The Mistress

March 13th 1888

A cold wind blew over the trees of the mansion's garden, the direction of the rain pouring changing. The lights of the lampposts were flicking on and off, the only light source of the mile-long mansion pavement that lead to the large gates was going out. The darkness was starting to cover the entire neighbourhood, occasionally belittling into shadows when the lightning flashed.

The rain can't get any stronger than this, though: It's been raining for weeks, and this must be the hardest downpour yet: Although, the water rose from an inch to an ankle-length over the night.

Even so, the guards of the mansion had still managed to keep themselves at their posts to watch over the suspicious passers-by who are most likely the next house's intruders or something.

But that didn't stop this specific person to materialise from the shadows.

He gave a small grunt when he found his cloak wet with the rain, but made sure to not be heard. His shoes were wet, too, and they were leather. Well, he thought, smirking as his piercing blue eyes glinted in the dark, this is not the time to be vain.

There was no other place to look for a job: This was it. He'd tried everything else: Painting, sculpting, pottery, cleaning, serving, waiting. . . They just weren't him. He was a naturally clumsy boy, but can be sly when it came to what he knew best, coming from the streets. . .

Everyone knows sweets are sweeter when stolen.

He made sure to comb his hair with what he could when he saw the advertisement at the sign post earlier: His unknowing client must be very firm when it came to proper etiquette, and he had to be at his very best behaviour. This was his last chance to nail a job, and he can't afford to make a misfire.

He pulled his hood over his head and motioned to the wall, leaning his back against it. He could hear audible whispers coming from the guards at the other side of the wall, and smirked when he concluded that they were distracted. The lightning flashed, and the thunder roared: The sound was deafening, and he had to cover his ears so that he won't lose a sense.

One of the guards asked the other, "Some storm, eh?"

"Tell me 'bout it, mate."

What pathetic guards, they were drunk. Getting in was much easier than he'd thought it'd be.

He vanished into the shadows as he snuck in, leaving no trace of his presence.

There were times when she'd suddenly wake up at night, shivering from the cold. She didn't think they'd start happening again: These pitiful dreams. When will she ever get over them? A cold shiver ran down her spine again, and she massaged her arms to keep herself warm.

Her nightgown was specially made, and imported from France: She'd heard the silk from France kept bad dreams away, but she hated herself for believing such superstitions. But, all the more, she hated memories.

A thumping sound was heard at the door —

She gasped, clutching her chest. Good God, she was covered in sweat: She needed a change, but she had guessed her servants were asleep, and she didn't even know how to button herself, let alone put on the fabric.

She lay down on her bed again, her head being squished deeper in the cushion.

"Tsk, ghosts. . ." she murmured, turning to her other side of the bed, "Never even bother to check if they exist."

She slowly closed her eyes, her vision darkening: She really wanted to sleep, but she can't. Her room was so quiet, she felt her heart beating, and they boomed out of her ears: Aside from that noise, her grandfather clock across the room was ticking loudly, and she can't sleep without someone singing her nightly lullaby. Besides, her windows were locked, and the rain's noise won't ever get through.

Slowly, though, she was drifting off to an unconscious sleep, and she felt at peace once again.

Silence to her seemed louder than anything in the world, like a kind of noise, but this was the only time when she felt that silence was a sort of music, played by God's angels. How she wished the night would stay this beautiful, how the sounds were in harmony, synchronising with the silence's melody: The night's beauty was so —

"Oh dammit!"

. . .fleeting.

Her eyes fluttered open, and she woke with a start: She'd heard something hit her floor, and she was jolted awake. Well! This better be worth her cut of beauty sleep — ahem, not like she needed them. . . Heh.

"Excuse me!" the girl cried, rubbing her eyes lazily and yawning, but that didn't stop the shock and anger from rising in her voice. "But what are your concerns for breaking in my household at this time of night? This is no way to treat a daughter of a lord!"

When she opened her eyes, her heart stopped: In the moonlight, she could see — from what little she can — a young man in a strapping cloak, wearing a black vest over a sort of button-down shirt that had long sleeves. His presence would have been exciting — stimulating, even — had he not fallen to the floor from her open window. He was massaging his sore head with his hand, and while he was, the girl decided to take her time studying the boy's features: He must've been around her age, older or so, and had as light blond hair as she did. He didn't look . . . scary, that's for sure. Well, creepy, in her opinion, but in another kind of way. She also noticed he was wearing everything as black, to maybe conceal his movements and figure in the dark.

He was dressed rather appropriately for someone who was trying to steal her stuff.

