Akazukin Cha Cha: An Ultimatum
Disclaimer: I don't own Akazukin Cha Cha.
Note: Thank you for the kind comments and for being patient with me! I have to say your comments really serve as a big inspiration to push through with this story! So as not to disappoint you guys, here's another doze~
Chapter VI: Changing Odds
"Please marry me, Ms. Dorothy!"
The man was out of his mind, Seravi concluded to himself as he rubbed absentmindedly at the tingling hair on his arms. Seated at his usual place in the small dining table, he took a sip of tea as he scrutinized the questionable man seated comfortably across him.
The man, who introduced himself as Clovis, looked a lot like the kids' teacher Mr. Barabara Man, except this one has dark brown hair and has thin, silver-rimmed glasses. From the looks, he seemed an intelligent, decent sort. Dressed up in a fine, navy blue long sleeves polo shirt paired with an ivory striped tie, he looked every bit like a successful professional.
But looks can be deceiving, he silently countered. He had too many encounters with seemingly harmless men and women who turned out to be Daimon's henchmen in the past. And his gut feel, which more often than not is accurate, told him that the man's presence in that shop at that moment in time wasn't a coincidence.
Could he be after Dorothy's family inheritance? Marrying an heiress would surely solve a lot of problems, wouldn't it?
"So you were in the shop to look for Ms. Dorothy?" he heard Cha-Cha ask, his thoughts drawn back to the current conversation, which from the question alone, seem to be about the accident.
Clovis nodded, "I was told by the housekeeper at her residence that she was going to a famous magician's shop, so I decided to look for her there."
Got you now, Seravi thought smugly, his eyes intent and sharp, "Oh so you know magic, Mr. Clovis?"
"You do?" Dorothy seconded. Her expression too hopeful by Seravi's opinion.
The man sheepishly grinned, "unfortunately no, Ms. Dorothy," and at her crestfallen expression, he immediately countered, "well actually there was a time I did try to learn…but I soon realized it wasn't my cup of tea, so I gave up. But I remember that shop though, so I knew which shop the housekeeper was referring to."
The idea that someone, an adult at that, knows magic at the same level as theirs had all but made the children more ecstatic. All at once they began drilling him questions about the spells he had tried and began sharing experiences.
Too bad the man isn't a magician, Seravi reflected as he listen to them talk. It would be easier to measure a magician's character and strength from the magic he uses. Never mind the fact that he, being the greatest magician, would have the obvious home court advantage. Not that he's trying to compete with the man, nothing like that at all, he assured himself.
As he lifted his cup for another sip of tea, his eyes caught sight of Dorothy's soft smile as she quietly watch the ongoing conversation from beside him. It looked like she was enjoying herself, so at ease and comfortable around that new guy.
A few minutes of talk and her normal aloofness towards strangers was suddenly gone?
Could she be starting to like him?
Suddenly his hands were clammy and sweaty. He could feel cold sweat bead his hairline and back. He had never felt like this before.
"So why were you looking for Dorothy?" he uncharacteristically butted in.
The rude interruption, as was intended, stopped the increasingly fervent conversation, as well as killing the happy, lighthearted mood. The children were all surprised, their eyes and attention all on him. Dorothy apparently was displeased, the deep frown marring her forehead a clear indication.
"I'm sorry," he found himself saying involuntarily, as he too was surprised with his unbecoming behavior, "I'm just curious why you're here with us."
Clovis flushed and cleared his throat, his fingers entwined together on the table with thumbs playing against each other, "well actually I was looking for Ms. Dorothy to apologize."
"To apologize, you say?" Dorothy asked puzzledly.
Clovis turned to her and nodded remorsefully, "I owe you a great apology, Ms. Dorothy, and I know it's unforgiveable, but I really hope you'd still give me a second chance."
Everybody turned to look at Dorothy, who at the moment was staring blankly at Clovis.
"What did he do to you, Dorothy?" Seravi finally blurted out, his curiosity piqued.
"I don't know!" Dorothy replied in pure confusion.
At that, Clovis frowned with equal puzzlement, "Ms. Dorothy, had you not received my letter?"
"What letter?" Dorothy asked.
"The letter…" Clovis began hesitantly, "that explained my reason for not being able to meet you on time…and that requested for your forgiveness and a chance for another arrangement?"
"That would mean…" Shiine instinctively placed his right knuckle under his chin while his left arm supported the right elbow. a position he always does while analyzing, "that you had a date with Teacher Dorothy!"
Clovis nodded while Dorothy shook her head. Then both looked at each other questioningly.
"Ms. Dorothy, we were supposed to have lunch last week, remember?" Clovis enunciated carefully, as if trying to jolt back the memory of a patient with amnesia.
"I do not know what you are talking about!" Dorothy gritted through her teeth in frustration, "I don't even know you!"
"I understand you may not recognize me, after all I wasn't able to meet you then. But you should be able to recall my name? Surely your mother or servant must have mentioned my name?" Clovis exclaimed in disbelief.
