wrapped around her head.
Her light brown eyes quickly shift from an irritated expression to one of sympathetic curiosity. "My, what is a fine couple like yourselves doing out on a night like this?"
"Forgive the intrusion, ma'am, but is there the chance that this household needs any extra hands? We're willing and able for any task..."
"Oh, is that so? And what kind of jobs did you have in mind exactly?"
"Well, I'm pretty good with horses and other animals. And Rinoa here could be handy in the kitchens or whatever else you need."
A thin eyebrow raises at that. "Good in the kitchen, huh? Looks a bit... refined for servant's work."
Confused by the comment given our waterlogged appearance, I glance down at my side and see Rinoa with her nose crinkled in disgust. After closing my eyes tightly and counting to three, I turn my attention back to the older woman. "Listen, it's like this--"
She waves her hand in a dismissing fashion. "I don't blame you for lying to get out of this weather. Just a moment." The top half of the door is closed before she swings open the entire door for our entrance. "Come inside, dears. I've got other things to do, so don't dawdle."
"Thank you, ma'am," I say with unhidden relief, and gently push Rinoa ahead of me, the smaller woman resisting some to show her reluctance about becoming a servant.
After closing the door and locking it, the tall woman flashes me a kind smile before leading the way into the dimly lit corridor. "We don't have any need for animal handlers, but one of my men broke his leg the other day, so you'll fill in his position. At least you look strong enough to haul in the boxes we get. I'll figure out later what else we can do with you. As for the young lady, we're always in need of people to help with the cleaning around here."
As the older woman speaks, we pass by the kitchen, the room looking to be in near chaos with the mess of people hurrying around and calling out orders to seemingly no one in particular. A young woman of tightly tied back blonde hair rushes out of the large room and heads directly for the tall woman. Before the blonde manages a spoken word, the dark-haired woman holds up a hand.
"Not now, Quistis. I trust your decision about the desserts, so why don't you handle everything until I return."
Despite the young woman's serious expression, her blue eyes seem to sparkle at the words. "Thank you, Matron."
As the blonde rushes off, the older woman turns to face us. "A-ah, forgive my manners. I'm Edea Kramer, but everyone under my charge calls me Matron."
Attempting a smile, I say, "I'm Seifer. And I think I already mentioned Rinoa here."
A warm hand surprisingly pats my cheek. "Cheer up, dear. You're out of the rain, so perhaps your luck is getting better, hmm?"
Staring into her golden eyes filled with kindness, I manage a truer smile.
"Now," she begins while turning smoothly and resuming her graceful stride down the corridor, "I won't have either of you working tonight, but starting tomorrow, you will work from sunrise and until I say you are allowed to go to bed. At the start, you will work for your bed and food. If you work hard and cause me little grief, then we'll talk about getting you some spending money. Is that agreeable?"
"It's what we expected, ma'am."
Reaching a split in the hallway, the older woman stops to glance us over. "You're not married, are you?"
Though tempted to lie, I can't trust Rinoa's reaction. "We're engaged and waiting until we have a little money to support us before we marry."
"That's very sweet, but unfortunately, I can't let you have a room together if you aren't married. You'll have to share with others. If you go on ahead to the fourth door on the left, the young man there, Irvine, will be able to help you out with clothing and your other needs. Meanwhile, I'll take this young lady to her room."
Rinoa turns to look up at me, her princess pout in full form. "Seifer..."
Sighing, I place one hand at her cheek and the other at her waist. "Be patient, love. Go clean up, sleep well, and I'll see you in the morning," I say before kissing her forehead.
"Very well... but only for you," she replies with a soft sniffle.
Standing in place, I watch Mrs Kramer take the young beauty down the hallway, my eyes easily settling on Rinoa's wet dress which clings nicely to her ass. The lovely sight reminds me of how I got into this mess in the first place, and I'm still debating about whether or not it was worth our current situation. Certainly those few nights were very pleasurable, and at one time that personality of hers was endearing, but Rinoa is not meant for this lifestyle. She is accustomed to being served and pampered, so it is no wonder that she is unhappy with my decision. And with this pregnancy of hers, I can only imagine her attitude getting worse with time.
Once the women disappear around a corner, I head for my own room. Knocking on the dark wood, I wait for a muffled 'yeah' before I enter the room, though after I get my first glance over of the room, I decide that calling it a closet would probably be the better term. Two beds, a large dresser, and a couple of small end tables are all that can fit in the room and not block the door to what I assume to be the actual closet. It pains me to realize that I have to share this tiny room with another man.
Sitting on one of the beds covered in dingy brown sheets, a long-haired man glances up at me with a baffled expression. "Can I help you, stranger?"
"Are you Irvine?"
Violet eyes narrow in suspicion. "What's it to you?"
"Mrs Kramer sent me to this room. I start work here in the morning."
