Chapter 1: W Times Five
"I can’t wait, Gil," Oz grinned, sitting back in his seat in the carriage, leg crossed over the other as his arms acted like a pillow for his slouched neck. "It’s been a while since I’ve relaxed at your place."
Gilbert gave a pathetic nod before a yawn overcame him, making the blonde chuckle. Red checkered the raven’s cheeks as he stiffened, “What’s so funny?”
"Nothing. You just look like you could use some relaxation, too."
"Well, I could," Gilbert admitted. "There’s nothing funny about that, though."
"Oh~?" Oz gave a sly smirk. "I beg to differ. You’ve been trying to quit again, haven’t you?"
The older male flinched, brows furrowing as he countered, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy!”
Just as the young Vessalius burst into a boisterous laugh, the horse and carriage stopped, gaining the two’s attention. As usual, Gilbert stepped out first, holding a hand out to assist Oz from the steep step. It wasn’t often that the two of them were alone. Sharon insisted that Alice and she have a bit of bonding time, since Break wasn’t in the need of using them at the moment.
The carriage was sent away and Gilbert led the way to his home. Stepping up to the door, he pulled out the key, placing it into the slot and just as he turned the knob, the door burst open and a cry of his name echoed as a flash of black barged into him, sending him into a sprawled position on the ground.
"Gilbert! You’re home! I was waiting for so long!"
Gilbert blinked the dust out of his eyes, feeling a slight weight upon his person. Then, he choked out the name, “Lauri?”
There was a giggle as Gilbert sat up, leaning back on his hands as thin arms were wrapped around his neck, hair just below his nose with a floral fragrance. Pulling back, a young woman looked up at him with a beaming bright smile. Wavy black hair brushed her shoulders, and emerald colored eyes gleamed, reflecting the sun light as well as her joy from the very presence of the young man. “Gilbert, it’s such a relief to see you,” she sighed.
"Lauri, what are you doing here?" Gilbert asked, eyes wide in slight panic as his voice slightly trembled.
"I wanted to see you!"
"Gil~" Oz cooed, leaning over the man’s shoulder, hands behind his back with a pout on his lips. "Who’s this?"
The young woman stood from her perch atop the man, walking up to Oz and examining him. She was a good four inches taller than the blonde, her black pants were worn in a bell-bottom fashion, boots holding metallic heals that clacked against the stone, and she wore a light white long-sleeved button-up that accented her curves and slightly above average chest. “Who are you?” she asked indignantly.
Oz gave a sly smile, he grabbed the young woman’s hand, and said, “I am Oz Vessalius! It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, miss.” Just as he was about to place a kiss above her hand, she slipped it away with a frown.
"Vessalius, huh?" she murmured. She looked over at Gilbert who sat frozen in shock and awe, seeming as though he were to have a heart attack at any moment. She sighed. "My name is Lauri Martin. Seventeen years old. I’m a maid from the Nightray family."
"Maid?" Oz echoed. He glanced at Gilbert. "What’s a maid doing here?"
The raven-haired male sighed as he stood, dusting himself off. “Let’s…just continue this inside…” he suggested. The two younger guests agreed and the trio made their way inside, settling into the home of Gilbert Nightray. A golden gaze was quick to notice the black jacket and silver belt that had settled upon his counter, thinking that the young woman really must have waited quite a bit of time. However…that would mean…
"Ah!" Once again, Gilbert was attacked by some flying form, though this time it was grey. A cat had decided to attach itself to his torso. A cat. "GAH! GET HER OFF!" Gilbert cried, arms flaying about as tears started to form in his eyes. "GET HER OFF!"
"Kitten! Come here!" Lauri’s voice bellowed. The cat’s ears perked and unlatched itself from the young man before prancing over to her owner, rubbing against her legs and purring as her bell jingled from the blue bow. "Sorry, Gilbert," the young woman sighed. "You know she’s in-sync with my emotions. She just loves you very much."
"I don’t care," Gil grumbled, patting away the cat hair from his person. "I hate cats.”
