A/N: Inspired by the fairy tale, Cinderella. I was just looking through all my old fairy tale books, and I came across a particular rendition of Cinderella that had me howling… I cannot believe I used to read things like that. Don't get me wrong, some fairy tales are amazing, but the one I had…
Obviously this is an AU. Don't expect to find the Digimon here. Not even as horses or dogs or what-not…
Pairings: Daiken/Kensuke, of course. What else? Also some Miyori, but that's just like one sentence… mentioned in passing…
Warnings: Don't expect this to follow the plot of Cinderella too closely. No fairy godmothers here or anything… you might even say I'm mixing and matching fairy tales. It's more like Cinderella than anything else, though. I think. See what other fairy tales you can spot!
No bashing… all irritating characters are originals. All characters from the show are cool. Or they don't come in. So yeah.
Disclaimer: Cinderella isn't mine. I have no idea whose it is. Digimon isn't mine either. I have no idea whose it is, either.
~a fairy tale
It was a terrible accident indeed, and the townspeople spoke about it for months afterwards. The poor lad, they murmured amongst themselves, to have both his natural parents die at such a very young age!
The wine-haired boy ignored them the best he could, as he scrubbed away at the kitchen floor. It was hard, pretending that their whispers did not affect him, but he reminded himself that someday, his life would improve.
Daisuke wrung out his rag, sighing in satisfaction as he looked at the clean floor. It had taken him the better part of an hour to get it cleaned up, after his step-sisters had tracked mud through the kitchen. His step-mother, seeing the mess, had thrown a fit and demanded that he clean it up immediately. As the clock struck six, he picked up the pail and emptied out the dirty water, turning the tap on and rinsing out the pail. He cleaned and wrung out the rag, hanging on a rail to dry, and then proceeded to get himself cleaned up.
He had barely turned on the tap when he heard someone come into the kitchen. "Daisuke!" someone yelled – he recognised the strident voice as belonging to his step-mother. "Get out here and start making dinner right now!"
Sighing, he turned the shower back off, slipping back into his sweaty clothes. He padded out obediently, his step-mother taking one disgusted look at him, and flouncing out of the room.
Dinner was, as usual, an affair solely for the family. That meant, of course, that Daisuke would serve his step-sisters and step-mother. Never mind that the house and land that they lived on was Daisuke's by right – it had belonged to his father, and would belong to him soon enough. The will his father had left behind was with the county lawyer, to come into effect on Daisuke's sixteenth birthday. Till then, no one had been informed of the contents of the will. Daisuke knew, however, that it left most of the property to him. And so he put up with the constant bickering and verbal abuse, the slave labour they put him through, thinking that the land was theirs, knowing that sooner or later they would get their due.
"There are rumours in town," his elder step-sister, Rosa, said, as she tore into her dinner. "That the prince will have to marry soon."
"Isn't he already married?" Daisuke's step-mother, Catherine, asked.
"No, mother," the second step-sister replied. "Daisuke! More potatoes!"
"Yes, Hilda," he replied, dutifully dishing out the food. He then stood back, spiky hair already slightly limp from sweat.
"Prince Osamu is married," Rosa explained. "But his younger brother, Prince Ken, is yet to take a wife. Word is," she lowered her voice conspirationally, "that he would not mind having a man, either."
Catherine and Hilda tittered politely at that, while Daisuke fought hard to keep the frown off his face. It wasn't as if it bothered him that they were discussing the prince so casually, not at all.
"There will be a ball soon, or that's what the rumour is," Hilda continued. "All the most eligible men and women are invited! I suppose we'll get our invitations soon enough. Can we go, mother? Do say yes."
"Well, of course," Catherine said briskly. "It will be an excellent opportunity for us. Just imagine, if the prince took a fancy to one of you! We'd live in comfort for the rest of our lives!"
"The prince will surely be captivated by my intelligence and beauty," Rosa said, sniffing slightly.
"You!" Hilda laughed. "He will be spell-bound by my charm and wit!"
Daisuke slipped away silently, bringing the empty plates with him, as the conversation degenerated from there.
