This story doesn't really have a set place in the manga timeline, except that it is set prior to ch19 (which is the first time Obi sees Shirayuki in a full-out gown, if I recall correctly).

Disclaimer: I do not own Akagami no Shirayukihime. I created the seamstress for story purposes, but this is a canon-character pairing.

It was an average day for the Second Prince of Clarines' personal messenger.

Obi was reclining in a large oak tree outside of the palace, thoughts wandering as he silently watched over the pharmacists gathering plants for medicine below…or rather, watched over one pharmacist in particular.

Shirayuki; the girl with the rare, apple-red hair.

She was wearing a white hood over her head in order to keep the summer sun from beating down on her and giving her heatstroke, and tan leggings under her skirt, as a sensible solution to having to wear a skirt while crouching down to pick herbs. She usually wore short pants or leggings under her outfits in order to give her freedom to work without having to change or worry about how she was sitting. It was sensible, but…

Huh… I don't think I've ever seen the young miss wear a full gown, Obi realized, eyebrows raising a bit. Such a shame, really…

The thought was interrupted before it could go any further than that as Shirayuki stood up, showing Ryuu how much she had picked before they headed inside. Obi felt a bit put out before the girl turned back, shielding her eyes from the sun as she called back to him.

"Obi! We're done here." She motioned for him to follow them inside.

"Right, right," Obi grinned and hopped down lightly from his perch, dusting off his breeches as he went. If only his master didn't monopolize Shirayuki so much, he would probably be a bit happier than he was, but even so… she had a very soothing presence.

Despite staying in such a troublesome place… he guessed it was still kind of nice.

"A ball?"

The surprised look on Shirayuki's face was priceless—albeit cute, Obi thought, though unfortunately there was another who shared the same sentiments as he; the one inviting the redhead to said event, in fact.

Prince Zen smiled a bit. "Yes. It'll take place in two weeks' time. I wanted to ask you to be my escort."

Shirayuki mulled it over for a moment before agreeing. "As long as you're sure it'll be alright for you if I'm your escort."

Zen gave a relieved smile. "Don't worry. I'll make sure of it."

Obi hopped lightly onto the balcony of Zen's study, ghosting inside with hardly any sound as the owner of the room sat at his desk, signing documents and writing diplomatic letters and other things that Obi was sure were just as boring, or at least close to it.

"You wanted to see me, master?" he asked, scrutinizing the rival that he knew he had nothing on.

"Yes," Prince Zen replied, by now almost completely desensitized to Obi's sudden noiseless appearances whenever and wherever he went. "I want you to find a place that would be able to make Shirayuki a suitable dress for the ball in the short amount of time we have…money isn't an issue, I'll be paying for it."

Obi smirked a bit. "You know the young miss will be irritated by that," he pointed out. After all, Shirayuki was most definitely a stubborn woman who preferred to pay her own way and not feel indebted to others.

Zen's lips twitched into a small smile as he continued signing documents while he spoke. "I know. She'll understand, though, since there's such a short time period between now and then in which to buy a dress." He glanced over at Obi for the first time since he'd entered the room. "Find a good seamstress who's willing to take on the task—like I said, price doesn't matter. Be back by tomorrow morning with the place and time of the fitting, or bring the seamstress here, if she's willing…we'll have to go tomorrow, no later."

Obi gave his usual, obedient smile that masked what he was truly feeling, and bowed.

"Yes, master."

He left with the same amount of noise as he had entered with.

After a few hours of riding through the city close to the palace, Obi managed to find an accomplished seamstress willing to take on another customer despite that there were many noblewomen getting new ball gowns sewn or fitted for them due to the fast-approaching event being held at the palace. Without further ado, as soon as he had arranged for Shirayuki to be fitted the next day, he had steered his horse back to the castle at a brisk trot, immensely glad that he had chosen to ride rather than walk on his little foray.

Master had better be well pleased with me for my hard work today…

The next day dawned with Prince Zen cooped up in bed with a pounding headache and a stuffed-up nose.

"Prince, I'm going to ask that you stay in bed today. We wouldn't want your sickness getting any worse," the head pharmacist said firmly, her tone of voice indicating that there would be no room for argument.

Obi was poised, leaned against the wall next to the glass doors (open, at the time) that led out onto the balcony. Despite his faint concern for his master, he was also curious to see what would come of the current predicament, though he kept himself from being hopeful, lest his hopes be dashed.

Zen reached one hand from beneath the covers and placed it over his face, emitting a muffled, frustrated-sounding groan.

"Of all days," he muttered, glancing over at where Obi stood casually, arms folded in front of him. "Obi…can I trust you to escort Shirayuki to her fitting in my place?" he asked, having been witness to the other man's martial arts skill, and thus, along with the man's loyalty to him, feeling that he could trust him with such a personal task.