With a surprised 'oh', his expression lightens with a lazy smirk and he stands up from the bed. "I was wondering if she'd get someone to replace ol' Matthews. He banged up his leg real good, y'know. But enough rambling, the name is Irvine Kinneas," he says with an extended hand.
Reluctantly, I accept the hand. "Seifer."
An eyebrow raises in curiosity at me not stating my family name, but he thankfully doesn't ask the question out loud. "Well then, Seifer, welcome to your new home. Not much to look at, but the bed is good, the food is warm, and the people are rather friendly. I doubt there's a better place to work than here, as long as you do your share, of course," he adds with a wink. "Though you probably don't care about that right now considering you look like a drowned rat and all. I'll bet you're wanting a bath and dry clothes."
I nod vaguely, suddenly feeling exhausted by the entire situation.
"Then how about I direct you to the bathing area, and while you scrub up, I'll get one of the lovelies to fetch you some clothes. Sound good?"
Running a hand through wet hair, I nod again. "I'd appreciate it... but I was wondering, whose estate is this?"
Irvine chuckles lightly before clapping my shoulder in a sign to leave the room. "Not from these parts, I take it? I was wondering that given your slight accent and those clothes. German, is it?"
"Does it matter?"
"Ah, no... of course not." Clearing his throat, Irvine then says, "This here is the Loire mansion. The master and mistress are pushovers, kindhearted to the core, and the eldest son isn't too bad if you stay out of his way. The two younger sons, on the other hand, are spoiled demons who love to torment the help, but what's new, eh? Just leave them to their nanny and remind yourself that God doesn't approve of murder."
I nod numbly, relieved that the family name doesn't sound familiar. At least embarrassment shouldn't be added to this situation, but I don't delude myself that no one will recognize me and my humiliating decent from lord to servant. Noblemen enjoy their social gatherings too much for me to avoid someone from my past. But as long as I play the dutiful servant with my head bowed and my mouth shut, hopefully I'll make it past this shame.
After setting a large box of apples on the counter, I wipe my forehead free of sweat from carrying too many damn crates of vegetables and fruits since morning. I thought I was muscular before working here, but I didn't realize the difference between muscle gained from fencing as opposed to working all fucking day long. At least it has gotten easier over the last several weeks, but that only makes Mrs Kramer feel less guilty about pushing me harder.
"Is that the last load, Seifer?"
Speak of the devil... "Yes, ma'am. Everything else has been taken down to the cellar."
The older woman smiles before grabbing an apple from the crate and examining it with her long fingers. "Excellent. I must say that I didn't expect you to be such the hard worker, but I'm pleased that I decided to take a chance with you." She then takes my hand in hers and places the large apple in my palm. "After your break, I would appreciate it if you would take a crate of wine to the young master's room."
"A whole crate?"
"Oh yes, Master Squall loves having an assortment of wine on hand to suit his mood while composing. He is an odd child, though. He is more likely to stare at a full glass of wine while humming out some random tune rather than drink the spirits. The strangest things inspire that boy..." Mrs Kramer trails off while examining the rest of the produce.
Knowing that her mind has already switched to thoughts about dinner plans, I leave her and walk in the direction of several young women who talk in low tones and giggle on occasion. While wiping the apple free of dirt, I listen to their unending gossip with little interest. The topic surprisingly hasn't changed since earlier that morning, the word that the eldest son, Squall, was returning home apparently sparking all sorts of gossip around the house. With the man absent upon our arrival a month back, most of the ladies having been satisfying Rinoa's curiosity about the young master, giving her descriptions about everything from his appearance to his apparent skill as a pianist.
Finished with pealing a potato, the raven-haired beauty waves a hand before her face in an overly dramatic gesture. "My, I cannot wait to meet this man. But if he is truly without a lady, I wonder if you all are teasing me about his appearance."
"How I wish I was," states a young woman of short dark hair. "It would make it less of a burden to see him and know that we have little chance to catch his attention."
"Well, he hasn't seen me yet," Rinoa says with a mischievous smile.
"Should I be jealous?" I ask, making my presence known.
Dark eyes glittering with amusement glance up at me. "Don't worry, darling. I'll keep you around in case I don't manage to bewitch Master Squall."
"I'm honored," I state dryly as I move behind her. Leaning over, I place the apple in her lap and kiss the corner of her rosy lips. "How are you feeling?"
"Good," she says, placing a hand against her still flat stomach.
With a pleased hum, I brush back loose strands of dark hair and speak quietly into her ear. "Maybe later tonight, Mrs Kramer will give us some time off. Sound good?"
Rinoa nods in a shy fashion, her teeth biting coyly into her full lower lip.
After kissing her earlobe, I straighten to look for the crate of wine Mrs Kramer had prepared for the young master of the household. As I walk toward the entrance of the kitchen, I smile smugly at the giggling and excited words from the other women who saw our little exchange. While being the doting partner can be extremely taxing at times, it's worth it to gain the sympathy of the others working here. People are more willing to cover for a 'young couple in love'.