Dorothy looked at him squarely, her patience growing thin. "I assure you, Mr. Clovis, if I know you I wouldn't lie. And I do not recall a date with a complete stranger. And I absolutely, definitely do not recall a letter from a certain Mr. Clovis!"
"There must be some kind of misunderstanding," Seravi intervened calmly and looked at Clovis, "Sir, are you sure you were suppose to meet Dorothy and not some other lady?"
"Yes!" Clovis replied confidently, "I was going to have lunch with her at the Chinese restaurant in town last week."
Chinese restaurant? Lunch? Last week? Seravi's heart skipped a beat.
"Hey," Riiya interjected, "isn't the restaurant we went to last week a Chinese restaurant?"
"Yes, I remember," Cha-Cha answered with a pointing finger to her temple, trying to recollect the event.
Dorothy humphed and crossed her arms, "well the last time I stepped into a Chinese restaurant was during that awful match—"
Her eyes suddenly grew wide with understanding. The matchmaking! Now that she thought about it, there was one more suitor which she wasn't able to meet. The man was late and when she went to the washroom to freshen up, she saw Seravi and-well never mind that, Dorothy mentally erased the scene as she blushed slightly. Anyway after that, she went home and locked herself up in the room…a letter…yes, there was a day when a maid entered and informed her of a letter for her. She was too distraught then to even care about a letter from a suitor. She didn't even bother listening from whom it came from. Just the mention of the eventful day was enough to block off anything related to it.
She turned to look at Seravi, who was returning her gaze with knowing eyes. Apparently, he had figured it all out too.
She swallowed hard and looked at Clovis, her voice losing its haughty edge, "you…you're the last suitor during the matchmaking?"
"Oh you remember now!" Clovis exclaimed happily, "and the letter?"
Dorothy grimaced, "now that I have thought about it, there was a letter that arrived a few days after that. But I didn't know from whom and wasn't able to read it."
"You weren't able to read it!" Clovis cried out happily, "I was so worried that you were so angry as to ignore my apology and would never want to meet me again. That's why after a week of waiting and you haven't responded, I decided to personally look for you and ask for a second chance."
"Ah…I see," Dorothy remarked falteringly.
"But how did you know what Dorothy looks like?" Seravi asked intelligently, "you haven't met her before, have you?"
Clovis sat back confidently, his shoulders wide and straight, "That was easy. When I looked for her in her residence, I asked what she looked like before going on to find her."
"How did they describe her?" Cha-Cha asked.
Proudly, Clovis declared, "A beautiful angel with pink hair and purple eyes."
After a few seconds of pause, he shifted his glance to his companions and saw Dorothy flushing bright while the others tried to muffle their giggles and chuckles.
Did he say something wrong?
Finally Riiya gave in and laughed out loud, followed by Cha-Cha, and Shiine who really tried hard not to laugh. Seravi was the only one who was able to hold back, with his sleeves over his lips and chuckling under his breath.
Dorothy, who tried to keep her embarrassment, returned defensively, "stop laughing! It is true! And I am glad somebody can actually see me as the beautiful lady that I am!"
As the laughter subsided to soft giggles, Clovis decided to ignore the baffling reactions of her companions and went down on his knee in front of Dorothy, "Yes my lady, you are beautiful, an angel in my heart! And it would be a great honor to have you as my bride. Please marry me, Ms. Dorothy!"
"Oh dear," was the first thing Dorothy was able to say.
Seravi, whose smile was completely wiped away, had an end of his lips twitching, "you might want to reconsider your options, my good man."
"What do you mean?"
Seravi sighed, "Let's just say I wouldn't do that if I were you."
"Oh really?" Dorothy interrupted in her usual haughty tone, "I seem to remember hearing that line sometime before…from a short, lovesick, green-haired boy."
Seravi made a ridiculously fake, sarcastic laugh, his eyes shooting daggers at her, "I'm sure that boy was not himself then. I believe he wised up quite well as he grew up."
"You mean he grew a lot more conceited," Dorothy lifted one perfectly arched eyebrow, "narcissistic even."
A nerve by his temple twitched furiously, "Well, the girl was no better. She even dyed her hair a hideous pink."
"My hair is not hideous!" Dorothy exploded, her chair falling back as she stood abruptly.
Seravi merely lifted cool eyes, "Oh pardon me, miss. Was that you? How rude of me to speak of the truth in your presence."
In an instant, the air was charged with dangerous tension. A fireball floating about. A force field fenced in place. The table and children backed away several feet away. Clovis found himself standing a few feet apart from Dorothy, who is now standing face to face with Seravi, ready for battle.
"Move away, sir. You're about to see a real dragon lady in action. You might want to reevaluate your opinion of your so-called angel." Seravi remarked cajolingly, his eyes not leaving Dorothy's fiery ones.
"But I find Ms. Dorothy's pink hair quite gorgeous," Clovis stated nervously.