As the clock chimed eight the next morning, Catherine, Rosa and Hilda were only just getting up. Having received his orders the night before, however, Daisuke had been up since five, cleaning the house as quietly as he could. Now he was out at the marketplace, a shopping list clutched firmly in one hand, a moneybag in his pocket.
"A pound of potatoes, please," he asked of the shopkeeper politely. The man looked up and grinned.
"Ah, Daisuke, back again?" he asked jovially, pulling out the potatoes. "You know the drill, money first."
Smiling back, Daisuke reached into his pocket, fumbling for the moneybag – which wasn't there.
The smile freezing on his face abruptly, he promptly turned out his pocket onto the ground, kneeling down to pick through the contents. Besides a few odds and ends, there was nothing else. Certainly no money.
"Oh no," he whispered, realising he'd been robbed. The shop-keeper peered down at him.
"I'm sorry, Daisuke," he said, and he did sound apologetic. "But I can't give you the stuff if you don't have money. You understand?"
"Ah, yes," Daisuke said hastily, shoving his things back into his pocket and standing up. He bowed politely. "I'm sorry for bothering you!"
He ran off before the well-meaning man could ask him what he was going to do, because frankly – he didn't know. Hot tears came to his eyes as he realised that Catherine was going to be absolutely furious when he went back home. Darting behind an old shop, he skidded under a cart, drew his knees up to his chest, and started to sob.
Catherine was definitely not going to be happy. If he were lucky, she'd only flog him to within an inch of his life. He didn't feel particularly lucky at the moment, and he dreaded to think of what she would do to him. And he hadn't had the time to wash up the previous night, so he felt hot and sticky and absolutely miserable. And to top things all off, he was slowly realising that the cold feeling on his bottom might have something to do with the muddy ground he was sitting on.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
He was startled so badly by the unexpected intrusion that he jerked upright, banging his head on the bottom of the cart. He started to swear, but bit the word off as he noticed the young man crouched beside him. He had dark hair – almost bluish-purple, Daisuke noted absently – and a lean, toned body. Much of said body was hidden under a bulky cloak, however, the hood of which was slipping off his head. His eyes, though – they were what caught and mesmerised Daisuke. A striking violet, they gleamed even in the shadows of the cart.
Daisuke dropped his gaze, suddenly embarrassed to be seen in such a state by such a beautiful boy. "Uh – I lost my shopping money," he muttered. "My step-mom is gonna be really mad at me." He sighed, and then realised his eyes were still teary. He hastily wiped away any incriminating signs of tears, and crawled out from beneath the cart. The other boy was wearing somewhat fine shoes, he noticed, quite unsuitable for the muddy grounds.
"Hey, you're gonna ruin your shoes," he said in alarm. He extended an arm to the boy instinctively, grabbing his hand and pulling him up. "Damn, where're you from, anyway? Those sure aren't market shoes."
The boy blushed. "Is it that obvious?" he asked sheepishly.
Daisuke's mouth dropped open. "Holy –" he started to say, but then thought the better of it. "You're a noble, aren't you?" he asked. "At least a noble!"
"Um, yes," the boy said, cheeks stained red. "I just wanted to see what it was like here." There was a trace of sadness in his eyes as he said, "My parents never let me out of my house."
"Oh," Daisuke said. "Well, it's gotta be better than my home life." He cracked a small grin. "Just come on down anytime you can, milord, and I'll show you around." He realised suddenly that he was still holding on to the other boy's hand, and pulled away quickly, a blush rising to his own cheeks.
"Thank you," the dark-haired boy said, a small, genuine smile lighting up his face. "And you are?"
"Motomiya Daisuke," Daisuke replied. "The Motomiyas used to be a pretty rich family, but since my dad died, my step-mom's been running it to the ground. Can't wait till I get the lands back."
"Surely you would own the lands?" the other boy asked, confusion in his eyes.
"No," Daisuke answered. "Not till my dad's will is read out, and the first thing the will says is that the rest of it will only be read out on my sixteenth. That's two weeks from now. Though," he lowered his voice. "Don't tell anyone, but my dad showed it to me before he died. It wills everything to me, so I can finally kick those moochers off my land." There was a fierce gleam in his eyes.
