Author's Note: Okay, Chapter Two is finally up. (I accidenally deleted it before). It starts off in Miyu's perspective, but most of it is generally about Larva. It's not really a very exciting chapter, more of a way to explain and describe the alternate realities. The real fun starts in Chapter 3…

Since the majority of the votes were for obscenely rich lord/wild bachelor, I blended the two to make a wild (obscenely rich) aristocrat. Although family man would have been interesting, it would just have been too difficult imagining Larva with children - or Larva with a wife… I'd probably end up being jealous of her! I mean, who wouldn't? Bottom line, people: Larva is too delicious to give away to anyone but Miyu. (sigh!)

Anyways, a huge thanks to all reviewers: since I have waaaaay too much free time on my hands, I've answered all reviews at the end of the page. (But if I miss anyone out, they'll go in the next chapter).

~ ¤ ~


"Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise."
-Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

                

¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤

Chapter II:

Trouble in Paradise

¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤

"Mom, do we have to have blueberry? Why not chocolate chip? Or - or -" Hanako screwed up her face, thinking hard. "Banana!"

Mrs. Yamano laughed and reached down to ruffle her daughter's hair. "Banana pancakes? Where on earth did you get that idea, Hana?"

"I think it's quite creative," Mr. Yamano said, from behind the morning newspaper. "Mash a few bananas, mix them into the batter and you've invented a new potassium-enriched breakfast."

"Mommy, what's - what's -" Hana paused, trying to remember the word, "potasso?"

"Not potasso, honey, potassium. It's something you find in bananas."

"Oh. So, every time I eat a banana, I'm eating potasso as well?" Hana looked amazed. "Wow! Two fruits in one!" She rushed out of the kitchen and practically hurtled up the stairs, eager to share this new information. Still holding the rag doll she had been carrying around all morning, she burst into her sister's room and bounced her way to the bed. She jumped up on the bed and kept bouncing, her short ponytails flopping and the rag doll's head flopping with them.

"Mimi! Mimi, wake up!"

Miyu blinked and woke with a start, amazed to find a small pink-cheeked dwarf attacking her. It took her a while to recognize the round face, curly black hair and ribbon-bound ponytails of her newfound five-year-old sister. She had only been in the alternate reality a few days, and already she loved it. But instead of smiling broadly, which was exactly what she felt like doing, she groaned and covered her face with the pillow.

"Stop bouncing, Hana! You'll break the bed - no, wait, you'll break me!" Hana stopped instantly, horrified at the idea of breaking her sister into tiny pieces. Miyu smiled to herself; the poor kid took everything way too seriously. Hana suddenly seemed to remember what she had come to say, and a smile lit her face. "Guess what Mom's making, Mimi?" She didn't even give Miyu a chance to respond before she rushed into the news, her large almond-shaped eyes sparkling. "Potassio-pancakes!"

Miyu blinked, convinced she had heard wrong. She threw the pillow aside and peered at Hanako. "Hana, what on earth is a potassio-pancake?"

Hana opened her mouth, closed it again and shrugged. "It's a pancake with banana and potasso-fruit. Daddy invented it! Want one?" When Miyu shook her head no and said she'd be down for breakfast soon, Hana rushed out to help her mother "look for the potasso". "It's hidden somewhere inside the bananas," she confided in a whisper, "and Mommy won't be able to see it by herself."

