Summary: Sharon Rainsworth tries to find a man to help her produce the heir to the Rainsworth dukedom. Surely there must be someone willing? Humor, slightly crack-y.
Writer's Note: I had the basic idea for the story last year, but originally I thought it would be a lot smuttier. Then Unbirthday magazine was looking for submissions, and I wrote it in a much more innocent way to appeal to a broader audience. Unfortunately, Unbirthday doesn't seem to be launching anytime soon, so I'm just going to post this story. This was beta'd by total_alias (you are wonderful, you know)?
Sharon Rainsworth closed the door to her grandmother's office gently behind her, letting out a small sigh. Grandma's right, she thought. I'm the only one who could possibly produce an heir for the Rainsworth house.
A smile slowly came over her face as she imagined cuddling a small infant. She practically skipped down the hall to her room, imagining a little one beside her, wearing the most adorable of outfits. Someone to play with…someone to teach…I'll be just like her big sis– Sharon stopped cold, her expression paled. Except I won't be her big sister, I'd be…her mother! And being her mother means…g-giving birth! And before that…getting…p-pregnant! She looked down at her youthful body and imagined her belly swollen with child, then put her hand up to her mouth and pressed her knees together underneath her skirt.
Just then a door flung open and Xerxes Break came out into the hallway.
"Milady," he said, bowing slightly. "I must go out for a bit, but I'll be back for tea." He grinned a wide crooked smile that was as close to a wink as the one-eyed man could manage.
Sharon exhaled and smiled warmly.
"I'll look forward to it, Break."
She watched him glide down the hall, his white jacket fluttering behind him, and her eyes alighted on the bit of skin that showed above his boots. As his silhouette receded, she admired with languid eyes the curve of his shoulders, and her lips parted thoughtfully.
Back in her room, Sharon took out her journal. It was a slim leather volume with cloth lining, in which she took care to write only with black ink lest it appear as if she were a mere child who carelessly scribbled about with a variety of colors. The journal was virtual proof of her womanhood, for in it, she had carefully noted the start of her special monthly time using an invented secret symbol, so that no prying eyes would know just what it was. She could see for herself that her most recent cycle had begun nine days prior, which, according to lore handed down from generations of Rainsworth women, meant her fertile time was nearly upon her.
She closed the book and slipped it into her nightstand drawer, and then walked across the room to her window and looked out. It was a sunny day, and down below in the garden, she could see Break and Reim chatting on the bench, while Oz and Gilbert were sitting together, leaning up against a tree. The possibilities began to play out in her mind…
"I invited Reim to have tea with us," Break explained later that afternoon, as he poured a cup of tea for Sharon. "But he had some errand to run for Barma."
"I do miss those days sometimes," Sharon said, sipping her tea. "Back when Reim was living with us here at Rainsworth."
"It seems so long ago, mm?" Break eyed a tray of cakes.
Sharon set her teacup down and looked at her white-haired companion. "Do you feel the years upon you, Break?"
"Eh?" Break hastily swallowed a lemon square in one gulp and licked the fork.
"I mean – do you feel like you're getting old, despite the contract's effects?"
Break stabbed a raspberry chocolate layer cake with his fork and stuck it in his mouth.
"Never mind what I think, Milady." He licked his lips and used his fingertip to wipe a stray bit of frosting off the side of his mouth. "Is something troubling you?"
"It's just that, time is passing, and I…" Sharon paused and nervously sipped her tea. "I…am the only one who can provide an heir to the Rainsworth house."
Break sucked the frosting off his finger for a longer time than usual. With a serious expression, he looked her in the eye. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Well…" Sharon looked up at him and smiled her warmest smile. "I was hoping you could help me…produce the heir."
"Eh!" Break's eyes grew wide. "A servant like me…" he muttered. He lifted a plate of cake up to his mouth, obscuring most of his face from her view.
"I've thought about it and…" Sharon clenched her napkin and squirmed in her seat. "I really would like you to be the one." She let one dainty shoe drop from her foot, then stretched her leg out and found Break's leg under the table. Unable to see his face hidden behind the plate he'd been holding up for entirely too long, she grinned slyly and rubbed the bare skin on his calf with her stockinged foot.
He slid his chair back, put the plate on the table, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and looked at Sharon's hopeful expression for a long moment. And then he burst out laughing. He rolled to the side on his chair and then fell to his knees on the floor, still cackling with laughter.