"Give me a second," Lauri insisted as she picked up the feline who gave an unamused whine. She opened the door, and set the cat down outside, "Just bear with me for a little while, all right?" The only response given was the start of Kitten’s grooming of herself which made Lauri giggle slightly before closing the door, effectively shutting the cat off from Gilbert. "There, better?"
"Excuse me," Oz rose a hand, his pout from earlier returning as he sat down with a huff. "Don’t you think you’re leaving me out of the loop?"
Gilbert sighed, running the palm of his hand down his face before entering the kitchen. “I’m going to make some tea,” he announced. “You two behave.”
"What! I always behave, Gilbert!" Lauri whined, earning a look of doubt from the man. She turned on her heel, turning her attention towards the youngest of the group. "So, you’re the young master that has Gilbert tripping over his feet."
Cheeks flushing red, Raven’s glare returned but Lauri promptly ignored it as she sat beside Oz. The younger teen’s eyes were wide with surprise at the statement before he grinned with pride, “Yeah, I suppose I am.”
Red lips leaned forward, catching the blonde off-guard, eyes clenching shut, trying to prepare the boy’s mind, until he felt the lips, not where he expected them to be, but near his ear, gently brushing it. “Be it as it may,” Lauri whispered. “You may be his master, but he is mine. I only want his happiness. Even you won’t be able to stand in the way.”
Oz’s jaw froze in place, settling together and locking. He turned his head slightly, his eyes meeting hers, matching pair dull. He sighed as he leaned back, “Gil~ How could you have such a troublesome girl for a maid? I thought the Nightray house would have done better with the discipline.”
Heaving his own sigh, Gilbert stirred the tea with an exhausted scowl about his features, not even looking over at the teenagers. “Lauri was the daughter of one of the former maids before I arrived, so Duke Nightray gives her special treatment in thanks. Isn’t that right, Lauri?”
"Hm, quite," the young woman replied before suddenly seeming startled, turning around in her seat, placing both hands on the back of the couch and looking over at Gilbert. "Sharon said that Pandora’s in need of some hands. Could you give me a ride over there?"
Gilbert frowned, “What did I say about working for Pandora?”
"I’ve already told you it’s too late, anyway. Ever since I got Kitten…"
"That cat is chain?" Oz asked with raised brow.
"She is," Lauri grinned. "She’s more of a direct battle type. Though, one would never be able to guess that just by looking at her. I think that she suits me, really."
Oz scoffed, “Then, I suppose that means that she really doesn’t suit you at all, now does it?”
"Oz," Gilbert warned, bringing over the tea, handing one cup to his master, and the other to his maid. "Don’t start something. Lauri will finish it."
"Why thank you, Gilbert," the young woman smiled up, beamed, making Oz frown as he took a sip.
"Hey, Gil," the blonde started. "Why do you allow her to be so familiar with you?"
"Huh?" the man paused, stunned by the question. Lauri’s cheeks grew pink, and Gil’s followed suit as their eyes met.
"Wha-? Are you two-?"
"No! Of course not!" came the unified screeched, shocking the lad in his seat and into silence.
"We’re just on…rather good terms…" the raven explained as he scurried into the kitchen. "I guess you could say that we’re friends."
"Yeah, we’re friends," Lauri agreed.
"Uh huh…" Oz glanced between the two, skeptical. "I’m sure Break wouldn’t mind telling me the tru-"
"Leave Break out of this!" they screamed, once more, in unison.
Oho~ So, there was something interesting and fun that Break knew? He would have to keep that in mind for another time. Lauri, in the meantime, began to guzzle down her cup of tea, despite the beverage being rather warm to the touch.
"Anyway," Gilbert sighed, fixing up his own cup, "today is a vacation day for us. I’m not going over to Pandora until tomorrow, so I can’t give you a ride."
"You’d let a young lady like me go all the way there alone?" Lauri faked a pout and sob which didn’t bother the Nightray at all.
"You got here just fine, you’ll be all right on your own as well. You have that damnable animal with you after all."
At that, Lauri’s pout turned into a frown. Her brows knitted together and stood, walked over and slammed the cup of tea onto the counter. She didn’t realize that the cup had been placed upon her black coat, which as she took her silver belt, snatched it, making the porcelain fall and break, tea spilling onto the floor.
