This story was written using the Big Damn Table from the Fanfic100 challenge community (see here at fanfic100 . livejournal . com / profile).
Author's Note: In case you haven't read my Hazelnut Gazebo story, I have my own take on age in the AT universe. My theory is that Candy People have two ages. One is their age in human years, which relates to how many years they've been alive, and the other is their age in Candy Person years, which depends on how much candy biomass they have. Therefore, I believe PB is quite a bit older than 18, and I make mention of that in this story.
Rating: T for suggestive themes, a bad word, and blatant lesbianism.
Prompt: #56 Breakfast
Few Candy Citizens stirred inside the castle in the gray hours before dawn. Princess Bubblegum believed that a well-rested castle staff was a happy castle staff, and so no one was required to wake before the sun. In fact, most of the castle staff usually slept for several hours past dawn. That was when a typical day in the Candy Kingdom began. Until that time, the castle slept peacefully.
But this morning was different. Though the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, Peppermint Butler was already walking silently through the dark and empty halls of the castle. The tiny butler was always the first to wake, but he was up extra early this morning. He had a special mission to complete, and he knew he could only complete it while the castle still slept.
Special missions weren't really odd for the butler. Peppermint's duties had never really been set in stone. Generally, he oversaw the castle staff, organized the parties, kept the records, and drove the Royal Carriage. But his primary duty, and his most important one, was to serve the Princess in any capacity she needed. The job of the Princess was to attend to the well-being of the kingdom above any other duty. But the job of the butler was to care, first and foremost, for the well-being of the Princess, whatever the meant for the Kingdom. Sometimes those duties were routine, and sometimes they were quite strange. Peppermint had performed all kinds of tasks over the years.
The truth was that the tiny butler had served every single Princess since the Candy Kingdom was founded. He was as old and permanent as the very bricks of the castle itself, though that was a carefully kept secret. Over his years of service that spanned an age, he had found that each Princess required something different from him.
For example, Bubblegum's mother, Celia Cotton Candy, had kept a handmaiden to help her dress and bring her meals. She liked to leave the day-to-day details of running the Candy Kingdom to Peppermint. But she always personally oversaw the preparations for all of the parties and grand balls that she wanted to throw.
Princess Bubblegum was different from her mother, as every Princess was different from all of the others. She was the first scientist that Peppermint had served. She preferred to spend her afternoons in the lab and her mornings running the Candy Kingdom. Unlike her mother, she relied on Peppermint to organize the parties. And, also unlike her mother, she attended to every single detail of the Kingdom. Once she was in the lab, Peppermint was in charge, but he was really only around for emergencies. Bubblegum did all of the ruling before lunchtime.
They had a very precise and regular schedule, one that they had been following for quite a number of years. Bubblegum's day always began when Peppermint woke the Princess with a gentle knock and a nutritious tray of sweets for breakfast. Along with breakfast, Peppermint would bring the Princess the reports from the previous day. Bubblegum would go over them while she dined, and then Peppermint would propose an agenda for the morning. The agenda covered all the things that required the Princess' attention or approval, organized into the most efficient and sensible order. Usually, the Princess found his proposed agenda acceptable, and then Peppermint accompanied her throughout the rest of her morning duties.
But Peppermint had noticed something strange over the past few weeks. Several mornings, when he had knocked to wake the Princess, her customary "Come in!" had come faster than it usually did. It seemed to him as though the Princess was already awake before he knocked, and was merely delaying before she spoke in order to avoid suspicion.
With such a regular schedule in place, any deviations from it were immediately obvious and aroused a great deal of curiosity in the butler. A change in routine like that, even such a small one, could signify a monumental change in the life of his primary charge. And as her butler, Peppermint was bound by his honor and by his love for the Princess to investigate and make sure that everything was ok.
Peppermint had his suspicions, of course. He remembered why the Princess had begun deviating from her schedule the last time it had happened. But it wouldn't do to jump to conclusions.
He rounded the final corner of corridor and found himself walking the familiar steps to the door of the Royal Bedchamber. He walked silently up to the door and paused a moment to listen inside. There were no sounds, no voices, to telltale footsteps, no indication that anything was amiss. In fact, for the past six days, Peppermint HADN'T found anything out of the ordinary. The only thing he encountered during his predawn check was the peaceful sight of Princess Bubblegum sleeping soundly in her bed. And, accordingly, when Peppermint went to wake her, she took her customary amount of time to rouse fully before inviting him to enter. But Peppermint had a feeling that today was the day that his suspicions would be confirmed.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he turned the door-handle and eased the bedroom door open a fraction of an inch. He waited then, listening for any sounds from inside, but there was nothing. He snuck the door open a bit more, then paused, listening again. Once again, there was no change. He pushed the door open a bit more. A bit more. Just a bit more...
Finally, the door was open wide enough, and Peppermint Butler slipped inside.