Sharon threw her napkin down on the table angrily, pushed her chair from the table, went to where he was bent over, and then smacked him on the head with her fan.
"You're so cruel!" she shrieked, hitting him again.
He continued to grin and chuckle even while blood dripped down the side of his head.
"It's so unfair," she wailed, tears coming to her eyes.
"Milady," he said, sitting up and clasping her wrists to stop her from beating him further. "It would be highly inappropriate for a lady of your noble standing to—"
"I know you are a servant," she sobbed, falling on her knees and putting her head on his chest. "But I don't want to command you to be with me…I want you to want to be with me!" Her voice trailed off, she collapsed her head onto his chest, and soon his shirt was wet with her tears.
"It doesn't matter what I want," Break said gently, smoothing her hair. "I have a goal that I'm living for, but it has nothing to do with...making a family. So I must apologize for disappointing you, Milady." He handed her a handkerchief and she wiped her eyes and sniffed.
Break grinned mischievously. "Have you considered asking Reim-san?"
That evening Sharon paid a visit to the Barma house, accompanied by Break. The latter agreed to wait in the carriage until Sharon had finished meeting with Reim Lunettes.
"What brings you out to see me, of all people?" asked Reim, replacing the teapot on the table. "Pandora business, I assume?"
Sharon smiled and giggled.
"Actually I've come to see you on pleasure, not business." She took a sip of her tea and looked fondly at her childhood friend.
"Y-You don't say…" Reim flushed a bit and adjusted his glasses. "Well, it has been a long time since we've had a social visit." He brought the teacup to his lips, his hand trembling slightly. "Come to reminisce about old times?"
"Actually, I'm more interested in discussing our future together." Sharon reached out and took one of his hands in hers.
"Wha-huh-uh...!" Reim pulled his hand away, and clanked his teacup on its saucer. "Whatever do you mean, Miss Sharon?"
"You see," Sharon replied, placing her hands together neatly in her lap, "the Rainsworth household needs an heir, and the duty of providing an heir falls to me…and by extension, of course, whichever man might be willing and able to help me."
"H-Help you?" Reim gasped, eyes wide. "Pray tell, how might, uh…oh never mind." He took off his glasses and began cleaning them compulsively with a handkerchief.
"The act itself is one I've never performed," Sharon murmured sweetly, "but from what I understand—"
"N-Now hold on, Miss Sharon…please!" Reim replaced the glasses on his face and looked Sharon in the eye. "This whole idea of using me, is completely wrong and ill-advised. I'm merely a servant, not worthy of h-helping p-produce the heir to a dukedom."
Sharon frowned and clutched the tablecloth with her hands. Tears welled up in her eyes.
"Please don't be upset, Miss Sharon, it's not that I don't find you attract-t-t…uh…" Out of the corner of his eye, Reim sensed movement near the cabinet door. He stood up, walked across the room and flung open the door to reveal Xerxes Break, hiding amidst the coats.
"Hoho!" laughed Break. "You really should clean your jacket more often, Reim-san. These lollipop bugs are breeding aaall over iiiit!"
"Xerxes Break!" Reim scowled, noting at least four half-eaten lollipops stuck to the back of his Pandora uniform. He was about to grab Break's arm and haul him out when the white-haired man jumped to the floor, took a few steps, and hopped up on the table where Reim and Sharon had been having tea.
"I simply wanted to make sure you were not hurting Milady's feelings," Break said, snatching Reim's cake.
"What do either of you care about my feelings!" Sharon cried out, standing up. "You've both rejected me today. I'm so humiliated…to be turned down…by…two of my dearest friends!" She burst into tears and ran off to the bathroom.
Reim and Break looked at each other.
"What are you up to Xerx?" Reim muttered, looking at the white-haired man suspiciously.
"What makes you think I'm up to something?" Break took Reim's glasses-cleaning handkerchief out of the other man's pocket and wiped his mouth with it.
"You're always up to something." Reim wrinkled his brow.
"So accusatory, ah?" Break pouted, then raised his voice. "It's so unfair…"
"DON'T MAKE FUN OF ME!" screamed Sharon from the doorway, throwing her fan at Break and hitting him smack in the head. He smiled and dabbed at his bleeding forehead with Reim's handkerchief. The bespectacled man started to protest and then took off his glasses, lowered his head into his hand and began rubbing the bridge of his nose vigorously.