"H-Hey! Lauri! What are you-?" before Gilbert could get another word out, the door slammed behind the young woman as she left. The raven-haired male sighed. He really didn’t want to clean up this mess.
"That was rather stupid of you, Gil," Oz stated, a look of disappointment in his features as he looked over the couch at his own servant picking up the large pieces that he could, kneeling on the floor.
"Well…it was the truth…" he murmured.
Oz only laughed. What an interesting day so far.
Chapter 2: Hatter
Lauri stomped angrily throughout the halls of Pandora. Her teeth were grinding as her chain followed obediently, keeping up with her pace the best it could. She stopped for a moment, paused in thought, then released an aggravated cry before kicking at the wall. "Damn it!"
"Ah~ Someone has been ignored I see~" was a giggle that had the young woman scowling.
She turned, whipping behind her to see Break, with Emily on his shoulder, walking by with a candy in hand. "What do you want, Break?" In response, Kitten hissed at the man, her fur standing as she bared her fangs.
"Oh~? Not feeling playful today?"
Lauri placed her hands on her hips, glaring, "I'm never playful when it comes to you, am I?"
"Oh, I wouldn't say that~" Break chuckled.
The girl flushed in response, "Anyway, I wasn't ignored."
"And, I don't believe that."
"And, why not?"
"Because she always comes~!" Emily cackled.
"That's right, Emily~" the Hatter cooed. "Miss Martin always comes to me when young Gilbert-kun ignores her."
"Ah, just like that time two years ago~"
"Oh?" Break looked over at the raven-haired young woman. She was glowering at him, face a deep maroon color and the chain at her feet changed in color, matching her complexion. Her hands were balled tightly into fists and the feline's claws were digging into the floor. "You have something to say?"
"Just…!" she bit back a yell, the hallway giving off an echo. "Just shut up. And, don't bring up old news."
"No matter hold old something is it can always be entertaining, no?" When Lauri sent Break a piercing glare, the man chuckled. "Or, perhaps not."
Lauri sighed, leaning against the wall and slouching, the back of her head hitting it as she closed her eyes. Kitten calmed, her deep redness dissipating as she curled next to her owner. "Anyway," the ravenette murmured, "I did…though…come to see you…I suppose…"
Break unwrapped his candy and popped it into his mouth as he smirked, "And, what can I do for the little miss?"
"Break," she looked at him, scowling, "you were supposed to tell me when Oz came back."
Lauri stepped forward, though no real menace in her features or aura, as she grabbed at the man's collar, "You said you were gonna bring him back. I told you to tell me when. You said you would."
"Ah ah ah~ I never said I would," Break wagged a teasing finger at the young woman. "I said you would 'find out' when. That doesn't imply that you would find out from me."
"You know, you're being a really poor representative to your masters, Miss Martin," Break rose a brow, that condescending smug look on his face that made Lauri's blood boil. "A proper maid wouldn't threaten a servant from another noble family, would she? Or, are you taking advantage or your 'relation' with the Nightray family? Ah~ I suppose you really are your mother's daughter, ne?"
And, almost instantly, like a natural instinct, Lauri gave a fierce blow to the right side of Break's face. She released him, shoving him into the wall before taking a few steps back, huffing from the adrenaline that suddenly surged through her body. The knuckles of her left hand were stinging, and would probably bruise in the morning, but even so, Lauri still couldn't feel better, not even seeing the blood that trickled from the corner of the pale man's lip.
"Listen, I didn't come here to be mocked and ridiculed!"
"If you came here to be comforted then you've come to the wrong place," Break smirked, rubbing once at his slightly swollen lip. "I don't do anything of the sort, as you should be well aware of."
Lauri bit her lip, scowling with tearful eyes and furrowed brows, "You…just…don't tell Oz…"
"Don't tell Oz-kun what?"
"About what happened two years ago. Don't tell him, all right?"
"Is he curious?"
"Yes, so please, promise me you won't tell him."
