Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass or the story of Cinderella. They belong to their respective owners.
Firstly, apologies to Warangel88 for posting this fic first without consulting you even though I was the one who requested the fic and now, unable to resist the tem[ptation, ended up writing it myself. Sorry if it clashes, in any part, with your Cinderella fic.
Secondly, apologies to my beta-readers. I'm sorry I never asked for your opinion on this story and for not letting you read and correct it first. It's not because you're no good. In fact, you're so brilliant I need sunglasses just to look at you! But I really want to test myself with this and is willing to grovel at your very feet for forgiveness just if you'll let me try this.
Chapter One – Cinderella's Beginning
Once upon a time, I was a sweet and charming child. I was loved by all who met me. I was timid and so soft-spoken that my parents forever teased me of never being able to run a household with such a small voice. They showered me with gifts, love and affection – so much that, when I think back now, I cannot help but wonder if it was all a dream for surely it was impossible to have such a sweet, sugary life.
It most certainly must be a dream for it shattered at the blink of an eye. My father died, my mother grieved and unable to protect us alone, she, in her confused and desperate state, married another man in hopes of at least giving me a semi-stable household to live in.
"This is all I can do for you," she whispered to me on her deathbed and then swiftly departed and joined my father somewhere far away.
From then on, my step-father ruled the house and I was stripped of everything from my bedroom to my dresses to my dolls. The only item I kept from my innocent childhood was the small red bird that my father got from a nun on one of the business trips.
Now, many years on, I sleep in my tiny room with the servants and wear clothes that were so bland and coarse that it would scratch my young innocent self's skin had I placed them on her shoulders.
My first years as a servant consisted of nothing else but tears, whimpering, trembling from terror and wondering what I did wrong to be punished like this. I didn't understand why I had to turn my hands from delicate soft silk to the hard dry skin that now covered it. I didn't understand why I was forced, kicking and screaming, to dunk my hair into black dye simply because my step-father found my green locks to hurtful for the eyes.
Then, a few years on, when the memories of my innocent and sweet childhood became so different from my current life that it seemed to be a different life altogether, I grew tired, lazy and accepted it. Now, I just try to make life as easy as possible. I do everything as my step-father ordered.
He demand his marble staircase cleaned and polished? I do exactly that but what he doesn't know is that where his eyes don't see and his fingers don't touch, I skipped them out – it was too much of a chore to scrub every crevice when I could simply hide it with a potted plant or cleverly placed rug.
"C.C.," he would bellow, chin hiding behind a fan and eyes regarding me with distaste. He called me that name for so long that I could not even phantom ever being called another name… speaking of which… what was my name anyway?
"Don't stand there staring at nothing. Hurry and clear these dishes away. I have guests coming this afternoon." So I stopped trying to remember my name and started clearing the dishes.
"Hm?" I would say as I stack plates on top of each other at the rate of a snail crossing a garden, "this afternoon? Then what is the rush, it is only morning still. That means I have a few hours to do this."
My step-father would then snap his fan shut and, with an irritated hiss, crack the fan across my arm thus creating another new bruise for me to examine later on in the day. I would shrug, gathered the rest of the dishes and make my way out of the dining room without so much as a whimper. One would wonder why I dare or made the effort of talking to my step-father in such way when I was only going to be punished for it. Yet, when I was going to be punish for lesser things anyway, why should I bother to seal my lips?
It's only a bruise. It's not like it will not heal over and it's not like I can escape the life of a servant just by silencing my words. So why bother? Keeping control over my words is such a tiresome chore and as I said, I have grown lazy over the years and getting more so with each passing year. At least talking back to my step-father kept me entertained just by seeing how many different expressions he could make.
Hm? What's this? I have spoken for so long yet I haven't told you who I am? Hn, easily rectified.
I am C.C., a servant, a maid, a lowly being in this household that's made up of my step-father, his daughter, a cook and a coachman who also doubles as a bodyguard and handyman when things break.