The boy gave a grunt, and he looked up at the girl, who pulled up her covers so he wouldn't see her in her . . . lingerie thing. His eyes widened and he got up, and it was then the girl realised he was sopping wet, and it just occurred to her that it had been raining outside. But what she said didn't exactly mirror what she thought.

"What in the world are you doing, you rat? You're getting my carpet wet!" she shrieked as quietly as she could: She didn't know why, though. Must she be calling the servants now? Why wasn't she?

"Ah, s-sorry, my lady!"

The boy stumbled for words, apparently not able to see in the dark seeing as he stepped on her clothing rack and it clattered to the floor.

The girl threw her covers to the bed and stood up, almost giggling at the sight: This boy sure was foolish. She decided to make fun of him more and added, "The rain's going to get inside, what are you doing?"

"R-right to it!"

This is official: She hadn't laughed this hard since, well, ever. The boy hit his face on the windowsill and, after recovering, closed the windows until his finger got caught.

He let out a loud swear, and he started to whimper like a lost puppy.

"That was fun!" the girl giggled, closing her mouth. The boy flushed a deep colour of red, and he turned away to hide his blush. "But that doesn't mean you're getting away with this, thief."

"I-I'm not a thief!" he protested weakly, biting his sore fingers. That wasn't very convincing, though. When someone crashes into your house — through window, no less — in the middle of the night, it's not like they came for tea. "I swear to God, I'm not! At least, not accidentally!"

"What rubbish are you saying?" the girl snapped, yawning. "I'm giving you ten counts until you get your sorry bottom outside —"

"I came here for a proposal!"

The girl stopped, and stared at the lunatic as though he'd just gone crazier. Then she pushed him to her door, ignoring his spluttering, "I'm not here to give anyone my hand in marriage, thanks, but I'm awfully flattered — well, not really — so if you'd just get your sorry arse out —"

"NO!" The boy fell to his knees, hugging the girl's legs — the girl gave a loud yelp as he did, snapping her legs together in embarrassment — she was wearing this long nightgown that was transparent, so, yeah — and pressed his face against her thighs.

"G-get away, you r-rude idiot!" she screeched, blushing madly when he hugged her legs tighter.

"No! Not until you hear me out!" he said. He was either a pervert or he didn't really know what he was doing.

"OKAY, OKAY!" she yelled, not wanting for the boy to get any further up, if you know what this means. The boy gasped and stood up, straightening himself: Of course, he wasn't aware what he just did.

"Y-you will?" the boy said, his eyes sparkling with hope.

"Hell no." The girl unlocked her door and shoved him outside, but he just let himself back in.

The girl was tapping her foot impatiently. "God, you're aggravating."

The boy smiled weakly and combed his hair with his fingers and bowed, his wet cloak fluttering heavily behind him. He looked as though he rehearsed this, seeing as he looked so practised with these kinds of things.

"I am here to make a proposal, my Lady," he said, again, and he rose, standing straight with his shoulders squared. To the girl, she concluded that he was simply just caught in the spur of the moment and hadn't brought himself up to act like a gentleman until this point. Judgemental as she was, she had thought he was simply a clumsy, incompetent fool: But she stood there corrected. "I will not have come here at this time of night in this mansion where the highest security is placed and can barely be breeched had it been about anything else."

The girl nodded, trying to find faults in his words, but was irritated when she found none at all. No hesitation, no lie: It seemed as though this boy had arranged for everything to go well this night. Had he been an ordinary housebreaker, he would have killed her at the spot. Or worse.

"I have read the signs posted at the buildings across the city, and I'd gone directly to the place indicated." His voice was smooth, like he was a kind of servant who had just gone back from an assignment and she was the master. "I've read the heir of this mansion was looking for a servant."

"Who will give me everything I ask for," the girl supplied, recalling the words she herself had recited for her servants to write. He was good. And he must have been desperate enough to find a job. The boy nodded firmly, but, unable to look at her eyes without blushing, he looked like he was nodding stiffly. The girl stood at her ground, scratching her chin, and half-glanced at the grandfather clock that sat at the corner of the room: She could barely see the face, but the moonlight gave off enough light to cast shadows, and the girl could only guess that it's already a quarter after midnight.

"You could have come later," the girl mumbled absently, feeling herself go dizzy with sleepiness. "But you didn't. I'd guess you came this night so you can get here before any other applicants do, no?"

The boy opened his mouth to reply, but the girl cut him off, "And, perhaps, to persuade me, if things somehow go wrong? Yes, that sounds predictable. A romantic night when rain is pouring heavily — the moon can't give off much light through the clouds except dimly, and at a time when every servant is asleep. You know well of this, don't you?"

The boy blinked: Then, unable to hold himself, he smirked. "Yes."