Miyu sat up and stretched her arms, yawning. She couldn't remember any other time when she had slept as well as she did in the dream-reality; no nightmares, no troublesome dreams… just peace. She smiled and surveyed the room, still amazed with how familiar it seemed. The pale peach wallpaper, dotted with pale pink flowers, the carpet in its many shades of peach and cream, the gauzy curtains framing the tall domed window, the many ornaments, photos, posters and stuffed animals decorating the room. A lopsided paper was taped firmly on the door, with the words "MimI's RoOm" scrawled in Hana's childish handwriting. A very unflattering picture of Miyu as a stick-woman with large brown puffs sticking out of her potato-shaped head was drawn next to the words. Miyu was enraptured by the adorable sign, although she wouldn't have admitted it to anyone else. On the nightstand next to her bed were several framed photos in various colorful frames: one of them portrayed her family, another held a picture of her - or, rather, her dream-reality self - surrounded by her best friends, all making the worst grimaces they could think of at the camera while trying not to laugh hysterically. The photo Miyu found most interesting, however, was the one of herself - dressed in a very uncharacteristic outfit composed of a denim skirt and sleeveless blouse - and a boy she had never seen before in her life. When she asked Hana if she knew who he was, the little girl just giggled and jumped up and down in a manner Miyu had quickly become familiar with. "That's Seiya, you silly Mimi!" Since Miyu didn't think it would be a good idea to ask just who the hell this Seiya was, she let the subject drop. But she couldn't help wondering if there was something that she should know; especially since, in the photo, her face was positively glowing, looking both shy and blithe - which was extremely unusual in itself. Miyu discovered several differences betten her dream-reality self and her real self: for example, the dream-Miyu was an incredible artist, and several of her oil paintings had been framed and displayed in the house - the real Miyu had never even considered drawing. The dream-Miyu was also an avid reader - the bookshelf in her room was practically full to bursting, while the real Miyu rarely had a spare moment to spend reading.  

Miyu opened the nightstand drawer, looking for a hairbrush; and found, among the mild clutter, a small book with a smooth, deep blue cover. The book was closed firmly by a small brass lock, and the word Diary was engraved across the front in beautiful golden letters. Miyu rummaged further into the drawer and discovered a tiny golden key, just the right size and shape to fit into the lock of the diary.

The pages were filled with a neat, curly handwriting she easily recognized as her own. Miyu flipped casually through the pages until she found an entry that seemed especially interesting - especially since it had the word "Seiya" written into it several times. Miyu started to read - and stopped in shock as soon as she read the first line:

Dear Diary,

Guess what? I think I'm in love!…

~ ¤ ~

Jane Derry trembled as she ascended the sweeping marble staircase that led to the second floor of the Mansion. She had been trembling all morning, and she was having difficulties holding onto the elaborate silver tray containing her master's breakfast because her palms had suddenly become clammy. Although she was new to the Mansion, she knew what an honor it was to be allowed to enter the master's bedchambers - even if it was just to serve breakfast. The other maids spoke constantly of the master, and Jane herself had caught a glimpse of him when he did the tour of the Gardens with Angus, the head gardener. Needless to say, it hadn't taken her long to become as infatuated with him as all the others were - although she told herself constantly that she was special, that the master would definitely pay special attention to her. Just as she was about to knock on the heavy mahogany doors of the master's room, it was opened by a tall, distinguished-looking butler - Henry, Jane reminded herself.

"Ah, you've brought his breakfast. Excellent," Henry said briskly, opening the door just wide enough for Jane to enter. When the girl just blinked vacantly, Henry gave an irritated sigh. "Well, what are you standing there for, girl? Come in!" Since she didn't really have any other option, Jane timidly sidled through the door and stood surveying the room in awe. The chamber was vast and impressively decorated - lush, deep crimson carpets, heavy embroidered scarlet tapestry, mahogany sideboards, a great fireplace with a marble mantelpiece… The windows were both wide and long, allowing sunlight to stream into the room and opening onto the master's personal balcony; the walls were hung with several beautiful expensive paintings, and exotic plants were placed in strategic parts of the room… Jane could barely breathe among all this glamour, but she managed to place the tray on the master's polished bedside table. As for the bed itself, Jane had never seen anything like it. It was king sized and managed to fill quite a bit of the spacious room - it was practically a sea of crimson silk sheets, decorated with interloping black snakes, watching everything with small, glittering ruby eyes.