My hair was green as lime and felt as soft as a chick's downy feathers but, as I mentioned before, my step-father disliked it and dunked it in black dye so that now, with the lack of proper care and flowery-scented hair products, it's dull and rough on the fingers. Sometimes when the dye was starting to wash out and the green started showing, I would smother it in soot and ashes just so that I don't have to go through that bothersome ordeal of shoving my head in the swirling black waters of the dye.
Now, surely that was enough of a description of me. Eh? What? My step-father? So many questions, you have!
He's a man of oriental origins and who specialises in importing oriental furniture and accessories. What of his name? Gao Hai, of course! I'm sure you must have heard of his name or at least remember his face, which is rather hard to forget for it is pale as the moon and he wanders around wearing brightly coloured robes with his lower half of his face hidden behind a fan. His voice is pitched strangely and in the past, when I was a child, I wondered if my mother married a man or a woman.
I assume you would like to know the rest of the household then? Hm, you are truly a curious being and I am truly far too tired to explain but I guess I'll oblige just this once.
There is Xianglin the cook and Xingke the stableman, both of who were brought over from China when my step-sister came to live with us. There use to be a live-in gardener as well. His name was Mao and he followed me around like a duckling so I grew fond of him and allowed him to rest his head on my lap as we sat in the garden and watch the sun shine on the rhododendrons. Then one day, out of the blue, he came to me early in the morning when I barely even escaped dreamland yet.
"C.C., I'm going to run away and make a fortune. Then I'll come back even richer than Gao Hai to marry you," he said and then before I could reply, he walked away and never came back to the house.
Gao Hai was very angry and had struck on me more than usual with his hand. I knew Mao was trouble! Had I known he would have made be punished so badly, I would never had let him put his head on my lap!
The next day, Gao Hai found a new gardener who came round every two days to care for the plants but he was a man with a face and personality that screamed to be ignored no matter how chatty he was. One suspected that he simply loved the sound of his own voice for he never shut up. There are mornings when I come down the stairs, ready for another day of chores and would hear an annoying off-key voice singing in the garden. I would go 'aa, Tamaki is here today. I really must remember to buy earplugs one day.'
Let's see, the gardener, the stableman and the cook. Who else… aa yes, my step-sister.
She was like a beautiful china doll that appeared one day, hiding behind a large suitcase and shivering like a scared rabbit. Her name was Lihua but Gao Hai like to call her his little Tianzi which made it awfully confusing during the first week especially when my step-father insisted that we address her as such too. Xianglin and Xingke are fiercely loyal to the child for some unknown reason. She had them wrapped about those delicate fingers of her and had she ever asked them to jump, they would immediately respond 'how high?' whilst halfway to the ceiling.
Now I know you must shiver at the thought of Gao Hai being the father of such a timid little rabbit so rest assured that I have been told they were not related. Little Tianzi was adopted by him and one cannot blame Gao Hai. She had such long pale hair and skin, an awfully shy nature and large eyes that stare up so innocently - how can you possibly resist her?
Hmm, I hope that was enough of a description of my life for you because, frankly, I'm getting rather tired of talking about it. Shall we change to a better subject? Not that I'm going to give you a say in the matter anyway… Unless! Unless you can get me one of those flatbreads with tomato sauce and cheese smear on top that the new bakery at the end of the road offers. I only tried them once as a free sample and I am most positively hooked on them now. I wonder if there are other toppings for them…
Now, look what you have done! I am salivating at the very thought of those flatbreads now! I must go buy some at once. I'm sure Xianglin must have something she need from the market. I shall it as an excuse to escape this house for a while.
Gao Hai has released my bird! My poor like Geass cannot survive outside by itself! I knew venturing out of the house to buy the flatbread was a mistake! This was your entire fault, you know that. Had you not made me think of that flatbread (which I learnt was actually called 'pizza'), I wouldn't have gone out of the house and Gao Hai wouldn't let my bird escape. Hm, oh so troublesome. In fact, I think I am so very 'sick with worry' that I think I need another one of these pizzas to calm myself down now.
Three days and my little Geass still have not returned and my purse does not have enough money for another pizza! The horror! You are the most despicable being, you know. This is your fault entirely, completely and most certainly.