The girl sneered: She could easily figure anyone out. "And what makes you think I'll let you in on the job?"

"I'm the best."

"That's what they all say."

That was when chills ran down the girl's spine: The boy had moved so quickly, she didn't see how he could have pinned her to the wall with her wrists gripped by his hands. She felt his hot breath tickle her neck, but she was so used to this, she was unaffected: She suppressed a smile, the corner of her mouth twitching. "I have to say, your skills are incomparable."

The boy didn't move: He was too busy staring into her deep blue eyes. The girl, however, didn't notice this and was unfazed.

"And how do you intend to get me all that I want?" The girl said, testing the boy. "I'm a spoiled, stubborn daughter of a lord. This may be hard for you, you know."

The boy's grip on her wrists tightened: She felt like screaming at their closure, but she might give herself away.

"I know it's going to be difficult," the boy whispered, sighing. "But I've got no other ways of living."

The girl felt her heart explode: What was he saying?

"Didn't you hear me, you wet rat?" she said as the boy's wet clothes pressed against her thighs. "How do you intend to get me everything I ask for?"

The boy looked like he was ashamed of his 'expertise,' like a child who just stole a lollipop from his friend. "You're willing to give me my job?"

He's sly. "We'll see about that."

The boy hesitated, and suddenly, warmth spread all over the girl's body. "What if, by some circumstances, you won't? What if I fail to convince you, or if you refuse my method?"

He was leading her to something illegal, and she knew it. "Will you be loyal? Will you ever leave me?"

The boy's grip loosened on her wrists, which was both a relief and a sort of disappointment to the girl, but he inched his face closer to hers. "I'll always be by your side. . ."

His nose was pressed against hers now, and his lips were mere centimetres from hers, "And I'll never leave you. . ."

"Hold up, Pauper."

The girl had unrealistically managed to get away from his grip and had pressed her hand against his soft lips: The expression on his face was comical.

"I need to know how you think you're going to give me all I want," the girl demanded, her hands on her hips. She was back to her old demanding self again, the boy realised. He shouldn't have expected anything less of her; she's the daughter of a lord, after all. "Or else I'm calling the servants."

The boy panicked, yet he kept his composure and said, "Promise you won't tell anyone?"

"I don't have much of a choice," the girl snapped, glancing at her clock again.

The boy sighed, and said, "It's my way of life. All those who consider it forbidden don't know its advantages, but all those who consider it a way of living know both its benefits and burdens.

"Will you hate me now? I'm a thief."

Len couldn't believe he was actually hired. He stripped off his cloak and squeezed it, releasing the water: His first duty was to make sure to arrive at his mistress's gates by 9 o'clock the next day. That took him quite a while: That was a first.

He'd heard of the great Oliver Langley the fifteenth, one of the lords in London. He had changed his name, however, to Kagamine, concealing his infamous family's ancestral crimes. Many still consider him as a Langley, ignoring his antecedents' past deeds and regarding him as a great person. He had married a Japanese woman, much to his family's displeasure, but didn't regret his decision. They gave birth to a beautiful baby girl with identical blond hair to her parents.

Len had had a thought, though: There must be a relation between this lord's girl and himself. He figured since a lord has a connection with anyone around the globe, they might know who his parents are. And, if they still are alive, he might as well live with them so he could at least get shelter and food every boy deserved.

Living in the streets wasn't very rewarding, to be honest. Len coughed loudly, wiping dirt off his face as he placed his wet clothes on the iron board he, for lack of better word, borrowed from this cranky old lady across the street. He'd never owned anything: All the neat clothes he had were from the store nearby, and he had to use them again to make a better figure to the lord's daughter.

The rain poured down heavily, but it was worse a while ago: Len had to sleep; he had a big day tomorrow. But he knew he had more work to do. He hadn't eaten anything for a while now. There was this bakery at the corner of the street, but the chefs there ratted him out already.

He sighed and, looking over his shoulder for a second, stripped off his vest and unbuttoned his shirt: Sleeping in his 'professional' clothes won't do him anything. He folded them neatly and put them at the corner of the alley — he lived in the alley — and went over to the chicken wire that hung from the lamppost and tied to the garbage bin and took one of the shirts that he hung there.

Life for him was enough, and it's going to get better tomorrow, he always thought to himself before he let sleep come to him. He lied down on the cotton bed that he recycled from the dump.

He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come, but he was so excited about the next day he couldn't sleep to let the night pass. He hoped he wouldn't screw up this time.

The last thing that came to his mind before he went out of the state of consciousness was how he still didn't get his mistress's name.

Kagamine Rin yawned. Heavens, how long was she asleep? Too long, that's for sure: Her servants had already gathered around her bed, and she was certain there must have been a commotion, seeing as most of them were still in their nightwear.

