For right now I'll just post them here; my copy of Akemi Hayashi's doujinshi should finally be coming in the mail next week, so once I check whether anything in it josses me, then I'll start posting to FF.net and the GL comm. I'm also still trying to come up with a title for this fic series; does anyone have any suggestions? ^^; (Maybe something related to music...I dunno.)
It was a day much like other days. Nia sat in her room as always, staring out the window, trying to find inspiration for a song in the desolate landscape outside. Nothing was coming to her; after all, things never changed here.
Or so she thought, until the sound of something clattering on the floor snapped her out of her thoughts. Turning, she saw two small children, a boy and a girl, in her room. A toy lay on the floor in front of them.
"Hello. Who are you?" she asked. She wasn't sure what they were doing here. No one else but her servants were allowed up in this tower.
The children cowered together, looking apprehensive.
She picked up their toy and handed it back to them. This immediately seemed to warm her to them.
Fear forgotten, the boy showed her the toy. "See this antenna? Know what it does??"
Nia shook her head, bemused.
The boy stood the toy on the floor, backed away a few steps, took some sort of remote from his pocket, and pressed a button. Nothing happened. The boy frowned, and jabbed at the button a few times more. Still nothing.
"Oh...I guess it's broke," he said, crestfallen.
"Maybe Simon can fix it?" the girl suggested.
"Yeah!" said the boy, brightening. "Yeah, he can fix anything!"
"Simon?" Nia asked, tilting her head questioningly.
"You don't know him?"
Nia shook her head, and before she could say anything more, they had grabbed her hands, and began leading her out of the room. "Take us! Take us!" they chanted.
"Huh? I'm sorry, I don't understand..."
"Take us down off the tower and we'll tell you!" the boy grinned. He ran ahead now, while the girl continued dragging her down the hall, until she suddenly tripped.
Nia quickly helped the girl up, and as she did so, spotted something on her hand. Red markings...?
But before she could try to make them out, another hand closed over the girl's.
Looking up, Nia saw that it belonged to a handsome boy around her age. He smiled at her, and said, "I'm sorry if they've bothered you. They're still new, you see."
She was confused from the start. 'New'? "No...it's all right."
He turned to the children. "You two know you aren't supposed to be up here."
"We didn't mean to! We gots lost!" the boy pouted.
"Did you come looking for us, Simon?" the girl asked.
So this was Simon.
Simon crouched down to talk to them face-to-face.
"You're lucky Miss Nia found you first, or you could have been in trouble." He glanced at her as he said her name, and for some reason, that made her heart skip.
He knew her! Well, of course, many people knew her, if they attended the nightly activities. That in itself was nothing to be surprised over. But...this was something different...she had a faint feeling that she had seen him somewhere before...did she know him?
"We're sorry..." said the girl, and Simon accepted her apology by gently patting her head.
The boy held up his toy. "Look! It's broke!"
Simon gave it a quick look over and nodded. "I'll take care of it tonight. But we should go now before someone else finds us..."
He stood up and took their hands in his, then looked at her again. "Thank you for watching over them." He bowed his head.
"Oh, no, it...it wasn't a problem." Not sure what else to say, she finished off with a polite smile.
But Simon only blinked at her, as if that wasn't what he'd been expecting.
"Is there...something wrong?" she asked.
He blinked again, and shook his head, chuckling. "No, I'm sorry. It's just...you've changed."
Her heart skipped again. "I have?" So they did meet before!
The children were restlessly tugging at Simon's hands now, so he finally turned to leave, but not before wistfully saying, "You used to be more expressive."
She watched them go, wondering what he could mean by that, and racking her brain to recall where she had seen him before. Why couldn't she remember? After all, he remembered her...
It was ten years ago now that she had been brought to this castle. Simon was pretty young himself back then, only about a decade old, still learning the ropes and unwillingly finding himself in as much trouble as Gimmy and Darry were now.
He remembered seeing her briefly first, being led down the hall by her mother. Yes, she still had a mother back then, though god knows why she would bring a child to a place like this. The mother was a distant friend of the boss, which meant she was one of the lucky ones: she came here willingly.
He didn't know all the details of what happened. Perhaps it was an accident; perhaps her body did not take well to this artificial environment. Or perhaps one of his own had rebelled, and killed her; his elders kept the information from him, he was still too young, but he did hear whispers telling of another body added to the rubbish heap. Whatever the reason, the mother died during her stay at the castle, and her daughter, Nia, was left there alone.
He could imagine how the boss's nose must have wrinkled at the thought of caring for such a young child, but he could not toss her away; that would be such a waste. She could be useful to him, someday. She might save him the trouble of making another servant, or if she grew up as lovely as her mother, he might even want her for himself.
And so she was taken care of, given the best treatment, but left completely isolated. The boss visited her sometimes, watching and waiting to see what he could mould her into, just as he'd moulded each one of his creations to fit his whims. Simon suspected that he rather grew to like child-rearing, as distant of a role as he took in it, and that was why he created Gimmy and Darry. Everlasting children to replace a child grown old.
Simon met Nia face-to-face shortly before she was taken to live in the tower. She was still a joyful child back then, completely unaware of what happened to her mother, or what kind of life she would be forced to live from then on. Innocent.
Even then, when he knew much less of what he knew now, he envied that innocence. And just for that, she was by far the prettiest thing he had ever seen.
Looking back on it, and seeing how much she had changed now, it was almost as if she had handed him some of that magic innocence in the shape of that bright red jewel. At the time, he wasn't sure if he should take it, if he even deserved to have such a thing, but when she smiled up at him like that, practically radiating sunshine, he found he couldn't refuse.
In the years since, when she'd dropped out of sight and mind, he still treasured that jewel, reflexively rubbing it in his fingers whenever he needed reassurance. He never actually thought he would see her again; maybe, in some part of his mind, he had become convinced that their meeting was just a dream, a fantasy to explain the presence of the jewel in his pocket.
So when he did see her again, in her debut as the new songstress, it was as if his dreams were affirmed. Once more, she was a part of his reality.
The challenge now was remembering to keep his distance.