It was 9:15 in the morning when Kaoru Kamiya, future Marchioness of Darcia, decided to eat her weight in scones.
The lady in question had a vague notion, that if she were to intake monumental amounts of puffy cream filled goodness, the Marquis of Darcia might be disinclined to marry a human balloon. Not to mention, she was quite sure no dress in Les Dames Royales would fit a human sized war ship.
It wasn't that she didn't trust the Marquis on his word, but it couldn't hurt to give him some… incentives for keeping his promise. Besides, there were worse ways to go than stuffing yourself to the bursting point with the fanciest delicacies in the world. Really, it was no trouble at all.
With that happy thought, she glowed on the way to the market, eager to purchase her tasty weapons of choice.
And so, 10:03 in the morning found Miss Kaoru Kamiya, hereto still in possession of a slim and fetching figure, bartering with the scandalized owner of an expensive pastry shop.
"You want all of them." The man said. It wasn't so much of a question, as a dead panned repetition of what Kaoru had just said. If Kaoru had to define it precisely, she would say that it was probably equal parts distain and equal parts disbelief.
"Yes," she confirmed, flashing her pearly whites for effect, "every single one."
"You want all of them."
"Especially the cream filled fatty ones." Again, she flashed her winning smile.
The pleasantly portly pastry shop owner eyed Kaoru up and down with a look that could only mean—'you young miss who is neither fashionable nor noble could not possibly afford every one of my distinguished and delectable sweets. The price of one of them could probably buy the entire outdated outfit that you are wearing on your back.'
But of course, he said instead.
"You want all of them."
The smile on Kaoru's face was beginning to develop an unfriendly twitch that could only mean, 'yes, yes I am quite sure. If you ask me again this smile that I am wearing will undoubtedly turn into a snarl. And then, I may have to beat you with my ex-friend the broomstick which I will not be punished for because I am temporarily the next Marchioness of Darcia. Kapishe?'
But of course, she only said, 'Yes, I would like all of them.'
If Kaoru had known that buying some dessert would be so troublesome, she probably would have revised her brilliant plan.
But in that instant she decided that if she ever developed enough cooking mastery to manage her own pastry shop, she would be glad—no, overjoyed when any customer wanted to patron her wares. She would develop some cheesy but poignant motto along the lines of 'the customer is always, always right.' She would write the mantra and post it over the menu. She would beat it (figuratively speaking) into all her hired hands.
And then she would put snotty uppity pastry owners out of business forever.
Kaoru blinked, momentarily forgetting her progressive business model. She had not realized the man had spoken again.
"The price, mademoiselle, is 100 gold francs." He said with unnecessary triumph.
"Ah." Kaoru said perfectly amiably.
The young woman reached into her cleverly sewn pockets and pulled out a modest unassuming brown purse which she unlaced and upturned on the shop keeper's counter in one smooth motion.
One hundred shiny coins clattered like golden raindrops as they fell in an impressive heap on the marble surface.
The triumphant look vanished in the light of the man's astonishment. Kaoru couldn't help feeling just a tiny big smug.
"You were serious."
"Yes, why wouldn't I be?"
The man looked up from the gleaming pile of wealth on the table to Kaoru's unremarkable appearance. The shopkeeper stared as if Kaoru was a puzzle he couldn't quite figure out.
The owner snapped to attention.
"Ah yes, we'll send your sweets right up mademoiselle. I'll have the shop boys carry your order."
"Begging your pardon mademoiselle, are you having a party?"
"In a manner of speaking."
He frowned at the cryptic response. Scribbling on a sheet of paper he asked, "Now where do I have the pleasure of sending this to?"
The man's eyes bulged.
He flustered. "Unfortunately?"
Kaoru smiled humorlessly.
"Unfortunately." She confirmed in a tone that meant no further explanations.
It was 10:30 in the morning when Tomoe Yukishiro was effectively snubbed.
Needless to say, the reigning beauty queen did not take any form of slight very graciously, whether imagined or implied. The lovely swan of the realm had heard through her various sources that the Lady Kamiya was throwing an elaborate tea party. She had sent some servant girl to order two hundred of the finest pastries in the world.
And she had not invited the Lady of Whitmore.
It was an insult to end all insults.
Who did the chit think she was?
Some nameless nobody who thought herself the next Marchioness would dare to snub one of the wealthiest heiresses in the realm?
Tomoe paced around in her sun room like a petite and angry lynx that swished her figurative tail in irritation every time she made a full round of the space. Tomoe had considered herself above pettiness; she was a lady of the first degree. However, this Kamiya girl had gone too far.
Tomoe would see to it that she paid dearly for her social faux pas.
Stalking to her writing desk, she took out a cream colored sheet of scented paper. Penning a note to Megumi in her elaborate script, she informed the famed seamstress that she would be paying a visit at roughly 2:15 in the afternoon.
She then penned another note to La Crème du Sucre ordering three hundred fresh pastries.
And last but not least, she penned a personal invitation to the Lady Kamiya, inviting her to a tea party.