Sharon came back, stood in front of the two men and put her hands on her hips, frowning.
"What am I supposed to do?" she exclaimed. "If the Rainsworth family line dies out it will be all my fault."
"Well, Milady," noted Break, "Rainsworth isn't the only dukedom in danger of ending with the current generation. That old idiot Duke Barma still hasn't produced an heir and the way things are going with the headhunter, Nightray house is also under threat of extinction."
Nightray house. That handsome Gilbert…
The wheels turned in Sharon's head and her frown slowly shifted into a peaceful expression.
"Come, Break. We're going." She nodded to Reim and smiled kindly. "Thank you for your hospitality."
In the carriage on the way home, the young woman was mostly quiet and sat with her hands in her lap. On his sixteenth lollipop since the start of their trip, Break had begun licking the candies, rather than hastily biting through them and discarding the sticks on the floor.
"It's interesting how the more of these you eat," said Break, gazing at the purple lollipop, "the easier it is to simply unwrap and sample another, and then another, until eating them becomes almost meaningless…unsatisfying, even. Perhaps I should have stopped at one, and not trifled with the rest."
Sharon was too lost in her own thoughts to process what Break was saying. She sighed and looked out the window.
Break leaned forward and cocked his head to the side. "I hope you'll not be greeting your grandmother with such a dreary face, mm?"
"Break…" she started, then looked down at her lap. "I suppose you and Reim-san are correct. I should be approaching men of similar social stature as my own." She smiled brightly. "I will start tomorrow."
The next morning, Sharon invited Gilbert Nightray to join her for tea.
"Where's Break?" he asked, taking off his hat.
"I do not know where Break is right now," Sharon said kindly, "but I'm happy to see just you, Gilbert-sama!"
Gilbert's face took on a puzzled expression, and the young lady was quick to notice it.
"I didn't ask you here on Pandora business, if that's what you're thinking." Sharon placed her teacup on the saucer. "Please sit down." She poured him some tea.
"Oz and Alice are out in the garden," he said. "I wasn't sure if you wanted them to come, too?"
"Normally I'd be happy to receive them, but today I'd like to speak to you privately." Sharon looked at him fondly, and blushed. "Have you ever thought of being a father, Gilbert-sama?"
"Wh-what are you talking about?" he stuttered in a low voice, casting a sidelong glance toward the door.
"Oh dear, I'd best just come right out and say it." She leaned forward and considered clasping his hand but thought better of it. "I would very much like to join our two houses and produce an heir with you, Gilbert-sama."
Gilbert turned pink and looked around, half-expecting to see Break snickering in the corner. His brow practically tied itself in a knot.
"A-Are you…k-kidding me? I could never…uh…"
"Don't think of it as betraying the Nightray house, Gilbert-sama. Think of it as a happy joining of two houses in a life of mutual beneficence!" Sharon's eyes twinkled as she clasped her hands in front of her.
"Actually, I-I…um…" Gilbert mumbled and looked down at the table.
"Am I not attractive to you?"
"I-I…um…" he looked around the room, actually hoping that Break would pop out from behind a door and save him from this uncomfortable experience. Surely being tormented by Break is easier than this, he thought.
Sharon bit her trembling lip and covered her face with her hands.
"Am I really so ugly?" she said quietly, sobbing. "Or is it my girlish body, Gilbert-sama? Is that why you don't want me, because…because I have the body of a young girl?"
Gilbert's eyes grew wide and he reached into his pocket for a cigarette, lit it quickly and took a long drag, savoring the sensation of the cigarette on his quivering lips.
"Hey, Gil…" Oz called out, entering the room with Alice behind him.
Gilbert's face lit up, then settled into a relieved expression as he let out a sigh.
Oz continued, "I didn't think you were allowed to smoke inside the mansion."
Gilbert walked over to the window and opened it, then perched himself on the windowsill and gazed outside, sighing deeply.
"What's wrong, Sharon-chan?" Oz said, looking concerned.
"Oz-sama!" she cried, wiping her tears with her napkin. "I need to have a baby to carry on the Rainsworth family line and I can't find any man who will help me!"
Oz looked at her tear-stained face a moment, then down to her feet and back up again.
"Let me make sure I've got this right," he said, pulling up a chair beside her. "You need to have a baby, and you need a man to help you get pregnant?"
"Why do you need a man for that?" Alice interjected.