Once double checking with Mrs Kramer about the correct box to take, I carry the terribly heavy crate upstairs and to the far side of the mansion where the spoiled youth has several rooms for his own use. While the immense chambers were expected, they are also connected to a huge room which I've seen only once in my short time here. Bare of most furnishings, the focal point of the room is a beautiful grand piano which I've been warned to never touch if I valued my life. While it apparently isn't as expensive as the piano in the ballroom, there is something about the white piano which makes it my favorite. Though that may be because it's untouchable and I tend to want things I'm denied.
Setting the crate on the hallway floor, I take a relieved breath and stretch out my sore back before I opened the door to main sitting area of the young master's chambers. Having no desire to once again carry the box of wine bottles, I drag the crate inside and then easily locate the cabinet holding an assortment of glasses. Opening the bottom doors of the cabinet, I start filling the nearly empty rack with the new bottles of wine. I take my time with the task, glancing over the labels as I attempt to place the bottles in some kind of order. Even so, it takes little time to put everything away. Deciding that my back deserved a longer break, I wander around the sitting room and examine the various art pieces on display. Eventually I come across a painting where if I tilt my head to the left, it almost looks like a woman pleasuring herself...
"What are you doing here?"
Startled by the quiet but stern voice, I turn sharply to see a young man with ragged dark hair, the longest strands just passing his ears. Dressed in a black outfit aside from the white ruffles escaping his sleeves and collar, he stands with perfect posture in the open doorway, his light gray eyes narrowed in an examining glare. Momentarily lost in the piercing gaze of the young nobleman, I nearly forget to answer his question.
"Uh... wine... Mrs Kramer wanted me to deliver the wine... sir..."
Relaxing minutely, the brunet releases his hold on the doorknob and steps forward. "I don't recognize you."
With regained composure, I straighten to my full height. "I began work here about a month ago. I believe it was shortly after you left."
"And your name?"
Stepping far closer than necessary, he surprisingly places his hand under my chin such that only his fingertips lightly touch my skin with their iciness. "Seifer..."
Though about a half-foot taller than the brunet, I feel vaguely intimidated by the young nobleman, that then provoking me to stand my ground and ignore the desire to knock away the offending hand. As I stare directly into the gray eyes streaked with blue, the room begins to feel steadily smaller and a lot warmer with time, but I refuse to be the first to break down. Eventually his eyelids lower a fraction, the dark lashes making his eyes that much more intense as they seemingly peer right through me.
Then without another word, the hand vanishes and the brunet steps pass me just barely avoiding further contact. Stunned and confused by the silent dismissal, I turn around to watch the graceful man stride to his bedroom while unbuttoning his jacket with long fingers. The dark cloth slips off to better show the slim figure that was hidden beneath the stiff material, and the revealed thin white fabric leaves very little to the imagination as his long hair loosely tied by a leather strap sways at his back. But that view is abruptly cut off when the door to his bedroom closes with hardly a sound.
Taking a sudden deep breath, I move back a few unsteady steps while raking fingers through my short hair. Not understanding what exactly had happened, nor really wanting to know, I head for the still open entry, just barely having enough sense to grab the empty crate before walking with a fast stride out of the stuffy room. Closing the door behind me, I take a moment to breathe in the fresher air and regain my cool before returning to the kitchens, all the while trying to convince myself that lunatic musicians don't bother me in the least.
Seated on the grassy ground, I stare up at the dark sky partly void of brilliant stars given the approaching storm. It already smells of rain, the scent an oddly comforting one despite all of the troubles it has been associated with in the past - my mother's illness and eventual death, my father's drinking and temper, the loss of my funds and home... With such a record, it makes me wonder what this coming storm has in plan for me.
"Seifer? Are you out here?"
I close my eyes in brief defiance, but with me sitting in clear view, I don't bother pretending that I can't be found for yet another task. "Right here, Mrs Kramer."
After a startled 'oh', the woman takes a single step closer. "I need you to take a dinner tray to Master Squall."
Curious at being given a server's job, I glance up at the golden-eyed woman.
"Hurry along, dear. Everyone else is too busy with the master's party to take care of his stubborn son, so I need you to do this for me."
At the rare terse tone, I stand up and quickly brush off my clothes before following Mrs Kramer inside just as a deep thunder sounds from the imminent storm. Damn, and I was vaguely hoping to get soaked by rainfall and maybe get sick enough to earn the pity of the 'Matron'. Instead, she points out a large covered tray to carry upstairs, and then promptly walks off to scold some poor idiot for dropping a stack of plates.
Wanting to escape the chaos of the kitchens, I grab the tray with both hands and make my way to the young master's chambers. Since that one time over a week ago, I haven't seen much of the gray-eyed man, and while I was wary of him to begin with, he apparently wore out all of his interest in me during our first meeting. While I typically despise being ignored, I decided to make an exception in his case if it meant avoiding anymore disturbing episodes.
