Title: The Garden
Disclaimer: I no own
NO BETA. BEWARE OF ERRORS.
Summary: His father had 3 months to buy him back from Master Riku. For now Sora was stuck in an enchanted castle with a cursed Beast. – RiSo
This Fic was Inspired By:
Beauty and the Beast – by Disney
Beauty and the Beast – by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
The Tiger's Bride – by Angela Carter
The Little Prince – by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's
I. ONCE UPON A TIME
Sora followed behind his father toward the largest house in the town, it was on the outskirts and could be considered a mansion, or a small castle even. His large blue eyes took everything in, and he couldn't help the small sigh which escaped him. He tried to squash the hatred which was beginning form at the pit of his stomach. He knew why he was here.
His father was selling him.
He bit his lower lip to stop it from quivering and followed his father through the rod iron gates which led into the courtyard of the house. There was a rumor that the manor was haunted, or enchanted, whichever sounded more extreme. The townspeople had said that the master of the house was a beast, a monster with no heart. At the same time he was loaded with enough riches to support a small country. Sora only knew too well that the man had money; his father was indebt to him. And since the his old man had no other way to pay off his horrendous debt, he was now offering his son.
The teenager stared down at his booted feet, idly kicking a pebble as he continued along the paved walkway.
"I promise you Sora, I'll come back for you as soon as I have the money." His father told him. It was a lie of course, they both knew it. It was supposed to give him hope, and the boy felt that it was cruel of his father to say such empty words to him.
The teenager did not reply. Instead he watched his breath hang in the air after exhaling.
Taking in a deep breath, his father knocked on the mansion door four times, then took a step back and waited.
His son stared at the whitewashed brick face of the house, the green ivy which crept up towards the third landing, the French styled window panes, and the dark red roof. He supposed that it was probably a beautiful place to be at when it was spring or summer, but it was nearly winter. Everything surrounding them was dead, and it sent an eerie vibe towards anyone who even glanced at the house.
One of the two crimson doors creaked open, and a man with wild red hair and acidic green eyes stared down at both Sora and his father. He was pale, lanky and lithe, and well over six feet tall. His hair was long and styled messily, and he had two upside down tear shaped scars marring his high cheek bones. His expression was somber as he looked the two other men over.
"Mr. Azure, you're surprisingly on time." The tall redhead stated while allowing them into the warmth of the manor. His voice was nasally, and it had a sarcastic tone to it.
The inside flooring was marble, covered with oriental area rugs and high vases at every corner. There was a long hallway before the foyer with four doors on either side. To the right of the foyer was a large, open, space with two sets of winding staircases that led up to the other floors. A crackling fire could be seen from where Sora stood. Before the fire was a high backed chair, from where he was he could see the gloved hand of someone sitting on it.
"That master is just this way, Mr. Azure." The redhead motioned for his father to head towards the fire. He wanted to follow the man but was stopped by the redhead. "I'm sorry, but you will have to wait here until they finish with their negotiations."
Sora bit his inner cheek to prevent himself from speaking out. He was part of the stupid negotiations. His own father was selling him for God's sake! Instead he narrowed his blue eyes down upon the beautiful floor and noticed just how nice the redhead servant's boots were. Much nicer than his own. He wondered if he were going to be treated as nicely, although he doubted it. His father owed a lot of money.
The redhead stood next to him the entire time as he heard his father's murmured voice talking to the master of the manor. The master's own replies were low and barley audible.
"He is giving your father three months to save up what he owes in order to pay up and collect you." The redhead stated. He seemed almost bored with the entire ordeal.
Although Sora didn't doubt that this was a common thing. He looked up at the high ceiling, noticing the fine details in the architecture, along with the beautiful, silver, chandelier which hung above them.
"He won't need three months," The shorter one stated, "He's not coming back for me."
Green eyes looked at him sharply, and for a moment there was pity in them before being quickly replaced by a mask of indifference. "That's alright. Master Riku would keep you if you have no place else to go."
Riku, Sora's mind tested the name out. It was the first time he had ever heard a name go with the supposed monster that everyone gossiped about.
A moment later his father appeared before him, taking his two hands into the other's larger ones. A wide grin was on his father's face.
"He's giving me three months. That's plenty of time." He squeezed his son's hands in a way that was supposed to be reassuring. "I'll be back for you then. I promise." He gave him one last hug and was escorted out of the manor.
Blue eyes just watched his father go, a heavy silence falling over him. He knew that would be the last time he'd ever see the man. Now that his father was rid of his son, he was free to do whatever he pleased. Now that he didn't have a child to weigh him down. The teenager didn't blame his father for that, but thinking about it made him tired.