It was 3:40 in the afternoon when Kenshin stumbled upon a tower in his living room.
It was surrounded by a circle of cheering tourist that suspiciously resembled his butler, a splattering of doormen, and a gaggle of maids.
Even more suspicious, they were cheering. He had it on the best accounts that distinguished hired help do not cheer for any reason; unless of course, it was for the untimely death of an unpleasant employer, or the fact that they had inexplicably become insanely wealthy.
Since neither was the case, he walked forward, curious—clearing his throat he watch as his group of tourist miraculously turned back into hired help and resumed their positions, mumbling apologies.
In their wake they revealed his petite fiancé, looking adorable as she tried to stack what looked like a blueberry crème puff on top of a giant tower of sweets.
Kenshin raised a brow.
"Is there a reason why you're reconstructing the tower of Babel in my living room out of afternoon pastries?"
Kaoru turned in surprise.
"Himura I didn't hear you come in."
"You were busy." He allowed, glancing at the tittering tower of frills and crème. "Now, the tower of Babel?"
Kaoru rolled her eyes. "Well sir, its obvious isn't it?"
Kaoru grinned cheekily, as she pushed yet another pastry on top. "If you had read your bible you'd know that I was trying to reach the gates of heaven."
"On a stack of pastries."
"A stack of very expensive pastries. I used only the best blueberry shortcakes."
"That is what I said."
Kenshin crossed his arms, leaning against the doorframe.
"Why are you building the tower of Babel, in my living room, out of blueberry shortcakes?"
Kaoru shrugged. "I ran out of raspberries."
Kenshin Himura stared in silence at the dark haired young girl worrying over her tower of crème puffs and cakes. He didn't fail to notice his distracted staff wandering over ever so often to check on her progress.
"I find I have nothing to say." He admitted inanely.
Kaoru cast her blue eyes in his direction.
"You don't like it?"
"God didn't like it."
"Yes well," She pushed another puff into place, "at this precise moment I am not asking about his opinion."
"I would never think to usurp God's opinion in any moment."
"A wise man," Kaoru agreed.
Kenshin laughed, prowling forward he easily caught her arm.
"You're a very strange girl mademoiselle."
She looked slyly at him. "Too strange to marry?"
"Not yet. Now are you going to tell me the real reason behind this …work of art?"
"Well that depends if you're sure you want to know."
"Yes…" He said after a few moments.
"You don't sound very sure." Kaoru glanced up at him doubtfully.
"I was deliberating," He explained. "I'm sure now."
Kaoru scrutinized him. Kenshin stared back, the perfect picture of assurance.
"Alright then," she said finally, "but you might find this answer unbelievable."
"I am not stalling."
"I was going to eat it."
Kenshin glanced from her to the monstrous tower. There must have been at least one hundred and fifty pastries.
Kaoru turned expectantly towards him, waiting for his reply. It would probably be along the lines of:
'You're going to eat all of it?'
At which point she would answer. 'Yes, all of it.'
He might then respond with a witty and profound, 'All of it?' Just in case he heard incorrectly, or had the ridiculous notion that she was willing to share.
So it was with great surprise when the Marquis of Darcia said neither of those things. Giving her a wry look he asked instead, "Do you always play with your food before you eat it?"
"You're not going to ask me if I plan to eat all of it?"
"Do you want me to ask?"
The young woman shrugged.
"Not in particular."
"Well in that case, are you planning to eat all of it?"
"Why?" Kaoru narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him. "Do you want some?"
The corner of Kenshin's mouth twitched. "And what if I did?"
Kaoru wagged a finger at him in warning. "You will discover that you have made the very poor choice of marrying a miserly bride."
Kenshin crossed his arms over his chest. Cocking his head to one side, he looked down at her through the long red strands of his bangs.
"You have a thousand pastries and you're not going to share with me?" He asked with just enough incredulous disapproval and self righteous outrage to make any miser hand over their extra goods sheepishly.
"Of course not." Kaoru said, unruffled, clearly an above average miser. "Besides, I don't have a thousand pastries, only two hundred."
Kenshin raised his brows. "You're going to eat two hundred pastries."
Kaoru nodded enthusiastically. "I am going to eat two hundred pastries."
Kenshin glanced at the tower then back at her with a strange look on his face. "Do you always eat two hundred pastries?"
"No, usually just five. Two is not enough and four begs for one more." She paused. "You're still looking at me strangely."
"Why," the Marquis asked in infinite patience, stressing the word longer than necessary, "are you going to eat two hundred pastries?"
"Five is delicious."
Kaoru sighed, beleaguered.
"What is it that you're asking?"
Kenshin looked at her.
"Why are you eating a thousand—"
"Two hundred." Kaoru interrupted. "There's only two hundred."
A muscle twitched underneath Kenshin's left eye.
"Beg pardon mademoiselle, why are you eating two hundred pastries?"
Kaoru glanced at him.
"You truly want to know?"
"I can't imagine anything else I desire more at this moment."
Kaoru cocked her head to one side. "Really?"