And the first thing he saw inside the room was a pair of tight black jeans in a careless heap by the door. Raising one eyebrow, his eyes traveled over the rest of the floor. Sure enough, a converse shoe was sitting upside down underneath the open window. The other one had apparently been kicked into another corner of the room. There was a white shirt next to a red flannel button-down strewn near the foot of the bed, and a pair of black lace underwear near a pile of pink clothing to the side of the bed. Peppermint's view of the bed itself was blocked by a blanket piled up at the foot of it. He was too small to see properly from this angle.
It was clear what was going on here, but the butler needed to be certain. He picked his way carefully past the various articles of clothing, unfazed by the evidence of Princess Bubblegum's night-time activities. Years of service had made him immune to such inconsequential emotions as embarrassment.
He finally made it to the side of the bed. The two occupants had either neglected to use the sheets on the bed or kicked them off during the night, because Peppermint could see everything. Princess Bubblegum – a very naked Princess Bubblegum – was lying on her side facing towards Peppermint. Curled around her was an equally nude Vampire Queen, her mantle of hair splayed out behind her like a black fan. Marceline's arm was draped across the Princess' stomach, and their legs were tangled together.
At that moment, Marceline mumbled something in her sleep and moved about slightly. Her arm tightened briefly around Bubblegum's waist and she calmed, pressing her face closer into Bubblegum's hair. Bubblegum stirred at the movement but relaxed back into sleep as quickly as the vampire had.
Feeling more than a little voyeuristic by now, no matter how immune to embarrassment he was, Peppermint Butler made a quiet retreat and closed the door softly behind him.
So. He had been right all along. After all this time, and after swearing to the Candy Court that she would sever all ties with the vampire, Bonnibel had resumed her relationship with Marceline.
Peppermint smiled as he began the long walk back to the kitchens to prepare a special breakfast.
It was about damn time too.
On Peppermint's return journey from the kitchens, the castle had begun to stir. He didn't encounter anyone else on his way back to the Royal Bedchamber, but as he walked by closed doors he heard the unmistakable sounds of activity from the castle staff within.
The tiny butler was balancing a breakfast tray that was heavier than usual. For this morning, he had prepared a stack of fluffy pancakes for the Princess. Along with the covered plate of pancakes, he had a small pitcher of maple syrup, a dish of butter, a bowl of bright red strawberries, a vanilla milkshake, and a glass of tomato juice. The tray was heavy, but Peppermint had years of practice under his belt, so he had little trouble navigating the many staircases within the castle.
Once again outside of the Royal Bedchamber, Peppermint Butler took a moment to listen inside the room. He had made sure to arrive a full fifteen minutes earlier than he usually did. If he was right, and Marceline stayed for as long as she possibly could in the mornings, then she should be preparing to leave within the next five minutes. Knowing the Princess, she would probably allow a ten minute buffer in case Peppermint arrived slightly earlier than expected.
And indeed, he could hear the faint murmur of voices beyond the door, as well as the shuffle of feet as someone came close to the doorway, and then retreated again. Probably collecting the pants, if Peppermint had to guess. He waited another minute, allowing Marceline time to pull the pants on and get the rest of her clothing in order. Then the butler took a deep breath, knocked on the door, and maneuvered it open before the panicked "Just a minute!" could finish leaving Bubblegum's lips.
There was an old saying that Peppermint remembered from the early years before the Mushroom wars. It was used to describe a person too shocked to even be able to move. They were described as being 'like a deer caught in headlights' if memory served. An interesting phrase. It had fallen out of use within the first hundred years or so after the founding of the Candy Kingdom. But perhaps Peppermint should try bringing it back into fashion, because it perfectly described the two royal ladies in front of him now.
Bonnibel was sitting up in the bed, the pink sheet pulled up to her chest out of modestly. She had probably grabbed it when she realized whoever was outside was coming in anyway. Marceline was hovering slightly behind her, only half dressed. She was wearing the pants and the white shirt, but the flannel was hanging over her shoulder and she only had one shoe on. Both of them stared in utter disbelief as Peppermint entered the room, shut the door behind him, and calmly walked over to the breakfast table to put down the heavy tray.
He turned back to them, bowed deeply, and said, "Good morning, your Majesties. Breakfast is served."
Marceline fell out of the air and landed on the bed with a thump and the Princess opened and closed her mouth a few times. No words came out.
"Shall I give you a moment to get dressed and collect yourselves?" He prompted.
Mutely, Bubblegum nodded.
"Very good, your Majesty. I'll be right outside your door when you need me. And My Lady Marceline, please don't fly away. I have something I would like to say to both of you," he requested, looking the vampire in the eye. She nodded as well, and Peppermint turned and walked to the door to let himself out.
As the door was closing, he heard a belated, "Just call me Marceline!" before it snapped shut.
Peppermint then retreated a respectful distance down the hall and waited patiently for his Princess to be ready.
That moment came sooner than expected. The door peeked open and Bubblegum leaned out and waved Peppermint back into the room. He followed her in and stood in front of the two of them as Bubblegum – fully clothed at last – took a seat next to Marceline on the bed.