Break smiled, taking out another candy and unwrapping it, "And, why would you care if he knew about that?"
"Because, Gilbert cares!"
"Ah hah~" Break stood up, popping the second piece into his mouth as he hummed. "Tell me, does Gilbert-kun know about what happened after that?"
Lauri stiffened, eyes lowering, and she responded in a harsh tone in an almost whisper, "Of course, he doesn't."
"He wouldn't think much of you if he knew, would he?"
"Just don't tell Oz," Lauri looked up, almost pleading.
"Miss Martin," Break cooed, "if you do me a little favor, I'll keep my mouth sealed."
The young woman was wary, but a part of her was desperate, "What is it?"
"I want you to keep an eye on one of your young masters."
Lauri's eyes narrowed, "Do you hate him that much that you want me to spy on him?"
"Do you love him so much that you would be willing to destroy your relationship with Gilbert-kun?"
"He's my precious young master!" the young woman shouted, cheeks flushed. "Of course, I love him. Just as much as I love Gilbert! I'm supposed to protect him! Not betray him!"
"Will he know?" Break's expressions became dull, bored with the girl and her hysterics. "Are you going to tell him that you are spying on him for me? He won't know any other way than that. So, you have a choice. Hide the fact that you betrayed Gilbert-kun, or hide the fact that you will betray him. I'm not going to help you out any more than that."
Lauri was silent. She wasn't sure what to do… "I…" Though, if she agrees, does she still have to tell the truth? Can't she just give Break an incorrect report? But, it was Break. A difficult man to handle and he knew how to get his information. He knew how to use people and how to work them. Lauri knew that firsthand, like Gilbert and the others. There was something that this man wanted to know, but she had no clue what it was…but she would always be willing to help in the past… That was before he started to focus so much on…
"Miss Martin, I haven't got all day, so would you please?"
She sighed, "I'll do it."
"All right then~" Break giggled. "I suppose I'll take my leave now, and you can go about your previous business."
Just as he was about to turn around, the man stopped midway, glancing at the girl with one eyelid lowered and a lazy grin, "Hm?"
"Will Oz really go back to the Abyss?"
There was an almost sinister cackle as Break rose a brow and his grin turned into a smirk, "Do you want him to?"
Lauri said nothing in response as Break waved and made his way down the hall in which she came from. She only watched his back and suddenly wondered how many more times she would be able to see it before it was gone forever.
Chapter 3: Incriminating
"Oh, you've returned."
Lauri looked up as she stepped into the home of Nightray to see that it was young Elliot who had spoken to her as he happened to walk by. The young woman gave a bow, "Good evening, Young Master Elliot." The young man promptly gave a curt nod of his head, though he seemed as though something was on his mind, and Lauri, being the ever faithful servant she was, extended her concern. "Young Master Elliot, is there something troubling you?"
The young man sighed, "Vincent came home rather disturbed and locked himself away in his room. He's being a hindrance."
The young woman gave a soft smile, "Then, allow me to look into it."
"Please do," Elliot, whose eyes were always sharp, gleamed for a moment before he continued on his way about his abode. Lauri sighed to herself, shoulders straight and chin up, she marched up the stairs, down the hall, and when she reached the door to the blonde man's room, she paused.
"Young Master Vincent?" she called. There was no answer, no response. "I'm coming in!" she announced, taking hold of the nob and turning, opening the door to enter a dark room. She wasn't the least bit perturbed at the scissors on the ground, the stuffing of so many animal toys scattered about like the plucked feathers of a bird. She closed the door, walking over to the bed, Kitten scrambling through under her feet before jumping up onto the bed and curling up beside a large lump under the covers, curled up with just a tad bit of blonde sticking out. Lauri sat down beside the feline, beside the young man, and gently placed a hand on his head, stroking that soft hair that tickled her fingertips. "Was it Gilbert?"
The young man quietly shook his head in the negative, and Lauri sighed once more, "Only something Gilbert related would make you act like this. What happened?" She removed the covers to reveal Vincent, staring with his uttermost blank expression forwards towards the wall of his dark room, and Lauri swept locks of hair around his ear, his golden eye shining just as bright as his golden hair.