He didn't quite register what had happened until it was over. "Then I wish you good luck, Motomiya Daisuke," the other boy said softly, moving away gracefully. "Till we meet again."
Daisuke stared after him, stunned, still feeling the silky cool lips pressed against his. Why…
And then he realised he was holding a moneybag, far bigger and heavier than his own had been. Realisation dawned.
"Thanks," he whispered, turning to finish his shopping.
"Where have you been?" Catherine demanded the instant he got home. He bowed to her, dropping his eyes to hide the anger.
"My apologies, mother," he said, not feeling sorry at all. "I was detained at the market by a young man seeking directions."
"Hmm," Catherine grumbled. "Well, see to it that you do all the chores properly." She brandished some letters at him. "We have received invitations to the prince's ball, a week from now." She pursed her lips disdainfully. "There is an invitation for you as well, but you will not be going. You will go with us as an attendant, and you may stay in the gardens with the other servants during the ball."
"Yes, mother," he said with barely suppressed rage. He outranked them, they had no right! Swallowing his anger, he asked, "May I be excused? I ought to get started on lunch."
"Very well," Catherine said airily, dismissing him with a wave of her hand.
Came the night of the ball, and Daisuke found himself busy beyond words. He ran between rooms, helping Rosa tie up her hair, finding Hilda's emerald necklace, running down to the seamstress for red cloth to fix Catherine's dress, taking down Rosa's hair back down (she didn't like the first style), pinning back Catherine's hair, fitting Hilda's slippers… he barely had time, in the end, to wash up, brush his hair, and get into the ill-fitting livery they had found him.
The coach took off with a crack of a whip, Daisuke riding on the outside with the driver.
"Cheer up, Daisuke," the young blonde said, smiling at him. "Just a week more, and you'll have control over your own lands again. It'll be much more fun working for you than Catherine."
Daisuke gave his friend a half-smile. "Thanks, Takeru," he replied. "But then, there's the burden of having to get married…"
"You don't have to," Takeru mused out loud. "You could remain a bachelor, and give over your lands to someone you trust."
"Miyako, maybe," Daisuke chimed in. "If I can get her back after Catherine fired her. She took such good care of the estate."
"She did, at that," Takeru agreed. "I hear she married Iori after all, some time after she was fired. But I'm sure she'll come back if you ask her to. She always was fond of you."
"She was, wasn't she?" Daisuke recalled with a soft laugh. "I remember she was always the one to find me and drag me to lessons when I was hiding, for all that we were almost the same age."
Takeru chuckled. "That she did. Ah, we're here, Daisuke," he noted. "Better get ready to help her vaunted ladyships down."
Daisuke saluted him irreverently. "Mission accepted, sir," he said, completely straight-faced. Takeru was overtaken by a fit of giggles, and it was only Daisuke's fast action that prevented the team of horses from galloping right by the castle.
"Think first, laugh later," he scolded, slipping off the seat. Takeru plastered a calm look to his face, trying not to laugh. Daisuke always managed to bring out the better side of people, he reflected. There was just something about him that made it impossible to be sad or upset in his presence. People naturally tried to please him – certainly a good trait for a lord. His 'family' seemed the only exception to the rule.
"Milady," Daisuke murmured, as his step-mother and step-sisters passed by him. He closed the carriage doors after them and signalled to Takeru. The blonde cracked the reins, guiding the team away from the gates and towards the stables.
"Go entertain yourself elsewhere," Catherine hissed. "We will call for you if we need you."
"I will be in the gardens then, mother," he replied quietly. Catherine was already ignoring him, waiting for the herald to announce them, so he slipped away.
Going around the side of the castle, he found himself in the gardens. There were a fair few other people milling around, most of them dressed in servants' garb. He wandered over and struck up conversation with a few people, figuring he might as well entertain himself, as he'd been ordered to.
An hour later, Daisuke was bored out of his mind. He'd chatted to some of the servants there, and while some were pleasant enough (there was a girl called Hikari that he thought Miyako would like), there was no one he really clicked with. That explained his current position, sitting beside the pond, away from everyone else.