"Alice…" Oz laughed a little and rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. "You need a man to uh…well, let's just say that men and women have different parts, and you need both types of parts to make a baby."
Alice looked at the two of them, then over to Gilbert still smoking by the window, and back to Oz.
"Couldn't you help her, Oz?" she said. "You're a man, right?"
Gilbert's neck whipped around so fast he almost lost his balance and fell off the windowsill.
"Uh, well…" Oz blushed and dug his fingernails into the back of his neck. He looked at Gilbert's bug-eyed expression and grinned. "Sure! I'd be glad to help you out, Sharon-chan!"
Gilbert gritted his teeth and looked away.
"So what does he have to do?" asked Alice, hands on her hips.
"Alice-kun," Sharon said gently, "that's something you're not really old enough to know about yet." Then she turned to Oz. "If you are prepared to help me this evening, please come to my bedroom about an hour after dinner."
"Sure." Oz nodded, casting an evil grin at Gilbert.
That afternoon Sharon felt herself ill at ease. It was really the mechanics of the act that worried her, especially since she had never done it before. Her mind was full of what-if questions, and she found herself pacing through the rose garden, wringing her hands. What if we can't figure out how to do it right? What if it doesn't fit? What if it hurts? She was so deep in thought she didn't see Oscar Vessalius coming up the path.
"Miss Sharon!" Oscar exclaimed, smiling.
"Oh!" she gasped, clasping her hands together in front of her bosom. "Good day to you, Oscar-sama."
"I was hoping to get a word with you in private. Is this a good time?" Oscar took a drag from his cigarette.
"I suppose so." Sharon looked down at the path. "Would you like to walk with me?"
"I'd like that very much." Oscar tapped a loose ash from his cigarette onto the path as the two began walking side by side down a path flanked with red rose bushes. "I heard, Miss Sharon, that you are hoping to get my nephew's help in producing an heir for your house. Is that right?"
"That is true, Oscar-sama, however—"
"However, there is the slight problem that you two are not married."
"Well, I was hoping—"
"That Oz and I would ask your grandmother if he could have your hand in marriage?"
"Eh…" Sharon looked puzzled, then smiled shyly. "Um, yes, I suppose that would be a good idea. Although…Oz and I didn't actually speak of marriage, we just were thinking of…um." Her face turned a pale shade of pink.
Oscar burst out laughing. "Ah, the days of youthful indiscretion." He shook his head and took a puff of his cigarette. "You haven't even come of age yet, Miss Sharon." He leaned forward and looked her right in the eye. "So until that happens, you could be betrothed to my dear nephew, and then after your coming of age ceremony, we could celebrate the wedding, mm?"
Sharon's face felt uncomfortably hot.
Oscar continued, "The nobles will be expecting a big gala affair…the wedding of the heirs of not one but two duke houses. Did you think of that? What a wonderful party that would be…"
"It does sound nice…" Sharon murmured. "I'm embarrassed that I completely forgot about that important step…of marriage." I really don't want to marry Oz-sama, though, she thought. I want to marry someone I really love, not just someone I merely like.
She heard a rustling in the rose bushes and the snip of a clipper. Looking in the direction of the noise, she saw the top of Break's head, and had to fight back wistful tears.
That evening at the appointed time, Oz appeared at Sharon's chamber door, freshly washed and dressed, holding a bouquet of red roses. Sharon opened the door, the two greeted each other, and then Oz stepped inside and shut the door. Seconds later, Gilbert and Alice crept up to the door and pressed their ears to it.
"Thank you for the roses, Oz-sama." Sharon inhaled their scent and then lay them on the table. "Excuse me while I get a vase…" After she exited the room through a side door, Oz stood there looking around her bedroom, teetering back and forth on his feet. The coverlet of her bed was turned down already and Oz took a deep breath and shuddered on the exhale. Sharon returned with a vase full of water and placed the flowers in them. As she did so, a note tumbled out of them. She opened the small white paper and saw Break's handwriting. She knew it was his, just as she knew the man who wrote it – so well. The note said, "Don't do it for someone's sake. Do it for your own." Sharon looked at Oz, puzzled.
"Well, the roses were given to me by Break, actually," he admitted. "He told me to give them to you."
"I see." Her eyes twinkled as she set the note on the table. "Please sit down, Oz-sama."
Oz looked at the bed, but Sharon motioned toward the loveseat, and the two sat down together, both fidgeting a bit.