Kenshin sighed. "Yes, a thousand times yes."
"Well." Kaoru began. "Promise not to laugh?"
Kaoru frowned. "Then I won't tell you."
"Well in that case, I'd have to take drastic measures."
Kaoru raised a brow at him. "I can't imagine anything you could possibly do that will make me want to tell you." She thought about it. "Actually, I take that back you could--"
"I could have the staff eat your tower of pastries."
The dark irises of Kaoru's eyes widened. She stood up, a perfect picture of outrage.
"You will do no such thing!"
Kenshin grinned unrepentantly. "I saw a few of them eyeing your tower with fervent longing. You wouldn't want my staff to work fervently longing for something only an arms' length away would you? Not even you are that cruel."
Kaoru sat back down, crossing her arms petulantly.
"I hope you know this is blackmail." She accused sourly.
Kenshin smiled. "I prefer to call it reasoning."
Kenshin looked at her expectantly, nodding towards a passing servant who had popped in to check on Kaoru's progress.
"See? A fervent long-er as we speak."
Kaoru rolled her eyes.
"You cannot use long-er as a noun." She paused. "You can't use it as anything! It's not even a word."
Kenshin shrugged. "If I say it's a word, I'm sure I can get it added into the official dictionary."
"That is clearly a blatant misuse of power."
"Nonsense, I'm enriching the French language."
Kaoru laughed. "You're incorrigible."
"That's a big word."
"And I didn't even have to force it into the dictionary, imagine that." She smiled sweetly.
Kenshin grinned at her, glancing meaningfully at the pasteries.
"Alright fine!" Kaoru threw up her hands. "I'll tell you."
"The angels are singing."
"Shut up your grace." She said ungraciously.
Kenshin gently poked her forehead with the tip of his finger.
"Impertinent wench, I'll have you know that men have died for a slighter offense."
"Yes." She said dryly. "I am aware of such dangers. In anycase," she continued before he could interrupt her again, "it is my wish to gain about three stones before the party."
Kenshin blinked at her, not comprehending. It was under his impression that young misses of Kaoru's age were exceptionally aware of their figures. It was also his impression that no young miss wished to expand three times their current size for any reason; especially not by the way of crème cakes.
"Er—" He said intelligently.
"I am making a fashion statement." Kaoru continued amicably, as if she was explaining a very simple concept to a daft child.
"And what statement is that?"
"Have you ever seen a warship sir?"
"Well no," Kaoru admitted sheepishly. "But I hear they are HUGE."
"They are." Kenshin agreed, not seeing how this mattered to the conversation one way or another. Perhaps the girl was simply crazy.
"Well my statement is that BIG is beautiful."
Kenshin choked on his laughter.
"You don't think so?" She asked, crestfallen.
"I think that you, Miss Kaoru Kamiya are a weasel."
Kaoru gazed at him in shock. "A what?"
"A small rodent like animal that is dishonest and sly."
"I know what a weasel is." Kaoru said annoyed.
"Well in that case Miss Weasel Kamiya, were you or were you not trying to sabotage your part in accompanying me to the ball?"
"Not!" Kaoru exclaimed.
The silenced lapsed between them.
"Maybe a little."
Kenshin crossed his arms.
"Alright maybe a lot." She allowed. "But you never said I couldn't eat desserts to gain unslightly weight."
"No," Kenshin's lip twitched. "But if Aoishi Shinomori didn't do you in, I can't imagine death by pastry is a more honorable way to go."
"I'm not going to die."
"Your stomach will explode."
"It will not!"
"Yes it will, and I hear it's very messy."
And so, it was with great disappointment at 4:15 in the afternoon when the scuttle maid snuck by to discover that no progress had been made to the tower of pastries. Instead, the mistress and the master of the household were locked in heated battle concerning who could eat more pastries, and when the other in question would explode.
Dear loving and loyal fans,
I am very sorry this chapter is so late. Please forgive me—and thank you very much to those of you that have written to me with polite and plaintive inquires about the (non)progress of my work. This chapter is dedicated to you.
In efforts to put this chapter out quickly, I am going to just briefly answer some questions that I have seen come up. First of all, in case any of you are wondering, this story is set in the early French empire. Think… 'Ever after.'
Also, I do know that Misao's hair is red. I should, I wrote it. It will be explained I promise! No squirming until then.
Thirdly, this piece is intended to be a comedy so I will be using the extremes of situations.
And last but not least. I do love Tomoe. I think she is a wonderfully complex character. BUT! This piece is supposed to read like a fairytale. The way I approach fanfiction is very much like a movie script. The canon universe is my cast of actors that I choose from. They may or may not reflect who they are in the real story. This I apologize for—but there's no getting around it. Tomoe is evilly evil villainess in this story. Not because I hate her, misunderstand her, or think Kaoru is better for Kenshin. I used her because she is the other obvious love interest. Megumi does not have enough "oomph" because Kenshin never liked Megumi.
Until next time. A big thank you to everyone, and forgive the laziness—I will respond to you all individually next chapter I promise!