Once reaching the rooms, I knock at the white door, but no reply comes. Instead the sound of someone playing a piano reverberates through the hallway. Knowing from Kinneas that the brunet was nearly impossible to drag away from his music, I decide to enter the rooms without waiting for permission. I place the tray on the low table in the sitting room and hesitate a moment before stepping to the partly open door which leads to the piano room. Nudging the door a little wider, I'm instantly entranced by the image before me.
Given the angle from the doorway, most of the young nobleman is blocked from my view as I stare at his face visible from between the piano and its propped cover. Though his eyes remain close as he plays incredibly fast notes of a turbulent song, his face is the most expressive than I have yet to witness, shifting from pained to thoughtful to angry in rapid succession. His chestnut hair was working its way free of its bindings as several dark strands slipped over his shoulders, then leading my eyes to his unlaced shirt and exposed chest.
The rapid song comes to an abrupt and loud ending as his hands pound on the keys. Startled, I glance up and stare directly into his narrowed gaze, the gray depths icy with an accusatory edge. The man says nothing though, silently demanding me to explain myself.
Lightly clearing my throat, I say, "I brought you a tray from the kitchens, sir. Mrs Kramer thought you may want to have dinner in your rooms."
The scolding expression softens as his eyelids lower in a silent sigh. Once standing, he removes the leather tie from his hair and briefly runs elegant fingers through the dark strands before tying back his hair into its typical ponytail. As he approaches, I step aside to allow him entrance into the sitting room. The young nobleman heads directly for the covered tray, then frowning once he reveals the selection of food.
Taking a single step closer to him, I say, "If there's nothing else you require of me..."
He says nothing while setting aside the silver cover, and then walks in the direction of the wine cabinet. Assuming that the nobleman was dismissing me as he had on our first meeting, I turn and walk several steps toward the exit.
"I didn't give you permission to leave."
I pause in place, eyeing the door to my escape. "Was there something you needed, sir?"
Reluctantly I turn around, positive that I heard incorrectly, but seeing the brunet with two glasses in one hand and an open bottle of red wine in the other, I realize that he truly wants me to share his meal. While I have missed the excellent cuts which are never given to servants, it doesn't ease my wariness at spending any length of time with this man. For some unexplainable reason, he sets me on edge and I don't feel like hanging around to find out why.
Seemingly unbothered by my lack of response, the gray-eyed man sits on the couch and places the glasses on the table before pouring the dark red wine. "Matron purposefully gave me too much, and I dislike wasting food."
Both surprised at his use of the term 'Matron' and the freely offered explanation from the quiet man, I stare at him for a while longer before stepping toward the sofa chair adjacent to the long couch. Despite my issues with staying, I ultimately have no choice in the matter. When Master Squall commands, the servants are to obey.
While the meal was very well made and had one of my favorite dishes, sharing dinner with the silent man was so uncomfortable that it caused me physical pain from sitting tensely for too long. As a result, I end up drinking more wine than I should have. Hell, more wine than I probably had in the past two months combined, and all the while, the nobleman would continue to refill my glass without comment.
With the meal nearly finished, the gray-eyed man sits with his feet curled up beneath him and a half-filled glass of wine in hand. As he stares at the swirling liquid, I have my last bites of the strawberry dessert he forced upon me.
I jump slightly at my spoken name, the first sound the dark-haired man had uttered since telling me to stay.
His eyes not drifting from the red wine, he says, "Interesting name. Is it common in Germany?"
"Uh... no, not particularly," I reply, stuttering slightly on my words. Fuck, getting myself drunk was definitely not a good plan.
He glances up at me through dark eyelashes. "Did you enjoy the dessert?"
"Yeah," I mutter while looking at the cleaned off plate. "Who knew such a bitch could make sweet cakes." A quiet chuckle sounds at my words and I realize that I had said the final bit about Quistis out loud. While leaning forward to place my plate back onto the tray, I say, "Forgive me for my words, sir. I should--"
"Stay and finish your wine."
I hiss out a quiet curse when I stare down at the glass he had refilled at some unrealized moment.
"I see you have finally relaxed some," the nobleman states with a shadow of a smile.
"Why are you doing this?" I ask, stupidly grabbing the goblet of wine for another sip of the excellent drink.
He cocks his head to the side in thought, and after a short pause, he says, "You have incredible eyes."
I nearly choke on the wine in my shock, and then stare dumbly at the dark-haired man.
"So vibrant, so intense... It must be quite the burden to keep your emotions in check."
"Wh... what are you talking about?"
Without a direct reply, he sips deeply from his glass before setting it on the low table. Then standing, the lithe man closes the small distance between the couch and sofa chair. He places a bent leg in-between mine such that his knee nudges against my crotch, and with his hand gripping the back of the chair, he leans forward to make me look directly into his piercing gaze.