"That's a lovely dress Sharon-chan," Oz said, smiling awkwardly.
"Thank you." Sharon's expression grew serious. "Perhaps you know this already, but our families are expecting us to get married before we…em…"
"I know." Oz pulled one knee up to his chest and hugged it. "That's a problem isn't it?"
"I suppose it is…I'm sorry, Oz-sama, but I feel that I should only marry…a-and be with…someone I really love and adore more than anyone else in the world. And…" she looked down at her hands.
"It's okay." Oz clapped his hand on hers. "I totally understand."
"Really?" Sharon looked grateful.
"Yeah. I mean… I have someone else I adore more than anyone else, too." He grinned.
"Who?" Sharon leaned forward, and beamed like a schoolgirl eager for some juicy gossip.
Outside in the hallway, Gilbert and Alice heard the muffled sounds of conversation coming through the door, but they couldn't make out the words. Then Sharon let out a little scream and Gilbert and Alice looked at each other.
Alice's brow furrowed and she hissed, "What is he doing to her?"
Gilbert went pale and then his cheeks flushed pink. He buried his face in his hands as Sharon began making little gasping giggling sounds. A few minutes later, Gilbert heard the sound of footsteps near the door. He grabbed Alice's arm and ran, dragging her with him. The door opened and from around the corner, Gilbert and Alice watched and listened.
"…Gil is so much fun to tease," Oz told Sharon, laughing.
"You and Break are so alike," Sharon said, smiling. "That must be why I like you, Oz. Thank you very much for your understanding and kindness."
After they took leave of each other, Sharon shut the door and Oz found himself alone in the hallway. A half-smile stole onto his face, and he sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
"Ah. That's how it is, I guess," he muttered to himself, and strolled down the hall.
"Break!" Oz exclaimed when he arrived in the sitting room. "Where are Gilbert and Alice?"
"Hmm?" Break looked up from doodling on his Pandora paperwork. "Ah, Oz-kun. Did you give the flowers to Milady?"
Break looked at him slyly. "Was she suitably impressed with your thoughtfulness at remembering to bring her flowers?"
"Ha. You were totally trying to help me out. I appreciate that." Oz sat on the loveseat next to Break. "But I think she was more impressed with the note you'd hidden in the flowers. Honestly, I think you're the one she wants, Break."
Break sighed and put his papers aside. "Well, obviously that's not going to happen."
Break tossed his pen on the coffee table and leaned back. "Sharon wants one of those 'knights in shining armor' that she's read about in those romance novels of hers. She doesn't want to face reality... I'm not going to live much longer. Besides," his voice dropped to a whisper, "she deserves better than me."
"I'm not sure you're giving Sharon-chan enough credit, Break. She's more mature and able to handle 'reality' than you think." Oz turned to Break and folded one leg under the other. "And I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit either. Despite being a sadistic weirdo with a doll on your shoulder, you're a pretty good guy, underneath, I suspect."
"Heh," Break muttered, leering. "You're really…not cute."
The next morning, Sharon looked again at the note, "Don't do it for someone's sake. Do it for your own," then left her room and went to visit her grandmother Sheryl.
"Come in, dear," said the old duchess when she heard her granddaughter's voice at the door. "How are you today?"
"I'm fine, Grandmother, thank you for asking." Sharon bowed her head and clenched her skirt with her hands. "It's just…I need to talk to you about something."
"Go right ahead," said the old woman, putting down her pen.
"You see," continued Sharon. "I want to be useful to my family and I know that if I produced an heir it would be a help, but I am really not all that inclined to…what I mean to say is that…well…" She blushed a bit and clenched her skirt tighter, rubbing the fabric between her fingers. "I'm kind of embarrassed to talk about it."
"Sharon dear," said her grandmother kindly. "You've learned something, haven't you?"
"Yes, I have."
"I'm glad." Sheryl picked up a letter addressed to her from Rufus Barma and tossed it into the fire. "One of the most important lessons a lady must learn is to not give her love freely to just any man. Is there anything else you would like to say?"
"No, Grandmother." Sharon exhaled and looked relieved. "Thank you. Thank you so very much…" She smiled and curtsied, took leave of the wise matriarch and stepped outside, one step closer to fulfilling her destiny.
P.S. If you want some M-rated Sharon/Break action, check out "L'Amore" by KyoxSakiFan or "The Buckling and Unbuckling of Xerxes Break" by me (MirrorDede).