"Gilbert has the day off," the young man mumbled. "I just wanted to spend time with him…since he's usually so far away."
"Did you tell him?"
Vincent nodded, "But, he'd rather be with that…brat…"
Lauri's brows furrowed, "I know. I tried to get him to come with me to Pandora earlier as well, but he shot me down flat."
"Why does he like that kid so much? That…I'm his brother…and I love him more than anything else."
Lauri smiled, reaching her hand down to lightly grab at Vincent's chin, turning his face so she could get a look at his crimson eye. "Gilbert doesn't remember everything, you said. I'm sure once he does, he'll love you even more. He does care about you now, Vincent. He does treasure you."
"He should show it more!" Vincent cried.
"Yeah, he should," Lauri nodded. "But, there's nothing I can do about your relationship, and I can't possibly help it, and Gilbert wouldn't allow me to interfere anyway." Her hand reached up a little, ghosting over that mesmerizing cursed eye before she caressed the side of Vincent's face, staring straight at it as her thumb stroked at his brow softly, slow, and soothing. "It really is Oz's fault. Though, without his memories, he also can't be entirely blamed for it. Vincent, you are merely a victim of circumstance, and yet always you try to protect your big brother."
Vincent sighed, staring straight up at the young woman, "As long as he's happy, nothing else matters. I've always said and thought this. Even so, in the back of my mind, the tiniest part of me wants to monopolize every inch of my brother and his love. He is the only one I love, his happiness is put first above all. Everything else can disappear and I wouldn't care."
"Devotion," Lauri nodded. "It's something that can be so strong without needing to be tangible…" The young woman, her dark raven hair falling forward as she leaned over, placing a kiss to Vincent's forehead. "It's something I can understand very well."
"I wonder if this is how Gil feels," Vincent murmured. "Receiving devotion from someone they could care utterly less for."
Lauri released a laugh, "Vincent, your case and my case are completely different. Gilbert does care about you, and I'm not nearly as devoted to you as you are to him."
"Is that so…" the blonde hummed before sitting up, Lauri sitting back a bit before her cheek was cupped by his hand, cool to the touch before he ran his fingers through her hair, wavy and pitch black. "Do you know why I tolerate you, Lauri? Despite allowing you to be so informal with me, I never question you on anything about your personal life and no close to nothing about you despite all of the time I've been here and known you."
"I couldn't fathom a guess…"
The apathy in her voice made Vincent smile, "Of course." His hand slipped under the covers and once it resurfaced a second pair of sharpened scissors was revealed. "If I were to simply cut it, shorten it, wouldn't it look identical to my brother's?" The hand in her hair slipped to grasp her neck, pushing forward and shoving her down into the bed, Kitten jumping up from the shock and off the bed onto the floor, but sat still, observing the scene. He was hovering above her as he pressed, scissors in the other hand, he pointed them downwards in the direction of Lauri's eyes and slowly lowered them. "If I take these disgusting green eyes out maybe I could put in a better colored pair? Something along gold. Then, wouldn't you be even more like my brother?"
"Then, do it," Lauri whispered, voice cracking slightly as she didn't even struggle, and Vincent could feel those eyes still gazing at the one bloody red nightmare that he was born with.
There was a scowl on Vincent's face before he sat back. He sliced across the young woman's left cheek, blood dripping almost instantly in a thin line. He turned away, looking up at his curtains that blocked the view of the sky and the world, "Leave. You disgust me."
"Don't…call me that."
Lauri sat up, wiping at her cheek, her fingertips coated lightly with her blood. She shifted on the bed, moving to rest on her knees as she embraced the young man from behind, wrapping her arms about his shoulders as she held him close to her chest, "Vincent, why don't you rest?"
"I told you to leave…"
"I will, soon," the young woman nodded. "But, right now, you should lay down and try to get some sleep. When you wake up, you'll feel better and you'll stop having these thoughts."
Lauri removed her arms from around her young master and instead shuffled about to sit on the edge of the bed to his side. He looked to her before falling on his side, resting his head atop her lap, releasing a long drawn out exhale. Silently, Lauri stroked the blonde's hair, and then she began to hum softly.