"What am I to do?" Sora asked the redhead, his eyes were on the back of the masters – Riku, his mind corrected – chair. The man was still sitting there, facing the fire.
The redhead stretched.
"Well," He thought for a moment, "Introductions are in order. I'm Axel, faithful manservant." He grinned, eyes crinkling in the corners and seeming to warm up his entire face significantly. "Often times I'm stuck down in the boiler room, keeping this place warm during the cold months, which have already started as you've noticed. I am to take you to the Roxas, who is the actual head of servants."
"Axel," A voice that was unrecognizable, yet familiar, called out from over where the master sat. It was deep, and had a gravel quality to it. Sora felt his heart jump to his throat as the voice continued. "Show the boy to his room. Have him bathed, and feed him."
Axel stared at the chair, bowing lightly. "Yes Master." He then motioned Sora to follow him behind the chair and towards the staircase.
Sora tried to peek at Master Riku, all he managed to see was a black cloaked arm and silvery wisps of what could've been hair. He couldn't tell, and the redhead was too busy shoving him upstairs for him to get a good look.
They made it to the second floor and Axel walked leisurely, "The East Wing is where most servants live. It's a large house, and most of us have been here a large chunk of our lives. We're more like a giant, dysfunctional, family than anything else. Except when Riku throws his tantrums."
"If he were to hear you say that then you'd be stuck sleeping out in the stables," A dirty blond young man frowned up at Axel as he exited a room, a bucket of water and mop in his hands. "Is this the new guy? I thought I was in charge of that."
"Well, I had orders. And I had already finished all of my chores so I took the liberty of doing this." Axel shrugged sheepishly, looking over at Sora, "Sora, meet Roxy, head of servants."
Sora gave the young man a shaky smile. Roxy was around the same height as himself, a shade paler, and had icy blue eyes which seemed to pierce through Sora's soul.
"My name is Roxas," The blond quickly corrected. "I'm assuming that you're showing him to his room and running the rules by him?" Roxas asked Axel, although his eyes did not leave Sora's. It was eerie, how similar they looked.
"Yes, now if you'll excuse us," Axel took the brunette by the elbow and gave Roxas a pointed look. "I'll see you later." He then dragged Sora down the hallway.
All of the doors looked the same, and the hallway wounded and curved until it met another set of stairs. The floors were of polished, dark, hard wood. There were fancy sconce lighting between every door, and the occasional painting occupying space upon the cream colors walls.
"Were any of those rooms important?" Sora asked Axel curiously.
The question caused the other to shrug. "Maybe you'll get see them once you're settled in. This is your room." He nodded towards the door near another set of stairs, it was almost hidden, and next to a large bay window which let in a flood of light.
The taller man lowered the door handle and opened the room, noticing with pleasure how someone had cleaned it prior to Sora's arrival. The floors were the same hardwood as the rest of the second story. There was a large king sized four-post bed located between two windows, two small bedside tables underneath them. Across from the bed was a dresser which took up the entire wall, leaving only enough space for a wardrobe. Above the dresser was a large mirror. And on the farthest wall, facing the bedroom door was another hardwood door.
"This room is enormous!" The brunette stared with wide eyes, taking a tentative step inside. He gently fingered the light blue duvet which covered the bed. "This room's as large as our—my father's— house." He had meant their old house, the one that they lived in before his mother had died.
Axel gave Sora an amused look and took a few long strides to the second door in the room and opening it, revealing a bathroom. The tub was large enough to fit at least four people comfortably. The sink had an ornate vanity and the entire room was white with gold accents.
"Wow, this is incredible."
"Not so bad to be sold now, huh?"
The shorter young man chose not to say anything about Axel's comment. Because, even though his new bedroom was nice, that didn't change the fact that his father sold him.
"I had heard rumors that the Master of this place was…" Sora struggled for the right way to say what he meant before deciding to just say what he had heard. "Heartless."
Axel's entire posture became rigid as he stared Sora over once again. He frowned, right hand lightly touching one of the blackened scars which were on his cheekbones. "That's not…" He paused, unsure how to continue with his sentence. "The Master wishes for you to be fed after you are clean. So please bathe, you will see that there are clothes in the wardrobe which should be around your size. Someone will come back for you when it's time to eat." He gave Sora a small bow, which was returned, and then quietly left the bedroom.
Blue eyes watched after him as the door closed completely, and Sora let out a breath of air that he hadn't realized he had been holding. Why had Axel behaved like that? He couldn't help but wonder.
He peeled off the many layers of the dirty, raggedy, clothes that he often wore. Compared to the servants attire, Sora's clothes were nowhere near as nice. And he was dirty, he hadn't bathed in days, he and his father had been sleeping in stables and the occasional farmhouse that they had to sneak into.