Oh! Geass came back. Well, there's a surprise. I didn't think it'll come back and was starting to rejoice the fact that I don't have to feed him and clean out his cage anymore. Hnnn, he (I am most certain he's a he) came back so I guess I'll have to find that cage again. So bothersome, especially after I spent all the time polishing it and now it's going to be covered with bird poo again.
I shall go fetch the cage immediately and- ara? Why are you looking at me so impatiently, Xingke? Oh very well, I shall take Geass off your hands now. Men are such impatient creatures.
"Thank you, where was he?" I asked.
He shrugged and replied, "He flew into the garden this morning; Tamaki was trying to have him for breakfast."
"Thank you for saving him," I replied and walked away with Geass standing in on my hand. I think this call for a celebratory pizza. I wonder if Xianglin would mind lending me some money as I'm mostly penniless until the next payday which and, since Gao Hai never liked keeping track of trivial things such as paydays, who knows when that would be.
Xianglin was not in an accommodating mood today. Gao Hai had officially banned me from helping her in the kitchen.
"I will not have my dinner smelling like mops!" he boomed, fan fluttering at like a bird desperately flapping its wings to stay afloat.
"Really? The entire house smells like mops (how else can you get as sparkly floor as this without using a mop?) and you didn't complain so naturally I would have thought you wouldn't mind the dinner being so scented as well," I cleverly replied whilst pulling a tray of biscuits from the oven.
There goes the snap of his fan and the crack of it on my left shoulder. It made my biscuits scatter onto the floor and Xianglin having to re-bake the lot.
I gathered up the dirty biscuits (it's such a waste to throw the biscuits away simply because they touched the floor for two seconds) and quickly retire to the laundry room where I can be out of Xianglin's glaring range.
Biting into my biscuits, I set Geass on the windowsill, broke some crumbs for him then started working on some clothes that were in desperate need of repair.
Hmm, the biscuits are not fluffy enough in texture. I must warn Xianglin of it next time when she's in a better mood. Oh a dress of Miss Tianzi's!
The young miss have such small hips which is natural since she is but a child but one cannot help but envy the petite-ness of little girls and silently wish you were that age again.
What's this? Here, I was nibbling on a biscuit whilst trying to darn a stocking and I noticed Geass had something strapped to his leg. I set down the biscuit and the stocking, pin the needle back into its pin cushion and coaxed my little red bird over.
He chirped and hopped onto my knee where I proceed to extract that little bit of paper tied onto his leg. Who dared turned my precious bird into a messenger pigeon?
To the owner of this bird,
A sincerest apologies for your bird's delayed return. My sister had unknowingly captured it believing it was a wild unknown breed. She had it in her care for a few days, charmed by its handsome red coat until I happen upon noticing the ribbon that was on its neck. I know not if it was placed there intentionally for an owner to recognise the bird or if it was a childish passing whim of a stray child in the street. I also know not if the bird knew his way back but I shall attach this note on regardless. Many apologies for the worry it must have caused you.
Oh such tiny writing! My eyes hurt. I blinked them rapidly for a while and then reread the note. How could anybody fit so much writing on such small space? I turned the note around in my hands, pondering over the excessively swirly handwriting.
Hmm…I think I will need to ponder over this over a pizza. Oh no no. I am most certainly not just using any excuse possible to eat pizza- most certainly not, I assure you. It is just that I think better when the cheesy toppings melt in my mouth and when the tang of the tomato sauce blend with the crisp floury base that was the flatbread. Is it a flatbread? It doesn't look like any flatbread I have ever witness before…Hmm more things to ponder over with pizza.
Oh wait, I have no money and Xianglin refuse to lend me any. Oh sigh! I guess I shall just have to continue nibbling on these biscuits and imagine them as pizza.
Xingke! Maybe I will have money for pizza after all.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
What's one of the main reasons I have for wanting to write this fic? Answer- the image of Gao Hai being the stepmother/father figure is too absurd to not be written.
Comments will be appreciated and do feel free to be as critical as you like/wish/can, it will be much loved.