"So..." the Princess began. She trailed off and glanced at Marceline, worry touching at the corners of her eyes. Marceline slid her arm over and took Bubblegum's hand in her own, lacing their fingers together. The Princess took a deep breath and turned back to her butler. "So I've gotten back together with Marceline," she said firmly, as though she expected resistance despite the lack of hostility or accusation on Peppermint's part. Though it wasn't surprising. The Candy Court had not been kind when they told Bubblegum that she needed to break up with Marceline for the good of the kingdom.
Well, it was time to shock her then. "I, for one, couldn't be happier," Peppermint responded, just as firmly. Once again, Bubblegum was stunned into silence.
"Hey, I thought you guys hated me!" Marceline said, confusion and a touch of anger in her voice.
"Not quite," Peppermint shook his head, "The Candy Court decided that you were a distracting influence on the Princess that caused her to neglect a great many of her duties to the kingdom." Bubblegum hung her head, still shamed by the rebuke from long ago. "They agreed that the Princess should be encouraged to seek a partner who had more sympathy for her royal obligations."
"So then why are you being so nice to me," Marceline demanded, drawing even closer to Bubblegum.
"Because I am a butler," Peppermint explained proudly, drawing himself up. "I don't serve the kingdom. I serve the Princess. I saw how devastated she was when she was forced to send you away, and how heartbroken she was when you disappeared. I watched every day as she barely held herself together, and yet she managed it for the good of the kingdom. I watched her slowly learn to move on." Bubblegum squeezed Marceline's hand even tighter, still not looking at her or at Peppermint.
"But then I saw how she was when you returned," Peppermint continued, "I saw that she wasn't over you, though she tried to hide it. That she missed you terribly and couldn't handle how much she had hurt you. And now, here you both are, resolved to be together despite what the Candy Court wanted. Am I supposed to think that this is bad? All I can see is that my Princess seems happier than I have seen her in a hundred years." Peppermint watched carefully as the Princess looked up at Marceline, shy after Peppermint had laid their entire breakup so bare. Marceline too had a faint blush in her cheeks.
"What else can I say?" Peppermint concluded, spreading his hands wide, "You, Marceline, make my Princess happier than anyone else I have ever seen, despite what the rest of her subjects may think." Marceline tore her gaze away from Bubblegum's, and looked back at him. Bubblegum turned as well and rested her head on Marceline's shoulder. "I serve the Princess," Peppermint repeated, "And I support anything that makes her happy. I will support the both of you when you decide it is time to tell the rest of the Candy Kingdom about your relationship."
"Thank you," Bubblegum whispered, tears standing in her eyes.
"Yeah, thanks," Marceline said, just as sincere.
Peppermint Butler bowed. "It is both my duty and my pleasure," he responded formally. "And feel free to remain in the mornings. I imagine that it's exhausting to wake up so early after such... energetic evenings," he said knowingly. This time, Bubblegum's blush was fierce, and Marceline grinned wickedly, glancing over at the flustered Princess.
"But I do suggest," Peppermint warned, serious again, "That you learn from the past. If you want to be together, and for the rest of the kingdom to accept your relationship, you're going to have to make sure that you don't repeat the same mistakes as you did when you were younger. That means no more playing hookey." He leveled his stern gaze at the Princess, "Especially not for a week at a time." Bubblegum nodded quickly. Peppermint turned to Marceline, "And no more mean pranks on the Candy Citizens, no matter what they say to you."
"Yeah, sure, fine," Marceline agreed reluctantly. "Not my fault they can't take a joke," she muttered under her breath. Bubblegum nudged her and she rolled her eyes.
"If you want the Candy People to accept you, you're going to have to earn it," Peppermint advised. He looked at them for a moment longer, then smiled. "But I think you both have learned that it will be worth the effort." They didn't look at one another, but he knew that they wanted to. It was probably time for him to take his leave.
"How about you take the morning off, your Majesty? There's not much to do today anyway."
"Oh, no I couldn't possibly..." Bubblegum began. But then Peppermint held up his hand.
"Please, I insist. I am quite capable of running things for one morning. And I sense that the two of you have a great deal you wish to talk about." He paused, "Or maybe talking wasn't what you had in mind," he added thoughtfully, smiling as another brilliant blush lit up the Princess' cheeks. Marceline gave him a surreptitious thumbs up, and Peppermint Butler chuckled.
"I'll just take my leave now, if your Majesties don't mind."
"Our Majesties don't," Marceline supplied sardonically.
"Very good." Peppermint Butler bowed, "I'll instruct the rest of the staff to leave you alone for the morning, and to avoid this hallway altogether. It wouldn't do for anyone to hear any... unusual sounds," he hinted delicately. Bubblegum seemed to be doing her best imitation of a tomato at this point. "Oh, and one final thing," Peppermint added, unable to resist, "Make sure that at least one of the things you eat this morning is your breakfast." Marceline snorted with laughter while Bubblegum buried her face in her hands, not even able to look at him.
Peppermint chuckled again, then turned and headed to the door. He opened it, stepped outside, then glanced back in in time to see Marceline coax Bubblegum out of hiding with a tender kiss against the palm of her hand. Bubblegum lifted her head and leaned in to kiss Marceline fully, their lips moving together slowly.
Peppermint Butler smiled and closed the door gently behind him.