"I see built-up pain and anger in these eyes. Such passion that you refuse to release..." With a bare curl to his pale lips, he says, "You are quite the stubborn man."
Extremely uncomfortable with his softly spoken words and closeness, I try to move back and only succeed at gaining a centimeter of breathing room. Fuck, if I didn't have to worry about Rinoa and our situation, I could have easily handled this by now with a hard punch to his face.
"Nervous, are we?" the nobleman says with a soft smirk. "Perhaps you think you don't care for men?"
"I don't," I say a bit too sharply.
"Then why do I always feel your eyes upon me?"
While pausing to collect my calm, I silently curse my lack of discretion when it came to observing the secretive nobleman. "It must have been your imagination, sir. Men don't interest me in the least, and so I've only been with women."
With a disbelieving hum, he asks, "Then, are you a gambling man?"
"Depends," I reply warily.
"On the stakes, no doubt. Very well. If you win, then I swear to leave you alone from this day forth. But if you fail, you are mine tonight."
"... And the bet...?"
"That I can make you come before you finish your wine," he states with a confident air.
I glance at the decent amount of red wine in my glass and my stomach turns at the idea of rapidly drinking the nearly full goblet, but this isn't an opportunity to pass over despite the suggestive curl to his lips. "I only have to drink the wine...?"
With a small smile, he leans forward to speak directly into my ear. "You only have to drink the wine. But be careful to not spill it," he adds just before biting my earlobe and then gently sucking on the sensitive flesh.
The unexpected move makes me inhale sharply, and then he draws a louder gasp from me when his knee slips forward and rubs hard against my groin. Already intoxicated, those simple but unfortunately pleasurable moves wipe the few remaining thoughts from my mind. Time seems to come in spurts after that, the dark-haired man biting the base of my neck at one moment, and then suddenly he is kneeling on the floor as his fingertips glide along my bare stomach. It's that cold touch which startles me out of my daze, and after glancing down at my curiously opened shirt, I finally remember the wine glass in hand.
Given my rushed breaths, drinking the wine is more of a challenge than it should be. Most likely knowing this, the gray-eyed man chuckles breathily against my exposed skin before nipping at my bellybutton. Trying to ignore that ticklish feel, I focus on drinking the dark red wine. With only a few mouthfuls left, I'm startled by my pants being tugged forward before cold fingers undo the lacing. Trusting that his hand would do nothing for me, I take a deep breath before swallowing more of the wine, but that mouthful is then spat back into the glass when wet roughness strokes the tip of my partial arousal.
I move the glass to stare down at the sight of the nobleman licking my redden cock much like a cat enjoying its milk. "What are you doing?"
After sucking lightly at the very tip of my arousal, the dark-haired man looks up to meet my wide-eyed gaze. "Isn't it a bit obvious?"
"Doesn't your fiancée pleasure you like this?" he asks, then nibbling at the edge of the red crown.
"You know about Rinoa," I state dazedly, instantly curious as to why he would do this to me when he knows I'm involved with another. Then anger flashes through me at his question. "Of course she doesn't do... this. It's too..."
He smiles knowingly. "Pedestrian?"
Before I have the chance to think of a response, the experienced mouth is upon me once more and drives the strangest whimper from my lips. Never wasting my money on whores, I have only been with refined women who prefer to be caressed and pampered, rarely offering the same services in return. And even those few times couldn't compare to this. Unlike those woman, the gray-eyed man knows exactly what he is doing.
My head lulls back and to the side as I stare helplessly at my nearly finished glass of wine. Only a few more sips and I could escape this overwhelming pleasure... why did I want that again? Without warning my pulsing length is taken even deeper into warmth, his tongue creating amazing pressure on my cock before he slides back with his teeth lightly grazing the sensitive flesh. A rumbling moan sounds, and before I identify it as my own, the shattering of glass makes me jump.
"I believe that is a forfeit."
Looking away from the split wine and the glass broken on the floor, I stare directly into gray eyes which shine with a gleam of victory. My breaths rushed and my cock throbbing, I wonder with a fuzzy mindset if losing this bet was truly a bad thing.
The lithe man stands up smoothly, and with a quiet, "Follow me," he walks in the direction of his bedroom.
Showing far less grace due to the mix of alcohol and my aroused state, I silently submit to my fate and follow after the brunet. I pause at the doorway in the attempt to regain some composure, but that leads to another failure as I dumbly watch the man undress. The white shirt already removed and dropped to the floor, he unhurriedly removes his dark pants to reveal more of the lightly colored skin. He then unties the leather strap holding his lengthy hair in place, and dropping it onto an end table, he opens the small drawer to pull out a vial.
He turns to face me, a dark eyebrow arched high. "Afraid?"
