Title: Princess

Series: Final Fantasy VII

Characters: Yuffie, Marlene, Red XIII

Summary: Yuffie baby-sits Marlene.

Rating: G. Painfully G, except for one remark on Yuffie's part.

Feedback: Please?

Notes: Written for fanfic100 on LJ.

"Pass me the brown, please."

Yuffie looked through her ebony fringe at seven-year-old Marlene. "I'm using it," she protested, already irritable from being cramped into a child-sized table. At seventeen, she was still slight and limber, but the pink plastic table was even too small for the pony-tailed child across from her. How had she ended up baby-sitting? She had gone to see how Barrett was doing with Elmyra, only to encounter Red. Then they left to go see the regentrification that was in progress, Elmyra calmly asking her to keep an eye on Marlene. She did not terribly mind – Marlene was hardly a handful, probably not even a pinch – but she idly started wandering what else she could have spent her day doing.

Marlene set her crayon down next to her coloring book, looking intently at the young woman. "But, Miss Yuffie, I need it."

Yuffie rolled her eyes dramatically, and put the last touches on the tree she was filling in. "Here, then." She held out the worn-down crayon; the wrapper had been long ago peeled off and it left faint marks on her hands. "By the way, it's not brown. It's chestnut." Marlene looked confused for a moment, then settled for simply thanking Yuffie. "Give me the purple."

"Here go!" Marlene chirped, putting the requested hue on the edge of Yuffie's torn-out page. Yuffie bowed her head in recognition, an old custom she had never quite managed to shake. "Miss Yuffie? Why don't you wear shoes when you're inside?"

Yuffie shrugged. How could you explain traditions and customs to a kid? "It's what we do where I'm from." She answered.


"It's a sign of respect."

Marlene's eyebrows lowered in a frown. "Why?"

"It's to protect the tatami ­– that's the mats we put on the floor. And it leaves bad luck outside."

Another blank look.

"It's so if you step in Chocobo poop, it won't come inside with you."

"Oh! What else do you do there?"

Yuffie colored idly for a moment. "Well-"

She was almost immediately cut off by the young girl's enthusiasm. "Do you go to balls and ride in carriages with princes?"

The idea struck Yuffie as genuinely funny, and she immediately pictured herself bogged down by a balloon-skirted dress the same color as Marlene's "Tickle me Pink" crayon. The frilled, beribboned image made her laugh. "What gives you that idea?"

"Nanaki said you were a princess." There was something akin to admiration in the girl's tone.

"Well…" Yuffie deliberated for a moment. "I am, kind of. I mean, my dad's a king – " Even though there's no longer an empire. "And I'm going to be queen –" In name only. "One day. So you can go tell all you friends that you watched Mulan and colored inside the lines with a real-life princess."

"Somehow, Lady Kisaragi, I'm not surprised to find out that you spent your afternoon coloring in the lines." The languid voice drifted in from the doorway.

"Hey, Red." Yuffie greeted, not bothering to look up.

"'Naki!" Marlene cried, jarring the table and kicking Yuffie in the shin in her haste as she scrambled to her feet. The girl ran across the room, flinging her arms around his neck, burying her cheek in his matted crimson fur.

"Does she do this for you too?" Nanaki – who Yuffie would always think of as Red – inquired mildly. There was the slightest bristle in his tone, a hint of the fighting creature beneath, but they both knew he would tolerate Marlene's petting.

"No, I get a decent hug. She tackles Tifa like that, though… only she can't exactly rub her face in Tifa's fur, can she?" Yuffie wrinkled her nose. "Ew. Dirty."

"What's dirty?" Marlene wanted to know, pulling her face from Red's scruff.

"Nothing." The creature gently extracted himself. "What are you drawing?"

"A picture for Miss Yuffie 'cause she's a princess. I colored a picture of her prince for her."

"I've got a prince?"

"Yeah, but you don't know it yet."

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