"Would you keep your dirty faces from pressing against mine?" Anybody who knew her well knew she wasn't a morning person, and unfortunately never will be. Her maids immediately raised their heads and apologised profusely, bowing down.

"We're s-sorry, our Lady," they said in chorus. Rin waved her hand loftily and held her nose high.

"Explain."

There was another explosion of different explanations from different persons, and Rin, irritated with the noise, raised her hand again, scowling. One of her head maids, who was probably the only one who had been dressed in the proper uniform, took one step forward and said rather meekly, "Th-there was an intruder last night, Madam."

Rin's eyebrows were almost a straight line now. "An intruder? Surely you don't mean to say that the guards failed to —"

The maids started to whisper accusations at each other again and Rin shot her hand up in the air. "I assure you, Maids, none of you will lose your jobs."

They all gave a sigh of relief.

Rin thought about this for a moment, and recalled everything last night.

"I'm a thief."

That sounded perfect: Just what she wanted.

She rubbed her temples and gritted her teeth: She was still supposed to meet that boy later.

"Melissa! Meredith!" she called, sliding off her bed and standing straight. Two particular maids nodded at each other and went to her sides respectively. It was Rin's bath time.

"Yes, our Lady."

All of the maids aside from the two by her side left in a line, followed by Rin and the two.

When they came to the hall, the first impression of an ignorant commoner would be the mansion's resemblance to a dome: The mistress's room was as large as the ring hole in the middle of the second floor of the mansion, but the only space between them was the hall. Rin's manor was relatively large, even for a daughter of a lord; there was a gigantic mantelpiece that lit the entire six-floor mansion that could be seen at the ceiling of the sixth floor itself through the ring hole. The corners of the hole were fitted out with embellished gold railings to fence out anybody who might accidentally drop there. On the walls of the hall, there were hundreds — literally hundreds — of portraits hung of royals and ancestors, sometimes associated with an exaggerated background that consisted of commoners bowing at their feet, giving the impression that this house was a property of a respected person. Nobody can afford this much glamour in one floor alone, much less an entire 10-hectare of land, except maybe the queen herself. The house outside was painted, to the master's choice, black, because its shade was forbidding, and it brought him memories of his old childhood past that he tried so hard to forget. In the inside, however, there was no square foot in the mansion that wasn't of the colour of yellow: Rin was this particular type who preferred everything in her favourites, and if no one wants to go her way, she wants them punished. And her father was this particular type who just about spoils her. Rooms were across every corner of the hall: And there were two more halls that lead to the other sides of the mansion: On the left and the right, leading to more halls and more rooms. The ceiling of the second floor was much more pronounced, as this was the floor where the house masters and mistresses slumber. Of course, right at the moment, only Rin was the one vacating the second floor. But as she's prone to easily getting nightmares, she let her maids sleep at the Third Guests' room, as they rarely had any visitors — yes, there were First and Second Guest Rooms that were currently not occupied by anybody. On the first floor of the mansion, only the Kitchen, the Dining Room, several lavatories, the Living Room and the Library were there. The staircase that leads to the other floors was great and grand as well, usually exploding with scarlet and gold colours: There was not a room in the house that was any other colour. Well, except maybe the pink colour Rin decided to take a liking to; that's how princesses live. But pink was a shade of red, right? And gold was to yellow. The mansion is very quiet: No one actually makes any noise here unless the mistress — also known as Rin, in case — throws a tantrum. Occasionally, too, there were times when the mistress wanted to be a bit entertained, so she instructs the maids and servants to play chess at the third floor: There was a room there that was literally a huge chessboard, so the mistress usually lets her servants be the chess pieces. That always kept her entertained. The fourth floor was full of family heirlooms and such, so it's usually not used. The fifth floor, though, was sort of the sports room: As adventurous as the mistress was, she goes up there and learns to spar with one of her trained servants. The sixth floor was full of rooms filled with devices such as the telescope and maps used to navigate, and of course there was the master's office. And so here ends the longest paragraph ever written.

The bathroom was right across the hall, and Rin wanted to get soaked in the orange-scented, bubbly tub right now. Her sandals on the carpet made shoving noises as she elegantly walked to her bathroom, her maids following her suit, each of them bringing bathroom amenities from God knows where.

"M-my Lady. . ." Rin stopped walking and held her nose higher before turning to one of her maids. "What brings you to wake up this early in the morning, if you mind my asking?"

Finding a lie for that would have been easy, but Rin decided to speak the truth, anyway, because she found nothing wrong worth lying about.