More than anything else, that convinces me to follow through with the conditions of the bet. Focusing on his silken dark hair which flows over one shoulder, I slip off my previously unbuttoned shirt and let it drop next to the doorway. The gray-eyed man smiles softly at my surrender before stepping back against the bed and lying down on the large mattress.
Recognizing the stirrings within my body at the sight of his lightly colored skin contrasted against the dark sheets, I smirk weakly and close the bedroom door tightly behind me.
My eyelids snap open, which is instantly proven to be a terrible decision on my part as searing light makes my poor eyes tear up in pain. I roll onto my side and pull the pillow over my head, the cool softness helping to relieve the ache which starts at my forehead and throbs all the way to the back of my skull. Trying to remember what I had done to deserve such a fate, I recall Mrs Kramer's request of taking the dinner tray upstairs, and then there was Master Squall's demand to stay and share his meal...
"Shh, it's just 'Squall'..."
"Oh God," I croak out as the echo of the nobleman's voice comes to mind. The wine, the bet, and the night of fucking rushes back to me in blurry images, and my body begins to ache as I remember the long night which should have never taken place. I can almost see him above me with his mouth parted in a silent cry and long strands of dark hair sticking to sweaty skin. And then there was another image of him beneath me, his gray-blue eyes wide in some emotion akin to fear. I said something...
At the creak of a door, I sit up sharply and wince at the pain it causes me. With squinted eyes, I look in the direction of where the door should be, but it suddenly becomes apparent that I never made it back to my own room last night.
"I thought you'd be here," sounds a drawled out voice.
Moving the pillow to cover my exposed body, I glance over at Kinneas and reflexively say, "This isn't what it looks like."
The lanky man chuckles at that. "You didn't come to our room last night, much to your princess' displeasure I might add, and I find you here, naked in the young master's bed... what else could this situation imply?"
"I wish I had a fucking clue," I murmur, pressing the palm of my hand against my throbbing forehead. "Wait a minute, how did you know...?"
"That you'd be here?" he asks while bending over to grab my clothes from the floor. "Well, Master Squall has been eyeing you since the day after he got back, so I knew it was a matter of time. Let me guess, too much wine followed by some bet?"
I dazedly watch Kinneas approach the bed. "He... does this often?"
"Well, that depends on what you call often. Basically, it's whenever he's in some kind of slump and there happens to be a new servant in the household. Personally, I had my money on him taking that girl of yours, but assuming your ass isn't sore, he must have been in need of a good fuck."
"Oh God," I groan out, trying to separate the numerous pains I was feeling. Did I get fucked last night? What exactly would that feel like the morning after?
Kinneas drops my clothes onto the bed and smiles lazily at me. "Don't put too much thought into it. He fucked me on my third day here and I haven't had any urges to be with another man."
I glare at him with total disbelief in his words.
"I'm serious, Seif. One night means nothing. And before you ask, yes, there was only one night. I have yet to hear of Master Squall taking a person back into his bed after the one time, no matter how much the person would beg."
"Don't call me 'Seif'," I say in a quiet growl, then grabbing my pants to pull them on.
"Right, I'll try to remember that," he replies with a touch of bitterness toward my continued dismissal at his attempt to befriend me or some shit like that. "Anyway, I told Matron that you didn't come back from delivering the tray, so she knows you'll be late this morning."
My eyes widen at the implied words. "She knows?"
"Shit, Seifer, everybody knows by now. Well, except that little darling of yours, I would guess. An overly innocent thing, isn't she?"
Grabbing the pillow, I press it hard against my face with the plan to smother myself before I'm forced to go downstairs and confront the gossip hens in the kitchens. Why didn't anyone think to warn me about this beforehand? Growling a curse into the pillow, I figure that if I can't manage to suffocate myself now, at least the humiliation should kill me within the hour.
Against what I believed, my night with the young nobleman caused me few problems among the other servants, and then it was seemly forgotten after about a week. At the beginning, I had to deal with the occasional jabs from some of the men as they would voice their 'concern' about my sore ass and offered ointments to help with the redness. Of course, my ass was never sore since I had been the one to do the fucking that night, but those details didn't matter to them. The women were more discrete with their talk, my passing by them only causing giggles and wide smiles. Rinoa seemed blissfully ignorant of the entire matter, but then she had other worries with that growing belly of hers.
Despite my initial anger with the Fates to hand me a woman pregnant with my child at the same time they stole away my wealth, I was beginning to fall in love with the small life forming within the raven-haired beauty. That first sight of the flat stomach giving away to a bulge was gorgeous beyond words, and Rinoa had yelled at me that night to stop staring at her belly since I made her feel fatter than a cow. I, of course, said something stupid and got kicked out of her room, but my cocky smile didn't disappear until well into the next day.
Watching her help to decorate a cake, I smirk happily as I wonder what the child should look like. While a son would be best, I don't think I would mind a girl if she had Rinoa's beauty. I just hope my son or daughter can forgive me for raising him or her in a situation that can only lead to servitude.