"Bored?" a velvet voice enquired. Daisuke jumped and almost went careening into the pond. A hand grabbed his shirt and pulled him back quickly.
Daisuke gasped in surprise, rolling his head back to meet an amused pair of amethyst eyes. "Not funny," he groused, turning around to look at his assailant properly. "Hello again."
It was the same boy from the market, dressed this time in a striking outfit of deep violet and silver. It was an outfit worthy of the prince himself, Daisuke thought irrelevantly, made of a rich, soft fabric.
"Hello," the boy said, smiling softly at him.
"You know, I completely forgot you'd be here," Daisuke said thoughtfully. "But you're a noble, right? So of course you'd be here. So," he grinned mischievously. "What do you think of our vaunted prince?"
The boy blinked. "He's not too bad," he said cautiously. "Why – do you not like him?"
Daisuke snorted. "I know nothing about him," he corrected. "And I'm not about to fall in love with someone I don't know. I could hardly hate someone I don't know, either. So I'll reserve judgement about him till I meet him myself." He smiled at the other boy. "Though if he's half as beautiful as you, he would have all the women in the world falling at his feet, I'd wager."
The other boy blushed brilliantly at Daisuke's words, though he did seem pleased. "Why thank you, my lord," he said pleasantly, standing. Daisuke scrambled to his feet as well, noting that he stood just a few inches taller than the other. Faint strains of music wafted to them on the breeze, carrying through the open windows of the ballroom into the garden.
"Would you not ask me to dance, my lord?" the dark-haired boy asked, as prettily as any lady. Daisuke smiled and extended a hand.
"But of course. Would you do me the pleasure, my lord?" he murmured huskily. He was sure he didn't imagine the shiver that racked the other boy's body as he drew him closer.
The dance was simple enough, a waltz, and he moved through it easily, remembering old lessons on court etiquette and dance. His partner's eyes were sliding closed, just moving with him, trusting him to lead.
They flew open when he pulled him close.
Daisuke just tilted his head towards the castle, and he realised the music had changed to something slower. He leaned his head towards Daisuke's, breathing in the spicy scent that was uniquely Daisuke's. He was struck by the sudden thought that Daisuke's skin was bronzed, almost the colour of cinnamon, and wondered if it tasted like cinnamon too. Resisting the urge to take a taste and find out, he lifted his head to smile at Daisuke – and found hot lips on his own.
He was too surprised for a moment to do anything, and by the time realisation kicked in, Daisuke had already broken away. The taller boy seemed embarrassed, his grip on the other loosening.
"Sorry," he muttered, licking his lips unconsciously. "I thought I should repay you for the other time."
The other boy stared at him in shock for a moment, and then a real smile broke out across his face. "Don't be sorry," he said sweetly, reaching up to bring their lips back together.
It was their first real kiss, giving on both sides, not like the two stolen ones before. Daisuke ran his tongue over the other's lips, finding entrance granted him readily. Tongues clashed in a sensory overload that made them both moan with suppressed passion. When they finally broke apart, their eyes were glazed and they were breathing in short, sharp breaths.
"That was… amazing," Daisuke finally said, pulling his partner flush up against his body and resting his chin on the slender boy's head.
"Mm," he agreed inarticulately, mumbling into Daisuke's chest. A thought suddenly struck Daisuke.
"You know, I don't even know your name," he said slowly. "I never got it, that time at the market."
The other boy pulled away from him slowly, looking at the oh-so-interesting ground avidly. "Um, that is…"
"What?" Daisuke asked. "Am I not good enough for you?" There was real hurt in his voice, and the other boy looked up, eyes pained.
"It's not that!" he protested vehemently. "I love you! It's just… there are far too many people who love me for what I am, rather than who I am."
"Well, seeing as I don't even know what your title is, and yet am already madly in love with you, I highly doubt you have anything to fear from me on that front," Daisuke commented dryly, yanking the other boy closer to him. He saw the smaller boy's cheeks burn red at his statement.
"Don't be embarrassed," he whispered. "It's only the truth."