"There will be a guest this morning, and I want all of you at your best behaviours," she ordered sharply. The said maid clasped her hands together and gasped. The one next to her asked Rin, "A guest? And what business is his that requires this household?"

"That's sadly it, really: He's a commoner who was looking for a job, and he found our flyers." And with that, Rin motioned for the both of them to keep quiet and continue walking with her. They bowed their heads and did as they were gestured to.

The silence that followed may unease normal people, but Rin was used to silences: She hated it, but it can't be helped. Once they passed by several rooms already, and had made it to the end of the hall, they entered the last room.

The door creaked.

Rin gave a loud grunt, "I want this door varnished and oiled, Meredith, is that clear?"

The maid to her right looked surprised. "Excuse me, my Lady, but having it oiled repeatedly doesn't change how old it already is."

The mistress scoffed and sighed, stepping into the marble bathroom floor. "All right, but I want that door torn down this afternoon and replaced by a newer, shinier one. Got that?"

Meredith looked like she supressed the urge to giggle. "Of course, Madam."

That's right, folks: Rin Kagamine may have been spoiled, cruel, unkind, antagonistic, devilish, and inconsiderate — okay, you get the point — but the maids who'd known her longest knew better than to argue with the young mistress: Her tantrums and demanding commands were merely childish antiques to them. Besides, before everything had gone wrong, she was this happy, bubbly child who won't go anywhere without a smile on her face. And it had to happen. . .

"What are you smiling at, Meredith?" Rin snapped, noticing the corners of her mouth twitching. "Start undressing me, why don't you?"

Rin was getting very impatient: There was a wall clock at the edge of the bathroom that said it was already a quarter to nine, and a lady shan't be late. Especially this lady. The bathroom was, as anyone would have guessed or had enough common sense to know, very wide and spacious: The cat-footed tub was at the very centre of the room and it looked about three feet deep. Even though there was only one person who was allowed to use this bathroom, the said person being obviously Rin, the glamour and hugeness wasn't lacked at all. Sophisticated carvings were etched around the circumference of the tub, each emphasising the letter 'L' rather lavishly. It was the family emblem, and Rin knew better than to wonder why her father made the carver mark it there: Even though the Langley family was infamous for its ancestral crimes and past misdeeds, her father's name was still Oliver Langley, and what his family did won't affect his choices. But, what Rin did wonder was why her father chose to use his wife's surname, Kagamine.

At the corner of the bathroom were counters full of shampoo bottles that were shipped from France, soap from Italy, and no one could possibly use all those in one lifetime.

The mirror was most extraordinary: It had been one of the family's most treasured heirlooms. It was placed at the farthest corner of the room, on the wall facing the door directly: Indeed, it was so large it fit the entire wall.

"Yes, my Lady." Meredith bowed courteously and Melissa hastily went to get a towel while Meredith undressed Rin.

He was so late. He'd overslept and had woken an hour later than he was supposed to, and now he was busy brushing his teeth — using a brush not stolen, obviously — in a hurry: He had to make an impression on the Lady. He just had to.

Len picked up the glass of tap water and gurgled: Spitting the toothpaste into the creek, he sipped some more water and spat once more. He wiped the excess paste off his face with his sleeve and was troubled with knotting his bowtie, accidentally almost strangling himself.

He stood, tucking his shirt in his black pants. Len almost slipped until he caught himself, putting his vest on before he ran back up to the bridge.

This Lady was going to kill him. A sudden image of her towering over him with a non-existent carriage-thing with wheels too large for the mechanism appeared in his mind vividly: Then he remembered his dream.

Len tripped, almost hitting the ground but pulled himself back up in the process of falling: The slope was a bit steep — okay, a lot — but it was his only access to water. He may be a pauper but that doesn't mean he had to act like one. Or smell like one. He carried a neatly folded cloak on his right arm and a bowler hat on the other to add some spice. Girls like men with bowler hats, don't they?

When he reached the end of the slope, he was already at the bridge of London: Fresh air greeted him, and a sight to see. Fellow Londoners were off to their work, usually greeting each other as they passed by. The street of Regent Circus wasn't as packed as all the others were. The people who lived here were pleasant, and they occasionally give the poor who sleep at the streets some porridge. Len favoured this part of London, since it makes him feel like he was loved, when in reality he truly wasn't. He conspicuously didn't have, and can never attain the stance all the other boys had, the latter having the air of being well-cared for, which Len had so evidently lacked. The bay was just at the other end of the bridge, under which Len had long decided to do his personal necessities, if you know what this means, such as bathing and brushing his teeth. Of course, he had to do it under low profile, because he didn't want any ladies to get scarred for life.