"Well, you look like a man who needs something to do."
Hiding my disappointment at being put back to work, I look over at Mrs Kramer. "Is there something you need, ma'am?"
With a sweet smile, she points at crate filled with wine bottles. "That needs to go to Master Squall's room, if you wouldn't mind. And put them away the same as last time. He was pleased that one of the servants knew the proper way to arrange wine bottles."
Hesitating, I stare at the crate as if it were a deadly trap, but like hell I'd voice my fear of going upstairs. "Yes, ma'am. I'll do that now."
And so, I soon find myself in the familiar hallway filled with the sound of piano music. Despite the headaches the pianist has given me so far, I still find myself attracted to his music. By chance, I have even found a place outside to sit on cool grass and listen to the various compositions he plays. While I try to kid myself that I don't think about about the dark-haired man when I listen to his music, I can still clearly imagine the sight of him playing the white piano. While I would never admit it out loud, Master Squall is an annoying attractive man.
When there isn't a response to my knock, I enter the room just as I have the times before. Ignoring the partly open door inside, I move directly to the wine cabinet and arrange the various bottles of wine with those already in the rack. I oddly had little urge to rush with the job, and instead took my time while studying the selection of wine. Fuck, why did the man have to have good taste in his alcohol?
Once done, I close the white doors and stand up with the emptied crate in hand. Turning, I'm not surprised to see the gray-eyed man leaning against the door frame and staring at me with a bored expression.
"Was there something you needed, sir?" I ask, not hiding my bitterness at being manipulated the last time I visited these chambers.
The corner of his lips curl into a faint smile. "Yes, there is. Have a seat."
I carelessly drop the crate to the floor and step over to the sofa chair, proving to either the nobleman or myself that I wasn't going to let the events of weeks ago bother me. Sitting there, I feigned disinterest as I watched the graceful man walk across the room to the desk there. He removes a single sheet from a drawer, and after briefly studying it, he closes the drawer and walks to couch. Once seated, he places the sheet onto the table and slides it over to me. When he says nothing while leaning back against pillows, I decide to take the bait and glance over the sheet. My eyes widen the moment I realize what I'm reading.
"Where did you get this information?" I ask, unable to speak louder than a whisper.
He shrugs. "Once I had your family name, it was fairly easy for my father's men to research your past. Though given the short amount of time they've been looking, I doubt they have uncovered everything yet."
Glancing over the list again, I notice that they haven't missed much. "How...? I didn't tell anyone... Did Rinoa tell you my name?"
"No. You did."
I close my eyes, silently swearing to never drink wine again.
"Seifer Almasy... You have quite a bit of debt to your name. A few of those notes could land you in jail."
As if I didn't know that. "What, going to have me arrested?"
"No, I prefer extortion."
Hearing those words, my lips slowly form a cynical smirk as my hand crumples the sheet in hand. "You would, you fucking bastard. Is this how you find enjoyment in life? Tormenting servants who can't say, 'no'? Well, guess what." I say while standing from my chair. "I'm done with this. I'd rather be in a cell than spend one more moment with you, so do whatever you want with this information." Throwing the balled up sheet of paper on the floor, I turn sharply and walk to the door.
"What about your unborn child?"
Reluctantly I stop in place at the question, but I don't face the man. "What about him?"
"Would you have this debt be passed onto him? Just as you inherited it from your father?"
Eyes closed and fists clenched, I don't reply to the nobleman. Of course I wouldn't want my child to suffer from my family's debt, and I'm doing my best to prevent that. But there is only so much I could do.
"I could pay off this debt."
A sharp laugh escapes me. "For what, a life of a prostitute? Yes, I'm certain that my child could find pride in his father for that one. Maybe he could even follow in my footsteps."
He sighs at my sarcasm. "According to my father, I'm in need of a valet. I want you."
"Valet... A manservant, you mean. Someone to 'service' you everyday. Is that your supposed deal?"
I hear the brunet stand up from the couch and walk in my direction. "I have no desire for whores."
At the loud sound of a door being closed tightly, I look over my shoulder and hear the telltale noise of the nobleman locking himself inside the piano room. I'm not certain about how much longer I stared at that closed door, but the nobleman was well into a turbulent piece of music by the time I decided to leave the young master's chambers.
In a type of daze, I walk to the kitchens and then realize that I had forgotten the crate upstairs. Wanting to avoid Mrs Kramer in the case she asks about the missing box, I head directly for the door which leads outside. Stepping out into the warm early evening air, I pause to take a deep breath.
Glancing to the side, I smile at the sight of Rinoa and her pouting expression of confusion. "Well, hello there, lovely. Are you on break?"
She nods. "Yes, but are you all right, Sefie? You look upset."
"Nothing for you to worry about."