"What did you say?" Dorothy asked in a rough whisper.
Clovis shrugged, "I find your pink hair fascinating. I think it's perfect for you."
At that, the tension instantly died down. The fireball disappeared and the force field was gone. Everyone was overwhelmed with shock and disbelief, even Dorothy herself.
For as long as the children could remember, Dorothy's hair had been a subject of ridicule, a petty joke between their masters. Although they personally don't think pink hair looks bad, but due to Seravi's influence, they had never regarded it as something beautiful either. And now that there is somebody who boldly claims it fascinating…
"I don't think things look good for Mr. Seravi," Shiine whispered to his friends worriedly.
"You seem happy," Seravi remarked as he entered the kitchen.
"Yes I am," Dorothy answered cheerfully, not turning her back to face him.
With a wave of a hand, kitchenware and dirty dishes routinely lined up for their washing. Water and soap dutifully began their work.
"Because of Mr. Clovis?"
"You could say that," she replied hesitantly.
"You like him just because he likes your pink hair?" It came out more as a statement than a question.
"Of course not, dear," Dorothy denied laughingly, "well I have to admit I am flattered about it. After all those years of you ridiculing my hair, there's finally someone who thinks it makes me more beautiful."
Seravi found himself unable to refute that statement. After all, it was true that he ridiculed her hair, for years in fact, and much to his chagrin, it is also true that there's now someone who admits to liking pink hair on her, which by the way really shook him up. He had been making fun of her for so long that he took it for granted that outside their little world, she will be seen as the woman she is, which is beautiful, blonde or pink.
Dorothy turned around at her companion's continued silence. Sadness ached at her heart as she saw the inner struggle within his eyes. Oh Seravi.
How she wished things were different. But the truth of the matter is, she had also wanted this. Maybe it was her father at first, but deep in her heart she knew her father only served as a catalyst, had only woken her up to the hard reality. And reality is indeed cruel. Reality is, she and Seravi would never be together.
Maybe this is all for the best, she thought. They had great times, wonderful memories she'll cherish forever. Times when they were happy as friends. And it might be better to just treasure that friendship. It's all for the best.
Alright Dorothy, she told herself with a deep intake of breath, be strong.
"Come now, Seravi," Dorothy cajoled lightly, "does it hurt that much to admit I'm beautiful?"
Seravi lifted serious green eyes to her lighthearted purple ones, "I never once seriously thought you're not."
Something about the gravity of his stare made it difficult to breathe. She quickly turned around and answered sarcastically, "yes of course, you say it all the time."
With another wave of her hand, the clean kitchenware and dishes spinned in the air, the water sifted out and automatically flowing back to the sink.
"You know I don't mean it," he countered.
"Frankly," Dorothy replied as she kept her gaze to the chore, "I don't know what you mean and don't mean anymore."
"Teacher Dorothy," Shiine peeked through the door.
"Yes dear?" Dorothy turned and smiled readily.
He gave a solemn look at Seravi first, before answering, "Mr. Clovis' limousine is waiting outside, and he's asking if we could ride with him."
"Tell him I'll be out in a minute, dear."
"Yes, Teacher Dorothy," Shiine dutifully replied and slid out.
"You're not serious about him, are you?" a hint of exasperation in his voice.
Dorothy decided to not answer that question. She flipped her hand at the sides and the kitchen drawers opened, and then she pointed at the awaiting clean wares and moved to point at the drawers. The clean wares immediately flew to their proper places in the drawers.
Done with chores, Dorothy turned to leave the kitchen. Seravi held up a hand to block her way.
Dorothy placed her hands on her hips and frowned at him, "what are you doing, Seravi?"
"You don't consider it rude to leave a sincere question unanswered?" he asked frustratingly.
Funny how he could still sound so calm when he's frustrated, she noted.
"Fine," she answered flippantly, "ask me again."
Seravi crossed his arms, "I'm asking you if you're serious about him."
"And if I am?"
"You don't even know him!" he countered almost furiously.
"Then this is the perfect time to get to know him," Dorothy answered back.
"He is hiding something, Dorothy. I sense it."
Seeing the worry in his eyes, Dorothy went still for a moment. She had always admired Seravi's accurate instincts, so she normally takes heed of his advice. However this time…
"Then I shall take every care, thank you for your concern."
"The man is not trustworthy. And shallow I might add. He wanted to marry you just because he finds you beautiful!" he pointed out as a matter of fact.
"Do not be a hypocrite, Seravi. You proposed before with the exact same reason." She returned dryly.
"I-" at her raised eyebrow, he faltered. But with a stubborn glint, he complained, "I don't like him."
"You're not the one he likes!" she returned irritably.
"Why do you insist in giving him a chance?" he finally blurted out.
"If not for anything else, I'll go out with him simply because he likes my pink hair. There! Does that satisfy you?" Dorothy answered impatiently.
And without waiting for his response, she stormed out of the kitchen.