The street was full of vendors who were giving out low-priced food. However, Len didn't stoop as low as stealing food from them: He had to nail down a restaurant rich with food, not some poor man's shop. He may be a thief, but he wasn't heartless. Len slung his cloak over himself and fastened the button that secured the fabric. He twirled his bowler hat and put it on his head, smoothing down his bangs.

The road that leads to the mistress's mansion across the houses down the lane was made of bricks. Oddly redundant, Len thought, his shiny shoes' heels tapping on the road. But effective.

Now, how late was he? Len looked around the streets for a view of Big ol' Ben, but spotted a flower shop instead. A little smirk played his lips: He can spare a minute or two, eh? Mistress would love to have him for a servant now. . .

"Absolutely no morals. . . Such a lying, deceitful peasant. . . So much for the Y chromosome. . . So rude. . . Keeps a lady waiting. . .

"Where on earth is that boy?" Rin screeched at no one in particular. Her servants were already back to their work, although some had chosen to eavesdrop on the mistress's rants, waiting for some . . . well, scene to follow when the unfortunate, unknowing, stupid applicant comes. The young mistress was already very well dressed, sadly: She had even expected the boy to come earlier than she'll finish her bath, so she was 'dolled' up, as some might say. Donning a strapless pink dress that reached the floor, with fluffy white layers and lacy ribbons around her waist and her sleeves; if she wasn't mistaken for a princess, she will be now. Her ribbon was tied purposely on the side of her head tilted a little to the left, making her look a bit childish, but it was an idea not claimed by Rin but her servants.

She stomped her foot, irritated. "I swear, if that boy won't show his ugly arse —"

The door opened, and the second she saw a flash of blond hair, Rin started to react like Medusa.

"How do you think I'll accept you in your job if you keep being late like this?" Rin practically pushed the boy up against the wall: She'd know that dirty blond hair anywhere. Last night, she didn't get a fair view of his face, but now, she had the time to examine him: He really did look like he was older than her, about fourteen or so, with identical blond shades of hair and cerulean eyes. He had quite a stub chin, she must say: Most boys his age must grow a moustache or a beard by now. There was a sort of odd impression he had with him that almost influenced Rin to get hypnotised by him, but she shook that thought away. Unlike most boys, though, he carries an atmosphere around, a tense atmosphere: He didn't look like he was too used to having things proper, and, for Rin, just one delicate influence on him might just shatter his entire being. He was pale, though. Had Rin guessed wrong about him living in the streets? No, she must be right. There wasn't usually a very fair weather in London. Living in the streets will just make his figure a whole lot worse; being in the rain with no shelter. In fact, he was almost as pale as she was. He didn't look as lean as the others did, either. On the contrary, he looked like a fragile child. But he's a lot stronger than he looks, by the way he pinned Rin against the wall last night with such agility, too. The boy's hair was very unruly: He looked like he hadn't combed it for quite a long time. With such a tousled mass for hair, he would have easily been mistaken as a Neanderthal had he not been wearing such formal clothes and a hat to hide it, for all Rin cared.

And . . . they remained staring into each other's eyes for how long?

"A-ah, sorry, my Lady," he apologised, stuttering. He removed his bowler hat and revealed a mass of tousled blond hair that smelled of — what was that faint scent? — Bananas. "It's just that, you know, I b-bought these for you."

Before Rin could react, he pulled out a bouquet of chrysanthemum from behind his back and smiled sheepishly.

"I thought you might like them."

Rin cautiously picked the bouquet — surprising the eavesdropping maids who she knew were listening since she always, like, snatches stuff from anyone's hands — and sniffed them.

"Hmm, I prefer orange-scented. . ." she mumbled absently, losing herself from reality at the strong fragrance.

"I bought them on the way here —"

Rin smiled. Like, not a warm smile, but a creepy evil one. "Liar."

"W-what?"

Rin turned her heel, smiling sincerely now, "You need to lie a whole lot better if you want to continue this job of yours."

The boy gulped. He adjusted his tie and looked at his shoes. "I do. But you're just so good."

"I'm sure you're aware that my father once served in the court?" It pained Rin to talk about her father in such a straight and calm way, but she had to make a good impression on this boy. Show no weakness. She snapped her gloved fingers and a group of servants appeared out of nowhere, taking the bouquet and placing them in the nearest flower pot.

The boy looked bewildered, and cleared his throat loudly.

"I am, Ma'am."

"We shall talk in the Living Room." Rin lead the way, acting like a lady. This was business: She can't let her new servant figure her out. It would be like losing a chess game. The boy closed the two great doors and followed her suit. Behind her, Rin could hear him gasp in the quietest manner, but audible enough to be heard. She supressed a smile and an urge to taunt him: She was a lady. Together, they walked in silence at the hall, where, instead of a ceiling, a huge ring hole greeted them from above: The gigantic chandelier hung from the sixth floor, showing no signs of swaying. The marble floor was polished so cleanly the boy behind her almost slipped.