Jane hardly dared look any further, but she did. And she ended up staring, her breath completely taken away from her. She had never seen lord Larva this close before, but it was certainly a sight for sore eyes - he had the face of an angel, exquisitely beautiful and so irresistible. And his hair - she'd never seen such hair before! Jane was enraptured by its silkiness and its ethereal, light blue color; for a moment, she had a very strong urge to run her hands through it, knowing it would be as soft as it looked. But the urge was quickly checked when Jane heard Henry politely but curtly tell her to return to her post and close the door on her way out. Jane curtsied and did so, her mind filled all the while with the image of the master, trying to imprint his every aspect into her memory. A mindless smile lit her face, and a flush carefully crept up her cheeks - her thoughts had now turned in quite another direction. One thing was for sure: Jane wasn't going to be able to sleep very well that night.

Henry sighed and closed the door of the chamber - which Jane had left wide open - shaking his head in amused exasperation. Was there not a single competent female servant in the Mansion? He knew very well that the young ones could not help but be attracted to lord Larva - but what shocked him was that even the elderly cook seemed to lose her wits whenever he happened to pass. And the lord did not exactly make things better, flirting with every pretty female he came across - Henry knew it had to stop, but he didn't really know how.

~ ¤ ~

Larva stirred uneasily, trying to get away from the sunlight intruding on his vision. He twisted his head, found it just as uncomfortable as the sunlight and finally sighed, forcing his eyes open.

"Finally, you're awake." Larva squinted at the man standing at the other end of the room, currently busy with parting the curtains of the balcony windows. Then his eyes turned to the tray waiting at the side of his bed. "Good morning, sir," the man stated briefly, in a very businesslike manner. 

Larva yawned and sat up. "Good morning to you too, Henry." He wasn't exactly sure how he knew the butler's name: it just came to him. It was as if the other-reality version of him had merged with his real self: new memories were suddenly nestled among the regular ones, and all the information he needed to know about his new identity were right there. Larva flinched when he realized that were countless memories of encounters with beautiful women, but he didn't seem to know the names of any of them. Then he smiled to himself: he could still perfectly remember the encounter with Auris, and he was both surprised and pleased that she had kept her promise. If there was anything his other-reality self had, it was perfect freedom. His face darkened momentarily as he thought of Miyu, but he brushed the thought away. She's fine now.

Henry carefully removed the covers of the plates on the tray to reveal a light breakfast and picked up a clipboard while Larva inspected the breakfast with cautious interest - he normally preferred blood to mortal food, but since he was no longer vampire or Shin, mortal food would have to do.

"You have quite a busy schedule today, sir," Henry remarked, running his finger along the clipboard. "You will be having lunch with Lady Charody and her daughters - Patrice and Jacqueline, I believe. This time, I would suggest you sit next to Patrice, since she is the most discreet of the trio. Then you will play croquet with the Garden Club, although I do insist you stop letting the young ladies on the opposite team win - no matter how grateful they might be towards you afterwards. And then… oh dear…" Henry paused with his finger still on the clipboard, looking uncomfortable. Larva looked up, a forkful off scrambled eggs paused halfway to his mouth. "What's wrong?" He asked, curiously.

Henry seemed to recover, and he coughed significantly. "Countess de Monté called again. She's having a masquerade tomorrow evening, and she insists you attend."

"So?" Larva didn't see what the problem was. Henry shook his head, amazed that the lord would forget such a thing. "In case you've forgotten, the Countess has been… well, to put it delicately, pursuing you ever since the Count passed away. I have to admit, she is one of the most desirable ladies in the country," Henry said, as if it were mere fact, "but honestly, sir - the last time you saw her, you ended up trying to explain to her father exactly what you were doing in her chambers past midnight. You've been avoiding her ever since." Then he sighed in a manner that let Larva know exactly how much Henry pitied him. "But unfortunately, sir, there's no escaping her this time. If you do not attend the masquerade, you will offend the entire de Monté family."

