AN Just one thing I want to note at the start! I am totally unsure about the tone of this fanfic. It's _emo_, about a game and characters that are totally non-conspicuous. The rape and Cube's rescuings in the game are very downplayed, so by stretching and analysing those events I may have completely pulled him out of character.I'm all for realism, but not so much for melodrama. I may re-edit the crap out of this to make them sound less like idiots. /AN
Papa had just called Olive downstairs to inform her that the dragon boy's grandfather had come to ask him for her hand. He told her that he needed time to decide.
So little big Olive lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. She felt numb. She would have cried, and she knew she would eventually, but at that moment she felt as if a hole had been punched into her heart. There was only nothingness.
Papa was a caring man, in his own way. Since she was little, he'd have her do grown men's work. It wasn't beyond him to give her hand away, if he believed it was the best for her.
And the dragon family had magic and magic meant power; she'd never have to work again. This was a good thing, surely.
But surely Papa would ask the butler for advice. She desperatly grabbed at the hope that he would talk her father out of it. He had never betrayed her, not with intention. The butler. Cube. He would protect her. He always did. He would save her, she told herself she was certain of it.
Fear and doubt washed over her. What if he didn't?
The dragon boy, who held an infatuation on her, was far too young to know what real love was. To him Olive was a pretty face, a young woman like any other he could fall in and out of love at any moment. He put her on a pedestral. She hated that.
He knew all her flaws and all her virtues. He'd seen her in all her most humiliating moments, and in her best. He knew most of the bad things she had ever done, and knew her ugliest sides. He never blinked an eye about any of it. He was always there, with undying, unjudgemental loyalty, protection, and love.
There was faint knocking at the door. She woke from a shallow, dreamless slumber. Olive had fallen asleep without noticing. From the ammount of light streaming into the room, it appeared to be late afternoon.
"Come in," she said groggily, sitting on the bed and flattening her dress.
Cube's dark brown face peered from behind the door. Olive's heart skipped a beat, she wanted to fly up and hold him and beg him to help her. To save her.
He looked up at her for a moment, then back down at his tray, careful not to spill. His expression was unmistakeable, stamped with concern. The tray was laden with biscuits, a big ceramic teapot, and two teacups. Two teacups meant he wanted to talk.
He laid the tray on the bedside table and went back to close the door. All this was done with the minimum ammount of sound. It was as if Olive was on her deathbed.
Cube poured tea and she scooted over to give him room on her bed to sit.
She was worried; he was unusually quiet. Feeling fear so great that it made her face sting, she summoned her strengh to break the silence first: "What did Papa say?"
He managed a faint smile, avoiding her gaze.
"Master and I spoke about the dragon youth's visit."
Olive's heart sunk.
"He… Thinks you'd be happier if you had a husband like him to take care of you".
Her face exploded with heat, and her eyes stung with the incoming tears. She stiffled a sob with her hand, eyes locked on her feet. Cube tensed, and quickly added: "But he has not yet decided."
He forced a smile and glance at her face. She noticed that one side of his face was bruised, which he had tried to conceal with his jet-black hair.
Cube quickly looked away. "Master and I argued. It was my fault. He asked me for an opinion, not a demand. I should have known my place."
Olive could have died. She burst into tears.
Papa had hit Cube because he tried to protect her. He had had tried to talk Papa out of the idea… He had tried to save her.
"Hey, hey… It's quite alright. I'm here.", he said, tugging gently at her arm and shuffling back, indicating she could lay on his lap if she needed. Olive accepted the offer, and he reached for a hankerchief from the tray and passed it to her.
"Pa-pa-woul-dn't-dare-touch-you", she managed to say between sobs, clinging to the hankerchief for the sake of having something to hold on to.
"It's alright. I can handle myself. He did not hurt me."
She forgot how much time she spent like this, on Cube's lap, his fingers combing through her hair. Her enraged, hurt trance broke once her sobs were more stiffled hiccups. The patch of Cube's trousers underneath her face was drenched and cold, and her cheeks felt
salty and clammy. She blew her nose again, trying to be dignified about it.
"Mistress, how are you feeling?", he asked, peering into her face.
"I don't want to marry the dragon boy.", she said flatly.
"He's a very charming youth."
"I love another", she finally said. She felt him freeze momentaneously. She knew he did not want her to suffer through heartbreak.
"The Prince, mistress? Forgive me for prying. You can trust me."
Olive made an ambiguous, monossilabic sound. Cube continued to stroke her hair, not sure what to say anymore to confort her. It was a full, heavy while before either talked.
"Remember, when I was younger and ran away?"
"Yes, Mistress, I do."
"Papa must have sent you after me. I was going to buy a doll and put it on Papa's credit. You came out of nowhere and gave me a scolding, right there in front of everyone. You were so angry! And I felt so humiliated. You held my hand on the way back. I cried the whole time. But, I don't remember you saying a single harsh word, or tugging at me. When we could see home from the road, you made me promise never to run away again without telling Papa or you. You were always so gentle with me, even though I didn't deserve it."
"And yet, I never found it strange that you just appeared there in the market to take me home. To me, it was like you were always there, no matter what. I took it for granted.
And remember? Those times I got hurt when out in the middle of nowhere with Papa, you would carry me the entire way back on your wings. The only thing seperating me from the fall were your arms. And then, you would nurse me back to what I was before Papa treated me so roughly. He tried to make me strong, but it was you and only you who was there in the backstage, treating the weakness that he refused to see."
Olive paused her speech. Cube was silent, his hand still caressing her head. She could tell he was straining to understand her message, probably even hit back by the sudden gratitude. She took courage to carry on.
"That final time I went adventuring with Papa, and that bandit struck me down… The next thing I remember seeing was you, sitting on that chair over there, looking like you hadn't slept in a long time. Your arm was bandaged. I never said anything, but I knew you fought the criminal off by yourself… to protect me."
Olive felt Cube's back stiffen and his hand widraw, and she heard an intake of breath. Something bad had almost happened that day that Cube refused to talk about. She pretended not to know, for his and Papa's sake. Yet again, he took pain upon himself to protect her. She knew that he would live forever with what he witnessed that day, without ever having a shoulder to rely on. She could be his shoulder. She wanted to protect him, too.
Olive sat up, and cleaned her face with a corner of the hankerchief. Cube was staring at her, with an expression that could very well pass for horror. Was it because of what she had just force him to relive? Or was it because he understood what she was trying to say?
She turned to face him and saw his eyes, stuck in a quizical, wordless question, vertical pupils dilated In the diminuishing sunlight. Then softly, she put her arms around his neck. He caressed her back in a brotherly fashion. Olive, in turn, pulled her face inches to his.
"Mistress, I don't think-"
"Cube, I love you."
She had already parted her lips and locked her mouth to his – and he responded. Cube's internal conflict was almost palpable. Olive gently pushed him back on the bed, and they lay there, face-to-face.
"Don't say a word. I want to savour being with you before Papa marries me off." Cube could do nothing but hold her. He knew she had already resigned herself to the possible future with the dragon boy.
"You know I am very fond of you also, young Mistress. I would gladly stay by your side, but do you know what I am, and where I come from?"
"You are no different from me, Cube. Demon by name, angel by demeanour. I confess I do not know about your past, or how you came to work for Papa, but even if you did anything bad, you have redeemed yourself a thousand times over."
There was another prolonged silence. Olive listened intently to his breathing, her hand casually caressing his waist.
"Mistress, you needn't marry the dragon youth if you so desire.", he said, brushing his hand against her face, "I, your servant, would be happy to wed you in his place."