"Try not to slip on the floor, why don't you," Rin said, her voice echoing in the entire mansion. The first floor's Living Room was just a few halls away.

They turned right to enter the second hall and unique tapestries greeted them: All the windows in the mansion were floor to ceiling high, and, right now, as they walked silently but in awe — for the boy — through the hall, they already passed by several rooms, a few windows, and about a hundred paintings.

There were lights at each corner to illuminate the path ahead, once it became dark, the boy supposed. There were ginormous flower pots that sat at the very side of the paintings, and perfectly healthy flowers were planted, despite the lack of oxygen in the mansion.

Which struck the boy as odd.

They reached to a certain point of the hall where there was absolutely abundant light — compared to the other points of the mansion, since it was still dim — and it seemed as though it was the end of this part of the mansion. It was a room with no door, only a fancy threshold that had villa-ish structures: The room was very large, though. As expected of a daughter of a duke.

Everywhere in the Living Room had engraved marks on it that showed the letter 'L,' all too evidently showing how much the family crest was so important to the mansion: There was a large staircase at the end of the room with the second floor of the Living Room very visible from Rin and Len's position, because it took over a quarter of the room's space for the second floor's, well, floor, and the landing was full of golden railings. The second floor had a lot of furniture that seemed so foreign to Len. Maybe they were imported from another country. . . The floor that they're in was practically an explosion of yellow and black colours: The grandfather clock that overlooked everything at the other end of the room was golden yellow, and its other features were black; the couch looked as though it was sewn by golden thread — Len's had his experiences — and the glass table, which was obviously transparent, wasn't left dissimilar by Rin, because the legs were shining gold, and the glass was undoubtedly made from obsidian, a mineral that's darker than the night's sky.

Rin elegantly walked to the couch, sitting down in a rather dignified position, crossing her legs. Len just marvelled at the entire place: He was tempted, no doubt. This looked like the perfect place to. . .

He heard a small cough. Len was snapped out of his reverie and back to reality, realising he'd stared at the Living Room for quite a long time, standing in the threshold like an idiot, keeping Rin in waiting.

Well, this was bad.

"Won't you like to discuss matters with me. . ."

Rin stumbled for words, at a loss: She didn't even get his name. What an embarrassing thought for a daughter of a lord. But, as she always told herself, show no weakness. . .

". . . rat?"

Len almost wanted to slap himself for actually believing the Lady will ask for his name. Instead, he shred every sign of regret he showed and replied cheekily to hide his bitterness, "Aren't you such a princess?"

Rin looked highly affronted, much to Len's unusual pleasure. "P-princess? I'll have you know —"

"Please don't take everything into account, my Lady," Len said, giving her a smile that silenced her. What a miracle. He twirled his bowler hat absentmindedly and added, taking advantage of the Lady's struggles to find an insult, "It's just my term of endearment."

Even though it may be a flattering remark to many, it was absolutely nothing — nothing — to Rin. "I don't want to waste my entire day playing your games, thief."

That was when Len put in act the comeback he's been practising lately, "On the contrary, you're quite a girl to spend an entire day with: It'd be an honour to spend a lonely thief's day with a lovely Lady."

Rin scowled, like, even scarier than usual. "Do you want to get this job or not, peasant?"

"Well, considering I need the job as much as you need another servant, I guess we're on the same page, then." Len didn't give a sign of any effort at most when he grabbed the chair nearest him and turned it around so he could lay his chin on the backrest, watching as the Lady's frown turned into a sort of threatening look.

"I'm serious, you pauper," she snapped, narrowing her eyes. "And I can hire anyone I like, and kick out anyone who's as irritating as a fly."

Len flinched, but didn't say anything to retort.

"Now," Rin said, her tone disguising annoyance, "I'd like to know your name."

Len figured this might happen: Except for her way of asking his name. Normally, it was "what's your name?" or "who're you?" or even "it's nice to meet you! I'm Bob, and you are?" But no, it was "I'd like to know your name." Oddly enough, it struck Len as an insult.

"Len." He stood, his expression showing stern determination. "You can call me Len, my Lady."

Rin felt a string of pain shoot across her head mentally, and she started to see colourful clouds shielding her vision: Dizzy, she managed to control herself from passing out but it didn't come unnoticed by the boy.

"I am sure you aren't informed of the name of the Lady of Langley?"

It just occurred to Len that he didn't even get her name yesterday, and now he felt kind of stupid for showing up.