The other boy nodded against his chest, as if having come to a decision. "Would you be willing to marry me? Even if you've only met me twice?"
Daisuke stared at the other boy in shock, but already knew what his answer would be. "Without a doubt and with all my heart," he whispered sincerely, then shook his head, trying not to blush. "Damn, I sound like a character right out of a romance novel," he joked nervously. "You'd have to give me time to set my affairs in order, but I already know who I'd give my estates to, if it came to that. Or we could always combine our estates. Or something." He gazed into the other boy's eyes. "But I'd definitely marry you. That's a given."
Amethyst eyes lit up, sparkling and radiant with happiness. "Good," he fairly purred out. "I'll let my parents know." There was a sparkle of mischief in those lovely eyes, and Daisuke wondered what he was up to. "As to my name and title, my lovely Daisuke…"
"Announcing His Royal Highness, Prince Ken!"
All eyes turned to the descending figure, clad in an impressive velvet outfit of deep purple and silver. His hair hung like spun silk, moving with his every step – a thin circlet upon his head the only thing that gave away his princely status. A deep maroon cloak swept the ground beside him, white fur trimmed around its edges.
"I thank you all for coming today," Prince Ken began, his voice smooth and cultured. A few ladies tittered amongst themselves, already beginning to swoon over him. The King and Queen – not the mention the Heir to the throne, Prince Osamu, and his wife, Jun – were watching him carefully, knowing that he had put up a grand fight to the idea of hosting a ball.
"I fear, however," Ken continued. The Queen moaned inaudibly, something along the lines of, "I knew it!"
"That you have made a long and arduous journey in vain."
Confused murmurs broke out within the ballroom. Ken smiled beatifically. "This is because, within an hour of his arrival, I have found the one I would spend the rest of my life with."
The murmurs grew in volume. Catherine, Rosa and Hilda were looking absolutely furious that a man had been chosen over them. The rest of the royal family were suddenly beady-eyed, hoping that Ken had chosen a suitable husband.
"May I present to you my future husband, Lord Motomiya Daisuke," Ken announced calmly. There were three loud thumps as Catherine, Rosa and Hilda fainted. Everyone ignored them in favour of drinking in the sight of the descending young god.
For he looked like a god, and Daisuke knew it. Years of hard labour had built up his muscles, and his sinewy body rippled under the clothes that Ken had found him. Thankfully, Osamu was about the same size as he was, and the older Prince likely would not recognise this particular outfit – it was a new one, one that he had not yet seen. Of course, he'd find out sooner or later, but till then…
Ken took Daisuke's right hand as the taller boy came up behind him, and Daisuke wrapped his free arm around Ken possessively, pulling him in front of him.
"It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce my engagement to Lord Motomiya," Ken continued. "But since you are here, ladies, my lords, please do enjoy yourselves to the utmost." He signalled to the musicians discreetly, and they struck up a lively tune. The assembled finally stopped gawking, and found their own partners to dance with. A few servants ran out, collected a certain three prone bodies and ran back out.
Ken could see his parents and Osamu already making their way over. "You're about to be interrogated for your worthiness," he warned quietly. Daisuke smiled down at him.
"Am I worthy in your eyes?" he asked. Ken blinked in confusion.
"But of course!"
"Then that's all that matters," Daisuke said gently. He winked as Ken blushed – again – and bent his head forward to capture Ken's lips.
The rest of the royal family stumbled to a wide-eyed halt. Displaying intimacy in public was just Not Done! How very scandalous – what was this barbarian thinking?!
Ken wrapped his arms around Daisuke's neck, pulling him closer.
When they finally separated for breath, Daisuke was grinning broadly. "This is something I could really get used to," he murmured.
"Kissing?" Ken asked archly.
"Your taste," Daisuke corrected.
"What do I taste like?" Ken asked innocently, batting his eyes at Daisuke.
"Mm… vanilla and caramel," Daisuke decided. "But different. You taste like Ken, and that's a better taste than any I've ever had."
Ken laughed softly. "I wish I could say something as beautiful to you," he mused out loud. "But there's something you really taste like."
"And that would be?" Daisuke asked, arching an eyebrow. Ken smiled.