"Come in," a voice called from the sound of a knock on the other side of the door. And, when it opened, young Elliot and young Leo were sitting in the middle of the room, Leo on the floor leaning against the bed, and Elliot in a chair; both reading books. "Did you finally calm him down?" Elliot queried once his eyes took in the appearance of Lauri, noticing the long cut on her cheek and the dribble of almost dried blood down the side of her face.
"Yes," she gave a bow. "He should be all right when he wakes up in the morning. So, I'll make my way to my quarters and turn in for the night unless you have any other wishes from me."
Elliot simply nodded, turning his attention back to his book, "I'm fine. Go ahead and sleep, but first, take care your wound."
A soft smile formed on Lauri's lips as she bobbed her head in compliance, "Yes. Good night, Young Master. Good night, Leo." The young woman turned, and left, carefully shutting the door behind her.
Meanwhile, the young Nightray sighed, "Jeez, she just lets him do whatever."
"If you're going to be worried about her in the end, you shouldn't send her to do something that would endanger herself to begin with," Leo chided.
An annoyed blush crawled Elliot's cheeks as he sent a half-glare towards his friend, "She would do it anyway. She coddles Vincent too much. Ever since the beginning."
"Are you jealous?"
"Good," Leo adjusted his glasses, "because it isn't like she doesn't coddle you as well. Coddling is what that woman does best."
"You make it sound like a bad thing."
"You believe it's a good thing?"
"Well," Elliot sighed, "it's not entirely good and it's not entirely bad. It just means she's nice but also naive."
Leo shrugged, returning to his book in silence, earning a look from his master who, eventually with a huff, returned to his own book grumbling.
"Damn," Lauri hissed as she applied medicine to her fresh cut, now clean to the best of her ability. It was deeper than she expected and her whole cheek was feeling so sensitive as though all of the skin was rubbed raw. Afterwards, she began to undress for bed, leaving the comfort of her small private bathroom and stepping into her bedroom, removing her coat finally, dropping it onto the floor where her shirt followed. As she began to remove her brassiere she heaved a heavy sigh. Vincent was always a handful whenever he was upset. There was never anything she could do about it, not really. Her words barely meant a thing to him, they only meant something when he needed them, and even then they were worth less than a poor man's shoe; assuming he even has one.
Removing her bottoms as she kicked off her shoes, Lauri's eyes fell into their own daze, her body moving as though on autopilot but her mind kept thinking. Was she really to relay everything to Break? She couldn't dare to…but she made a deal…Gilbert had always been far more special than any other, but Vincent was also special. The young orphans were two that she always adored and… Even if he didn't need her existence, she was still able to gain Vincent's trust from all of the years they had known each other, growing up with the other. He may know nothing of her, her personal interests and things like that, what her favorite food is or what her hopes and dreams were, what her fears were, but he still trusted her whether or not he admitted it. She couldn't lose that trust.
But, she couldn't lose Gilbert either. If he knew…what happened two years ago…he would look at her with nothing but disgust, no, he wouldn't even look at her. He wouldn't say a word to her, he'd give her the cold shoulder and never believe a word that came from her mouth again. Even if Break was only bluffing to get her to spy on Vincent, she still felt as though she couldn't take the risk. Break…he was hard with his emotions as he always kept people afar, all except for Sharon and even if he considers you a friend…
Lauri shook her head. No, he wouldn't consider her a friend. Two years ago, she was so easily manipulated…was it possible that he knew what could happen afterwards? Did he plan this all from two years ago? It seemed highly unlikely but…Break was just that cunning. It was disgusting.
She yawned, No, it isn't good to think about all of these things so late at night and right before bed. She thought to herself as she slipped under her covers, blowing out the candle on her tableside before settling in and curling, closing her eyes. She should think of something else. Something warmer. And, when she felt Kitten curl up beside her, the vibration of the feline's purr soothing her back, Lauri smiled as she gave a tiny sigh of comfort. Her mind went blank and soon, sleep was encompassing her and her dreams greeting her.