Pretty as a princess

It really was a beautiful dress, she mused; a small, warm smile on her face. If this dress looked that beautiful worn by a black wire meshwork of a headless mannequin, then just imagine how pretty it would be when wrapped around a real human.

She had made custom dresses before, of course. It was her job- and, although she ran a small, private business, she was rather successful. She wasn't particularly well known, but she did have some rather loyal (and, more importantly, rather rich) clients. Thus, she had to ensure the custom clothes she sewed were of the best quality.

Some of the clothes she had been commissioned to craft were even more elaborate, if such a thing was believable, than this black and red wedding cake of ruffles, ribbons and gold detailing just like icing- but she had never been this proud of one of her creations before.

She had worked harder on this gown than she had ever done in the past, and the results had really paid off.

It looked exactly like something a princess might wear.

Aah, to think that Ushiromiya Kinzo- the famous Ushiromiya Kinzo, titled semi-jokingly, semi-jealously as 'Goldsmith' in the newspapers for his vast wealth and incredible business skills- had commissioned her, a new, up-and-coming custom clothier, to make a dress for an Ushiromiya.

It was an honor- a great honor; and that, coupled with the large amount of money that had been promised to her if she succeeded in her task, had spurred her to work at painstakingly sewing up this dress relentlessly day after day after day. It had taken her two weeks of working from dawn to dusk, foregoing meals in favor of tweaking the length of the sleeves or adding a touch more golden detailing about the chest, but now the fruits of her labor had paid off at last.

It was finally finished.

Creating that dress from nothingness hadn't been a chore; not at all- even though it was a mammoth task Heracles may have paled at. Her daydreaming had kept her going; her heart forcing her hands to work, whilst her head showed her beautiful images like something from an illustrated book of fairy stories.

Who was this dress for? Surely it was for Ushiromiya Kinzo's wife- or, maybe... hehe~ It was probably rude to even consider this, especially given Kinzo was her patron, but maybe… … Maybe this dress was for some secret mistress instead?

Aaah, that sounded so romantic; just like something from a Harlequin novel!

She had heard Ushiromiya Kinzo had a passion for the West, so if he had a mistress, surely she would be a pretty thing with blonde hair and blue eyes. Ooh, maybe this dress that mysterious figure the papers had talked of; the 'Golden Witch' who was rumoured to have given Kinzo his gold.

Could this dress really be for a witch?

Ahahaha, of course not- probably not; witches didn't exist... but wearing a dress like this could surely make anybody look like a princess.

Of that, she was certain.

This was a dress for a princess- and whomever Kinzo was going to give it to, he must have loved them very much.

This happy fantasy had been enough to make the girl work; pouring her heart and soul into crafting something beautiful.

The dress really had been made with love.

The dress was beautiful, yes, but... … well.

She bit her full lower lip worryingly.

It would have been disrespectful towards her Father to say such a thing, especially when he had lavished so much money on getting it sewn especially for her, but...

But still…

She never asked for an ornate outfit like this.

She never asked for any of the expensive presents he showered upon her. I-it wasn't that she ungrateful, or at least, she hoped she wasn't ungrateful, because Kumasawa had always taught her to be polite and well-mannered, and accept her Father's gifts with a bow of the head and gracious smile, b-but… but…

S-she didn't want… all of this.

She didn't want it.

The jewellery, the make up, the shoes, the clothes; she didn't need it; she had never wanted it… a-and this dress especially, s-she…

She didn't like it.

It was far too heavy, so it was difficult to breathe when it cinched tightly about her waist; as though an iron band was constricting her lungs. She couldn't walk very well in it, either; having to lift the cumbrous skirts up with trembling hands, sometimes stumbling over the hem when her feet got tangled up in it, like a kitten entangled in a ball of wool.

The dress itself felt like a cage.

A cage of fabric; an expensive present; another tie, a chain, a string, a debt that bound her to Ushiromiya Kinzo, and this mansion, and this island she was told she could not escape from.

She owed Kinzo so much already, and with every gift he bestowed upon her, the more she started to worry. What would she have to do to repay him? She didn't have anything to offer. So… … what could she do to lessen her debt?

What could she do to lessen her guilt?

She had worn fine clothes all her life, all of them bought by Father for his 'beautiful Beatrice'; the light pink gown, the ruffled black and white, the pure white frock the same color as her skin with the matching bonnet, adorned with mint green ribbons...

But this dress was different, somehow.

It was of a finer quality than all of the others- and it was more detailed, more extravagant, and far more expensive. She felt as though she were throwing money away by the handful every time the fabric of the thick skirts brushed against her bare thighs when she moved.

How could she ever hope to repay him for this, which must have been the most gorgeous thing her body had ever been adorned with?

What could she do… …?

When she wore that dress, Father looked at her differently.

Maybe he was pondering how she could repay him, too.

He had led her into her bedroom by the hand, instructing her to keep her eyes closed- and, when he allowed her open them, pale lashes fluttering, she had seen it.

The dress.

It was lying on the bed neatly, just waiting for her to wear it.

When she had first seen it- the intricate skirts stitched with the golden one winged eagle, the dangerously low neckline modestly lined with frills, the pink bow, knot studded with semi-precious stones- it had taken her breath away.

It wouldn't be a lie to say it made her heart stop still in her chest.

He had helped her try the dress on, just as he had done with the other pretty clothes he had bought her over the years- b-but this was different somehow, because she wasn't a child anymore, she was a woman, with lush curves and breasts and wider hips- s-so when her Father's fingers trailed on her skin, i-it made her shudder; when she held her blonde curls over her shoulder so he could do the clasps up at the back of her dress her eyes filled with tears.

When he gently kissed the exposed nape of her neck, beard brushing her tender, rosy skin... ... s-she couldn't help but gasp softly.

Was this what Fathers did?

It... probably wasn't.

She didn't like the way he looked at her.

"Ah, how beautiful... This dress really is fitting for a woman like you, isn't it...? My beloved Golden Witch, Beatrice..."

When he whispered that gently in her ear... it made her blood run cold.

His voice didn't sound like that of a father's.

Then again… it hadn't for quite some time.

a/n: This was going to be a oneshot in my umi oneshot collection, but I decided it was honestly too disturbing for such a (mostly) light-hearted series. So, here it is, by itself.
This is the reason why I don't write canon umineko pairings that much they're all so god damn depressing ;_;

~renahhchen xoxo