"No, Ma'am." It was better to tell the truth, because no lie can proceed without lying again.

"Arianna Dianne Victoria Mary Langley," Rin said with no hesitation. It was voiced out clear, straight and formal. The boy looked like he was having trouble trying to decide what to call her. "It's Rin."

"Ah." 'Rin' sounded like a very good diminutive for someone whose name seemed longer than what the said person can even remember. That shall be easy enough.

Lady Rin. . . It felt so good in Len's mind.

"Now, back to business," the Lady said, clearing her throat loudly so that Len will snap out of his thoughts. "If you want to be my servant, you have to show me what you've got."

That remark hid a second meaning, and Len knew more than to argue or make a comment: Last night was absolutely . . . creepy. And weird. And unusual. He didn't want either of them discussing it again.

"Have you any criminal records?" Rin honestly didn't know what to ask this boy, it being her first time trying to hire someone. She was initially going to hire him right at the spot, feeling so reckless and in need of adventure; but she had to look professional. She entwined her fingers together and rested her elbows on her lap, sneering.

Now it was Len's turn to smirk. He folded his arms rather loftily and said, sighing, "If I'd ever been caught, I'd have been put to death a long time ago."

Rin clapped her hands and said in a cheerful manner that didn't suit her personality, "Great! You're hired!"

"E-excuse me?"

Len always thought his charms can enchant anybody, but he used it all up on this girl right here, and her personality immediately changes. So he just stood there, his mouth agape, looking like a puffer fish. The Mistress was giggling uncontrollably and was fanning her face with an expensive-looking fan she got from God knows where for the last few seconds.

The sight before him was absolutely, well, indeed extraordinary. He'd heard from rumours that the Lady never shows a sign of delight ever since her father's death, no matter how many have tried entertaining her. So . . . how was he any different? Last night as well, when he tripped over . . . she laughed.

"You have filled the requirements for the ideal servant," the Lady said, her blue orbs glittering with mischief. "I can sense it in you: You don't lie."

Len smiled sheepishly as he said, "I've heard you've participated in many famous investigations that shouldn't normally involve girls your age."

Rin shot him a glare and stood, grinding her teeth. "Excuse me! How dare you? Is this a sign of significance you're displaying?"

"No, Ma'am, I'm simply playing with you." Len heaved a sigh, putting on his bowler hat. Then, turning around, he added, "You can sense what I'm feeling yet you can't get my jokes."

He heard footsteps and he immediately wheeled around, instinctively ducking when he saw a glob of an object flying ballistic at him — "You pig!"

Len adjusted his tie and gulped when he saw the Lady looking rather dishevelled herself; her ribbon was slightly tilted, and the main hole of her dress hid the left part of her neck's nape, although slightly revealing her right shoulder blade. There was something crumpled in her hand, and Len guessed it was his first task.

"Aren't you going to give me that?" Len pointed at the paper. Rin scoffed.

"This is a test to see if you truly are a phantom thief," she said, folding her arms. The boy didn't move. "What now, Pauper?"

It was her first mistake to blink: In a flash, she saw Len's blond hair beside her, and gasped when she realised that the paper she was holding was gone.

Rin felt Len's hot breath tickle her neck. "What now, my Mistress?"

For now, the Lady can't supress a smirk. She's fallen into her own servant's trap. How ironic. "Be sure to get here. Early."

Len strode across the room and hid the paper from sight, smirking as he exited the room. "I'll be sure."

And when Rin heard the unmistakable sound of a door shutting close at the end of the hall, she sighed heavily and plopped down the couch, tired. Today was eventful, that's for sure. Besides, she was supposed to eat breakfast by now. That boy . . . Len, was it? He looked like the kind who was always screwing up. But there was something about him. . . Rin didn't know what, but he was a very odd boy.

They were to meet again later, anyway, so she was going to observe him more then.

ME: Thanks for reading o_O As you can see, I'm starting a long story for the Phantom Thieves Peter and Jenny, since it deserves more love! So, obviously, the setting's 1888, London, because I want to make it give off a certain Kuroshitsuji aura: And you can painfully see that Rin acts a lot like Ciel in this one, too. I'm still gonna finish my two other stories, though. But don't fret readers! The great Nicole can type a story like a storm!

Oh, by the way, if one of you guys is a resident in London itself, can you give me some information about the place? Pretty please? Pretty-weety-eety pwease? (Okay, that was gross.) Reviews are very much appreciated, thanks, and I give virtual orange ice cream and banana split! ^~^ Can you please explain to me how this lordship junk works too? Thanks! Oh, and my birthday's a week away, so I'll be fourteen soon :D Rin and Len forever, fans!