A.N. Hello, for the last time! (with this story, at least) I would like to thank so much everyone who read this story and took the time to review. It really and truly made my life just a bit brighter. So I thank you again and again! Don't expect too much from this, since it will be completely diverted from the original fairy tale and completely my own.

It's short and sweet, and hopefully you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: Seriously, dude. I can't believe I have been living my whole near two decades of life without Mr Darcy in them. How have I lived? How have I lived? As a side note, I don't own Maid Sama! any more than I used to!


Exploiting Roses

Misaki sat crouched in the darkest corner she could find, her heart beating just as erratically as her lungs were. She had long gotten used to the chill of the palace, and as of late it was becoming warmer and warmer, what with Usui no longer freezing the flowers. It was still a dark and cold place, but it was one Misaki could content herself with calling home.

Right now, however, her breath was glittering the air, and she had rather been anywhere but there.

Because, as Usui had so casually put it at dinner that evening, there appeared to be a ghost on the premises.

And that, my friends, dropped Misaki's core body temperature to almost absolute zero.

It was a maid who had innocently acquired as to why the pots and pans in the kitchen were in different places than where they were placed.

It was a soldier who unceremoniously said that deep in many of the halls there could be heard giggling of children and malicious laughter, though the halls were...vacant...

Usui heard all this with a look of amusement. Misaki tried to join in, tried to laugh with him, but her hands were shaking and her face was paler than freshly landed snow.

"Misaki?" Usui asked, a concerned looked crossing his face. "Are you all right?"

"Fine!" she squeaked, standing abruptly. "Why should I be afraid of ghosts? I'm not afraid of ghosts, of course. Not at all. I don't even believe in them. Not one bit! So don't you dare think that I do! I-I'm just so full that...that I want to take a bath! That's it. A bath."

Usui, catching on quickly to her strange behavior, soon dropped his concern and picked up some other reaction. One that made him smirk. "But, Misa-chan, it's pretty late. And, as you can see, everyone is eating."

Misaki raised an eyebrow. "So?"

"Well, you'd just be going to the bath by yourself. Down said haunted halls. But please, don't let us stop you from your...recently acquired after dinner bath."

Misaki was growing more and more pale at every word that spilled from his wicked, wicked mouth. "W-well, maybe I should wait, then..." She sat back down slowly, looking not too sure of herself.

The room looked at Misaki in a confused silence. Usui, after a moment of him smiling at his bride, went back to eating. The room followed suit, all but Misaki, who was looking around the room for any suspicious movement.

Every shadow moved. Every sound was a childish giggle. An evil laugh. Her plate, had it always been that close to her? Did it move a fraction of a centimeter? She couldn't tell! She couldn't tell!

And then, from behind her, a rustle of movement. She started in her chair, whipping around. "What was that?" she hissed to Usui.

"What was what, my dear?" he asked innocently.

Though Misaki was grated by his tone, she couldn't see anything that could've caused the rustle, so she assumed it was her imagination and told him it was nothing.

But not five seconds later, something touched her shoulder. She screamed rather girlishly, standing from her chair so abruptly that it fell to the ground.

"Um, Misaki, I was just going to ask you to pass the salt. No need to overreact." And he, he, was grinning at her, and she just exploded.

"You! You—you—you—ah! I—I can't believe you just—" She couldn't take it anymore. Every part of her body was running too quickly for her to even think properly, and she was forced to leave the room. "I'm taking my bath! And Usui, you better stay right where you are! Twenty feet away from me!" Then she stormed out of the room so quickly that you'd've thought she already had the ghost on her heels.

Which, you know, maybe she had.


Not ten minutes later, as Misaki was walking briskly down to the bath (thinking maybe it would clear her head well enough that she might be able to act civil again), she heard footsteps behind her and ran down any hallway she could find and through any doorway that wasn't making a sound. She finally found her self in some unknown shadowed corner, lost and cold and scared.

But at least it was quiet and she was alone. She hoped.

"Okay," she said to herself after a while. "Okay. I think I'm good. I think I can start—"

And that was when she heard the footsteps again and her rationality froze up. She was just about to forfeit running and just fight the damn thing when suddenly it embraced her.

"Wha—"

"To think your fear would take you this far. Even I had some trouble finding you, and this is my castle."

"Usui!" she exclaimed, and before she could stop herself she was grateful he was here. She even snaked her arms around him and hugged him back. "Thank goodness!"

But the feeling lasted for about a second, and she soon pushed him off. "Were you following me?" she asked suddenly.

Usui shrugged. "I was curious. I didn't think you were afraid of anything."

She bristled. "Do you find my fear amusing?"

"Maybe."

Misaki balled her hands, ready to strike him. He held his hands up in surrender, trying not to laugh at her expression of rage. "Don't fret, Misaki. I won't tease you anymore after this."

But Misaki knew him better than that. "For what?" she inquired, for he never did things so easily for free.

"For a kiss," he replied simply.

She blushed instantly. "No!" she shouted, and looked away from him. Of course she's kissed him before, sometimes even willingly. So she wasn't exactly sure why she was rejecting him now. It must have been her fear to make her refuse.

Usui sighed regretfully. "Then I guess I'll just have to leave you here...alone...in the dark...deserted...hallway..." His voice got progressively quieter as he spoke, lower also, and Misaki's heart rate rose.

When he was done speaking, it was all they could hear, Misaki's heart.

And then...a loud BANG from down the hall.

Misaki screamed again. Without thinking, surprising both herself and Usui, she grasped the collar of his shirt and placed a crushing yet brief kiss to his lips. "There!" she exclaimed. "Now please! Take me out of here!"

Usui, still a bit in shock, took her hand and ran them down many twists and turns until they made it to his quarters. Misaki, still breathing heavily, stood without a word until she was calmed down.

"Thank you," she grumbled once she was settled. Usui had gone to change into his pajamas (which now had to include a shirt) and when he reentered the room, he ventured to stand in front of Misaki and she offered her thanks.

Smiling kindly at her now, he held out something to her. "My pleasure," he said.

Misaki took what was offered without hesitation. In her hands now was not a frozen flower, but a flower made out of ice.

Misaki didn't say anything at first. Just looked at the flower. Usui, tired of all the silence, continued speaking. "Consider it an apology for all my teasing."

"It's a sly gift," Misaki said, smiling slightly. Usui, satisfied that she was now speaking again, began walking over to his bed, getting it ready for them to sleep in.

"I had hoped you'd like it." He gestured for her to come closer, and she did.

"Unfortunately, you did make it pretty much perfect." It was in the shape of a rose, and even the word perfect didn't quite do it justice.

Usui got into bed, pulling the covers up to lap as he was not lying down yet. "Yes. I know."

Misaki looked over at Usui, scrunching up her face. She too took up the same position as him, sitting up against the head board, still clutching the frozen flower in her hand. "Not going to say thank you?" she ventured teasingly.

Usui reached over to run his hand through Misaki's hair before settling it on her shoulder. He grinned his wolfish grin at her.

"For a kiss, maybe."