Taking her hand in mine, I lightly kiss her fingers before leading her to the other side of the mansion. It's too easy to find the familiar area of thick grass, and I sit down with little care about staining my clothes.
"I hear a piano," Rinoa states while gazing up at a second floor window. "Is that Master Squall playing?"
I shrug, feigning ignorance. "Sit with me for awhile."
The raven-haired beauty smiles down at me before kneeling and then allowing me to seat her between my legs. With one of my hands lightly covering her stomach, I brush aside dark hair from her neck and lightly attack the long neck with gentle kisses.
"He plays beautifully, don't you think?"
I pause at her question, then sigh out a 'yes' while resting my head against her shoulder.
"It's hard to believe that such a cold man can create music like this. Did I tell you how he never replies whenever you greet him with a 'good morning' or the like? He's so rude."
Silently I argue the woman, thinking to myself that the icy-eyed man was quite the bastard, but he didn't seem rude on purpose. He is obviously a man of few words, and probably has high standards about who is worth those words. Compared to his siblings, the dark-haired man didn't abuse his authority over the servants and held a quiet respect for his father. And more importantly, despite the information he now holds against me, he offered me help instead of ridiculing me for my downfall from lord to servant. No, the nobleman wasn't as rude as most of those I called friend in the past.
As Rinoa continues along her common complaints about being a servant, my thoughts drift while I debate my options. While the offered position disgusted me, I also had to consider the benefits for my future wife and unborn child. No matter what else I could argue, being the personal valet to the elder son of the Loire family is more respectable than being a servant whose main job is to carry and wash things. In addition, there could be decent money with the higher ranking position. And while sacrificing even more of my pride is out of the question, those last words spoken by the brunet suggests that I misunderstood the purpose of his request. There is the vague chance he truly wants to help me.
With my choice mostly made, I return Rinoa to the kitchens, and after telling Mrs Kramer that I had accidentally left something upstairs, I find myself standing in front of the closed door to the young master's room. With a fist raised, I hesitate before knocking loudly at the door. Unsurprisingly the piano music doesn't halt in the least and I'm forced to the enter the room without permission. Moving directly to the door which leads to the piano room, I knock against the painted wood. When he doesn't respond yet again, I continually knock at the door until I'm satisfied by the discordant noise of hands pounding against piano keys.
The door soon opens and reveals the dark-haired man, only his eyes giving away any of the anger he feels at being disturbed. But once seeing me, his expression softens ever so slightly as a dark eyebrow aches in question.
With more confidence than I felt, I ask, "Do you swear that I will never be forced to have sex with you again?"
His lips curl into a bare smile. "As long as you refrain from gambling."
"I don't intend to drink wine again, either," I state seriously, not appreciative of his mocking air.
His smile broadens slightly before he turns and steps toward his piano. "Go inform Matron about your new status, and then return with dinner."
"Wait," I say, the man surprisingly stopping at my command. "Why me?"
He doesn't reply for a long moment, but then speaks softly. "You said something I needed to hear."
"And what was that exactly?"
"... Ask me another day," he states, resuming his steps to the white piano.
Recognizing his dismissal, I shake my head at the worthless response and leave him to his music. After grabbing the empty crate, I walk toward the kitchens while distracting thoughts circle within my mind. For the life of me, I can't imagine telling the man something which may have struck the musician as important. It must have been during that single night, but too much of it has been lost to me. More likely than not, I had said something incredibly stupid with that drunken tongue of mine.
"Seifer, where have you been?"
I glance up, surprised to notice that I had already reached the hallway to the kitchens and that Mrs Kramer was standing directly before me.
She sighs at my distracted state. "No matter. I need you to fetch some things from the cellar."
"Sorry, ma'am, but Master Squall has enlisted me as his valet."
The light brown eyes widen at my announcement, the woman then smiling brightly. "Well, about time he found someone he can trust as his personal servant. Wait here while I have a dinner tray made for you to take upstairs." Before walking too far, Mrs Kramer then calls over her shoulder, "Be certain to serve him well, boy. You may have escaped my kitchens, but I will still be keeping my eye on you."
Author's Whining -- Really, this was supposed to be a one shot, but obviously SxS didn't want to work with me on that one. And so, I decided to surrender to their whims and expand on the story a little bit. It's just going to have one more chapter of typical angst and sappiness... I guess Squall deserves to have his pov spoken within this mess. =P
This was the request made by Jamaica: "I think most of your stories involved Seifer chasing after Squall. So I'm here requesting a story where Squall actively chases after Seifer. Make Seifer, uh, has a girlfriend or something." Heh, she's right that I tend to have Seifer do the chasing, but that's the dynamics of their personalities as I see it. Seifer is the in-your-face type who gets whatever he wants, while Squall is the quiet type who tends to let others decide the path of his life even though he leads people through actual battles. It just seems more natural to me that Seifer would initiate a relationship while Squall would just mutter 'whatever' and let himself be ravished. ^_-