The Amelioration

Prologue: Enamoured by Pictures You Paint

The little princess of the Reinsworth house suppressed a smile as her mother shoved the unwilling recipient of her daughter's sudden request into the small barber shop.

A day in town had sounded rather appealing after days in the studious atmosphere of Pandora. However, Xerxes Break was coming to regret his decisions more each second. At the moment, the young daughter of his Mistress Shelly Reinsworth had insisted upon his getting a haircut while she noticed a small barber shop their carriage had just passed. Much to his sudden regret, Shelly Reinsworth had agreed to the frivolous desire on the confession that her daughter thought he hid behind it like a scared child who hides behind draperies. Of course this was hardly how Xerxes thought of his hair, it was merely a victim of his personality.

"Please, leave some fringe for his eye though." Sharon was explaining to the startled hairdresser. Xerxes let out a sigh of defeat; it seemed he couldn't escape from this one. "Xarks-nii, don't look so afraid, cutting your hair doesn't hurt." The small girl- despite all her uncanny intelligence for her age- seemed to think his expression came of fear of pain. 'Hardly,' he thought smugly. Yet the girl's naïve reasoning cause his face to split in a grin.

"How would you know? It doesn't look like you've had your hair cut." He teased.

"You're silly, Xarks-nii. Your hair is made of the same material as your fingernails and you've cut them haven't you?" Damn, so much for childish ignorance.

By the end of the Reinsworths' excursion Xerxes was thoroughly worn to the bone from the mental stimulation the person that was Sharon Reinsworth provided. A knock on the door to the servant's quarters couldn't even move him from the restful position he'd taken up on the fluffy plum coloured sofa. The knock became more insistent, and Xerxes couldn't understand why they didn't just open the door. A too-skinny serving maid rushed past him, her thin ash-blonde hair coming out of its tight bun from the late hour. "Mistress Sharon!" A new swirl of fair hair blurred its way into Xerxes slimmed line of vision. His surprise was held at bay by his weariness and he closed his eye.

"Evening, Little Princess." He managed while waving an arm in casual greeting. "Which of your wills do you wish me to fulfill in this state?" Much to Xerxes' concern Sharon didn't answer. It occurred to him perhaps he was missing some nonverbal communication and his eye returned to its former information gathering position. His young mistress stood at his side, face hidden by her curtain of bangs- the hypocrite.

"I-i wanted to apologise at my actions earlier. Since I probably hurt 's feelings. I'm sorry and I don't want you to avoid me. I promise I won't make such requests again." A single tear coursing its way into his vision caused Xerxes to sit up. The apology felt so formal to him that Xerxes was unable to reply at first.

"Miss Sharon, I'm not angry," he explained, "You've merely exhausted me." The servant flopped back against the cushions to prove his point.

"How ungraceful. Scoot over." Sharon ordered, a clean sternness returning to her voice. When he didn't comply, she pushed his feet off the arm and onto the floor. The new awkward posture caused the couch's attendant to straighten once more. "I'm glad I met you, Xarks-nii," she confessed while pulling her knees to her chest and leaning opposite him. "I like how you talk to me."

"Then I'll talk whenever you like. I'm glad to have pleased you so simply." Xerxes replied automatically. Sharon rubbed her eyes with a knuckle. "Now, however, it seems neither of us is in much condition for a chat," his head drooped, "Perhaps tomorrow if you desire..." Xerxes' vision blurred and he leaned against the sofa's unoccupied arm. " 'Night, Princess."

"Xerxes!" Sharon crawled to face him on the furniture. "Don't fall asleep yet!" She protested shaking his arm. He cracked open his eye.

"I still haven't fulfilled your day's desires? Your mother will scold you for being up so late." He attempted to free his sleeve of her fingers.

"I can't sleep." She feigned.

"Yes you can, it's very easy I assure you." He answered as she stifled a yawn. "Come, if I can't rid you of my presence I'll escort you back to your chamber if it suites your wishes."

"Shut up. Escort me back?" she laughed at the suggestion, "You can't even muster the strength to get off this couch."

"Ahem," the blonde serving maid who had allowed her mistress to enter stood forebodingly before them. "Young Mistress, I advise you return to bed. If you need a servant in the middle of the night you should send for one properly."

"Let her off, Anne." Xerxes defended. Sharon took his hand and pulled him up. "Oh please not another step, Princess," he complained, only half exaggerating. "You're going to take me back."

"Yes, you will escort her back or Lady Shelly will certainly hear of this." Anne threatened, a smirk of humour on her strict features.

"Of course, Princess, ma'am." He took a candle from the table and headed for the door Sharon close behind him.

"Thanks, Xarks-nii," she whispered as soon as they entered the dark corridor.

"Surely you're aware it's my head that crazy maid's after, not yours. Since I've been here I can't seem to get her eyes off my work." The man sighed, clearly disturbed at the thought of being watched. In the flickering dimness Sharon grinned.

"She just wants to make sure you adjust well." Instead of continuing what would become an endless conversation, Xerxes took his mistress's hand and led her up the stairs, pausing to catch her as she tripped either on one of the steps or because of her rapidly failing coordination.

"Honestly, Princess.." he complained as they arrived in her quarters, "You'll be the death of me." She huffed and stood in front of her looking glass while a befuddled lady in waiting took down her hair from its precariously positioned braids atop her head. Watching him in the mirror she commented,

"You can go back now." He didn't stir from her chaise. The maid put the rest of the pins in the vanity's drawer and ushered her behind the changing screen.

"I'm asleep." Came the delayed response. Regardless of his utter lack of logic, Sharon laughed. She would be forever enamoured by the pictures he painted in her life.