Obi smiled his usual obedient smile—though there was a bit of a shine to his eyes this time when he did so. He stood straight before giving a small bow to the sick prince.

"But of course, master."

And with that, he silently slipped out of the room once more, though the makings of a secret smile played at the edges of his lips as he went.

The pleasant irony of the situation was quite profound to Obi. As he rode his horse alongside Shirayuki's on the well-worn road to the city, he recalled his thought mere days earlier concerning the fact that he had never seen the young miss in a full-out dress. He allowed a small smirk onto his face. Seeing as he had never seen Shirayuki in a dress, it was highly likely that his master hadn't yet, either. He allowed himself a small amount of pride in the fact that he was to have the satisfaction of doing so before the Second Prince of Clarines…not too much, though. Constantly reminding himself of the saying 'pride cometh before a fall' had served Obi well in the past, and he presumed that it would continue to do so in the future.

After a while of chatting amiably while they rode, the pair reached the city, at which point Obi nudged his horse ahead of Shirayuki's so that he could lead the way to the seamstress' shop. It was well onto the other end of the city, but he made a point of taking a more roundabout route than going directly through the heart of the city, figuring that despite Shirayuki having her hood up to hide her hair, she would probably be a bit uncomfortable with the swarms of people that usually were found at the city center.

When they reached the shop, they dismounted their horses and tethered them to the hitching post before entering the shop. Upon their entrance, the matronly seamstress that ran the shop bustled out from the back room and greeted them before placing a sign in the window that said she was out for lunch, drawing the curtains over the windows in the wall and door, and locking up.

"There, dear; don't be shy now, you shan't be spied on for your hair while you're in my shop; I'll be having none of that!" she said with a smile. "Feel free to remove that hood, we'll need a look at your hair to find out what colors would look best on you." She then proceeded to draw a long measuring tape from her apron pocket and made a shooing motion at Obi. "You go sit in the back room, make yourself comfortable—I need to take the lady's measurements, and I shan't be having you around while she's in her undergarments!"

Scandalized that she would even hint at him having such intentions, Obi hurried into the back room, closing the door behind him as he went. Despite that he liked the redhead, he was quite the gentleman at all times, thank you very much. Suppressing a (slightly irritated) sigh, he glanced about the room he'd found himself in. Sure enough, there were a number of chairs scattered about, as well as a pitcher of water and some goblets to drink out of perched on a table pushed towards the back wall. There was a flight of stairs, but Obi figured the seamstress probably lived on the second floor above the shop, and thus decided against any further exploring. Instead, he poured himself a drink and sat, waiting for what seemed like ages before the door opened once again.

Shirayuki stepped into the room, smiling a bit at Obi as he looked over at her. "You can come back in now," she said, dressed in her regular clothes. "Miss Boucier has picked out some different styles of gowns for me to try on, and then we just have to pick the colors for it."

Obi smiled a bit before following her back into the main room, where the seamstress had set up a wooden changing screen for Shirayuki to use in the back corner of the shop. A number of dresses hung on wooden pegs nailed into the walls, and the seamstress wasted no time picking out a few of varying styles, throwing them over the edge of the changing screen for Shirayuki to try on.

She went through various styles that were in 'vogue' at the moment, some seeming a bit strange to Obi (though he figured it could be that he wasn't quite as fashion-sensible as women, being a man and all), all made of fine quality materials (of that, at least, he was certain). Though Shirayuki seemed to be able to pull off just about anything, when she tried on the second-to-last dress Miss Boucier had set out for her, Obi inhaled sharply when she came out from behind the screen.

"That one," he said as soon as he felt he was able to breathe again.

"This one?" the seamstress said as she fussed with the back to make sure it was sitting properly before stepping back and taking a look at the finished product. She smiled. "Ah, I see what you mean. You do look a beauty in this one, dear. It suits you quite well." She pursed her lips, putting her hand to her chin and tapping it twice. "Hmm, but perhaps we should change those blue accents to a turquoise color…that would bring out your eyes more. Let's see here," she said, grabbing a dress of the color she was looking for and holding it and the end of the blue sash on the dress Shirayuki was wearing up close to her face so that she could see the difference. "Ah, yes. Don't you agree, young man?"

Obi nodded, seeing the difference between the colors. "Done. You can make that in time for the ball?"

She smiled. "Don't underestimate my abilities, young man. I may be old, but I've got plenty of experience under my belt. I'll have it done three days in advance and no later. You can pick it up then."

Shirayuki smiled and twirled once in the dress, watching the skirt flare out a bit before grinning at Obi.

Obi smiled back. At that moment, it didn't matter whether he got to dance with Shirayuki, or even see her, at the ball. It didn't matter that he knew his master was going to develop a relationship with the young miss. It didn't matter that after this, things would be back to the way they always were—with him playing second fiddle to the woman he fancied.

That smile, and that image, was his alone. And he could do with just that for now.