They had just moved to the town not two months ago, his father had taken a loan from Master Riku, and had then gambled all of the money away. And then proceeded to gamble the house and all of their belongings as well. Sora had wanted to take up a job, but his father's reputation around town preceded him. It was unfortunate for the young man. Then Master Riku had come to collect, and here was Sora now.
He filled up the cast iron tub, hissing as the scalding water surrounded him when he entered. The water quickly became a murky brown. He had to continue draining it until he was sure that he was as clean as he's ever been in his entire life.
Eventually the water stayed clear and he sighed tiredly, leaning back and contemplating about the rumors that he had heard. About the gravel-like voice which felt weighted down, something about that voice caused Sora's body to tingle pleasantly. It was embarrassing when he thought about it, but, as he allowed his hands to roam over his nude torso under the water, something about that voice made him feel so—
A sharp knock on the door shook him out of his daze, and felt his face heat up with shame. Had he honestly been thinking such thoughts?
"Yes?" He asked curiously. He curled instinctively, and peered over the edge of the tub.
"I've arranged an outfit for you. It's on the bed. Get out and get dressed, the Master is waiting for you." The voice belonged to Roxas, and Sora quickly did as he was told. Unplugging the tub and stepping out in a soft towel, the servant was waiting for him on the other side of the door.
The blonde's eyebrows rose at the sight of him, "I didn't know how pale you were. Was all of that really just dirt making you seem darker then you really were?" He tilted his head, and his eyes felt as if they could see through Sora. Something was different about Roxas's eyes, but he couldn't quite place what.
"You are to wear the black pants and the red tunic tonight. You'll be dining with Master Riku so you'll need to look your best." Roxas stated, turning to the dresser and picking through various colognes while Sora dressed quickly.
"What?" The other young man squeaked. "May I enquire as to why? Why would he want to eat with me?" He was a little confused, and Roxas threw him a smirk from the dresser's mirror.
"Usually he dine's alone, he's not really one for company. Tonight, however, he wants to eat with you. It's as simple as that, and you can't refuse him."
Sora bit his inner cheek. He wanted to ask questions about the Master, and what exactly was going on. Instead he threw on the red tunic and allowed Roxas to spray a quick spritz of cologne on him.
"Our chef, Xigbar, prepared a special meal for you." Roxas stated while leading the other back down to the first landing and towards the dinning room. It was already dark out and every fire place that they passed was on, the scones and chandeliers emitted a dim light in the hallways. "I hope you like beef. If not, then I suppose that's too bad."
The mention of meat made Sora's mouth water. He hadn't had a proper meal in weeks. And beef was expensive; he couldn't help but wonder just how much money that the Master had. The man had enough to afford beef, the house, the land, and servants. It was all rather impressive and intimidating for him. He was nervous.
Roxas stopped before a pair of large hard oak double doors. "Take in a deep breath, and let it out slowly."
Sora eagerly did as he was told. By the time he was done exhaling, Roxas had opened the doors to the large dinning room and then closed them behind the other, leaving him alone with the Master.
Master Riku sat at the end of one side of the table, his entire body covered in a heavy black cloak, there was a black cloth covering his eyes, and his entire face was covered with shadow. Sora tried not to stare at his odd attire as he clumsily took the seat to the right of the other man. To sit at the other end of the table would've made Sora felt awkward and even more alone then he already did. He was a bundle of nervous energy, and he couldn't control his rapidly beating heart.
Soup was brought out first, and he watched as Riku brought the bowl up this mouth and drank quietly. He stared for a moment before doing the same, not seeing the point of manners if the Master of the house wasn't using them.
Somehow, despite his eyes being covered, Riku knew that he was copying him and stopped.
"You have two perfect hands," His growl of a voice stated, "Use a spoon."
Sora felt his hands tremble as he lowered the bowl. Something about the man's dark voice made his mouth go dry. "Yes Master."
The other man stiffened in his seat and moved his head sharply to Sora, and if he weren't wearing the black clothe, Sora was willing to bet that they'd be staring each other down. In the dim firelight he could make a brief outline of the other's face. There was sliver of silver hair, fur, something along those lines. He held his breath as he tried to see more but couldn't.
"You may finish your dinner in the kitchen with the other servants." Riku stated, standing up and leaving the table, as well as a very confused Sora, behind.
MoonLLotus: Okay, so the timeline is a bit confusing. They're at the beginning of an industrial age. There is electricity, although not many have it, and there is indoor heating as well as plumbing. It's kind of Steam Punk. Love it? Hate it? I like the way this is going so far. Please review, they keep me alive.
Revamp written: 1/11/12
Originally written: 10/13/10