After bowing and bidding the master a polite good morning, Henry left the room, leaving Larva to ponder this new and disturbing news. He had a vague memory of someone called Selina de Monté, but he couldn't really remember anything else about her… Or…

Yes, he could. His other-reality self had been trying to repress the memory, but it was right there, sharp and clear. It was like watching a movie being played out in his mind…

~ ¤ ~

A few months earlier, at the de Monté Estate:

"Honestly, Selina, this has to stop." Larva was trying to sound firm, but it came out more in a harassed tone. His eyes were darting around the room, trying to find an exit other than the door that Selina had so conveniently locked. "Really?" Selina leant casually against the door, swinging the tiny brass key with her fingertips. "How so?"   

"You know very well that your father will have my head on a platter unless I leave now," Larva insisted, trying to look anywhere but at the sinfully ravishing peignoir Selina was wearing.

Selina tilted her head, a cascade of honey-colored curls falling down her shoulder. "We'll just make sure father doesn't find out, then." Selina's blue eyes were glittering and there was an almost predatory look on her face. Larva froze, torn between guilty consciousness and reckless desire. His two halves - one perfectly ready to chalk up Selina as another one of his conquests, the other still trying to respect her father's wishes - fought out a silent internal battle.

The respect didn't stand a chance.

~ ¤ ~

Larva was snapped out of his reverie by Henry, who came accompanied by two chambermaids and a tailor from a nearby town. The tailor was to take his measurements for the costume he would wear at the de Monté masquerade.

Larva could not get the memory of his last visit at the de Monté Estate out of his head; and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't really see any bright side to the dilemma.

Only one thing was very clear. He was in trouble.

~ ¤ ~

Review Replies:

No Name: Well, there it is: Le Grand Chapter Two! I only hope it wasn't disappointing, because I might have rushed it a little... But what can I say? I'm a typing fanatic. (Always have been, always will be :-)

Svelte Rose: First of all, thanks for the vote! And second, I appreciate the fact that you didn't want to rush me - but, like I said earlier: I have waaaaay too much free time on my hands, so fell free to rush all you want. And I suggest you hold on the congratulations, just in case you found the second chapter utterly horrible, or boring, or tasteless, or… well, you get the general drift.

Kyheena: Woah, I can't believe someone actually (or, okay, virtually) drooled over something I wrote. It's like suddenly telling me the sky is pink or pigs can fly… Anyways, I hope you picked up some good vibes from this chapter (otherwise I have some major re-writing to do :-). And, of course, thanks for the vote!

:) : Thanks for the tip on the spelling, but I think there are multiple ways of spelling "jinn". According to the Oxford Modern English Dictionary, there's:

1)"Jinnee" (also "jinn" or "djinn") In Muslim mythology, an intelligent being able to appear in

human and animal forms, and having power over people. 2) "Genii" (also "genie") - a jinnee, goblin, or familiar spirit of Arabian folklore.  

Sorry for giving you the boring details, but I just felt like clearing that up once and for all :-) And I have noticed that there aren't any new VPM stories coming in any more. It really bugs me, because if this section doesn't produce any more new fics - and fast - FF.net might have to scrap it. And I do not want to see that happen!

Anna Sartin: I'm glad you like the fic! I only hope you the second chapter lived up to the standards of first one. And thanks for the vote, by the way.

Rei: Thanks for the encouragement! And don't worry: right now, wild horses couldn't keep me from writing!

-Blank- : I have to hand it to you, you really do know how to pick a name ;-)

No, but really: Thanks for the review, and the money offer. Although, like you said, I can't make money off VPM, since it isn't mine (I wish it was, though - *sigh*). And thanks for the vote! Unfortunately, the fun for our friend Larva doesn't start until later, but trust me: he won't be the same old Larva when I'm done with him!

Dark Phoenix: Thanks for the vote, but I think you're practically the only one who wanted to see Larva as a family man. Still, it might be a good idea for a new fic… And I agree, it would have been difficult; which is partly why I didn't use it (I just don't have the energy to write in more than one little kid!) I'm sorry if you didn't agree with some parts of the story, but everybody has a right to their opinion, after all.

Neo Starangel: I'm glad you like the plot, and thanks for the vote!