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Teacup Pets & Sugar Crystals

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As the daughter of one of the most esteemed families in Orleans, it is not unusual that you were assigned a personal guard a month ago. After all, the gris have been quite unruly lately and you cannot be bothered with the going-ons of those below. What you didn’t expect was Rémy. He was far too young, you had to admit. With his dark brown skin close to the inky night sky, and coarse kinky coils that were kept just long enough to reach for the sun, he had much more personality than fashion-forwardness. But some people just didn’t follow the trends set forth by each generation of Belles. Not that you understand that.

After all, what was the purpose of having one of the Belles work on you, craft you to perfection in the eyes of the Goddess of Beauty, if you weren’t constantly trying to better yourself? To craft yourself in Her image? But you suppose that doesn’t matter in the eyes of a man that was simply supposed to be there to watch you. Training, likely so one day he could join his fellow soldiers and guards at the palace. 

Rémy seems completely unbothered by anything, in fact he seems annoyed when you take the time to perfectly mold yourself, as a good devotee of the Goddess of Beauty should. The way your layers of silky pink clothes cascade over your body like a waterfall, the way your curls reach towards the sun and try to capture the rays of sunlight for themselves. The Belles always said you had a natural disposition towards a wider nose and full lips - things that they recommended you keep. Certain features would fall in and out of fashion, but it wasn’t uncommon to have some stubborn bone structure.

So how dare he not appreciate the things you do for Her, the way you carefully arrange flowers on your decolletage and behind your ears. Winter blossoms to compliment the pale pink of your outfit, and a cozy shawl around your shoulders to keep you warm as you go to socialize with other young noblewomen. Your skin picks up the sun, likely all the time you’ve spent going back and forth between the Capitol and the Spice Isles where you hail from. 

“I’m getting rather peeved with you,” you say in a clipped voice. “It’s customary for a gentleman to compliment a lady, is it not?”

“If you’ll excuse me saying so,” Rémy began, which made you think that maybe you wouldn’t excuse him at all, “I believe my job is to protect you. I shall ask your parents - who’s employ I am under - if your ego is included as well.”

Heat blooms across your cheek at his smart response, but there is nothing else to do. The carriage door is closed and you want to look as pretty as you can for the tattlers that were zooming around up above, spritzing delightful perfume. You go into the night and your eyes take in the sight of the best Orleans has to offer. 

A dazzling array of people under the sparkling canopy in the pavilion, with heat machines to keep anyone from being cold. The pearl dust brushed on your skin catches the low lantern light and you hold your hand out, waiting for him to hold it. Rémy may have a smart mouth unsuited for compliments, but he was still a gentleman and you land outside the carriage ready for the night to begin.

Little birds that look as delicate as glass flitter around the lanterns as teacup pets reach up for them. Some teacup dragons - the most desired of all - fly around, their owners watching carefully. Your life going back and forth between the two cities is not good for teacup pets, but you still look at them with a covetous eye. 

“Please be careful, miss,” Rémy says with a careful expression on his face. Maybe he knew he stepped out of line before, but that means little to you. This was a night to be spent with your friends in the high life of Orleans.

You have known them since you were little, despite the countless times their faces have changed. They look well - no one has the grayish tinge to their skin or red shining under their eyes. They look just as the Goddess of Beauty intended. Crafted as lovingly and carefully by the hand of the Belles as the ice decorations on the buffet table laid out in the middle of the room.

The ice had been shaved and honed to look like waves crashing down into the table then back up, the spray realistic and almost seeming to move. There was a cake in the middle of the table with ten layers, each more painstakingly decorated than the last, and you have to stop yourself from wetting your lips at the thought of tasting the sugary delight. 

“You probably don’t like sweets, do you Rémy?” you ask. 

He simply shrugs beside you. As the crowd jostles you closer together, you realize he is quite tall. Height is one of the most awful things to change at the hands of the Belles - it requires the thinning and manipulation of bones that shouldn’t be moved. But he easily dwarfs you, and more heat creeps down your neck.

He doesn't stay by your side all night. He makes sure you're safe with your friends before excusing himself to go speak with another guard. You watch him out of the corner of your eye. He commands the area he's in, effortlessly. A good guard wasn't supposed to draw attention to themselves but Rémy did so without trying. Without meaning to.

As the night goes on you treat yourself. Fish that seems to melt off your fork, sweet honey wine that tasted like blackberries picked on a summer day. You take a couple pastries and hide them in a folded napkin. A midnight treat in your bag. 

On the carriage ride back you sway slightly with the rolling beast, still lapping the feeling of a wonderful evening with friends. You don't want it to end. So when you arrive at your family home, you make a beeline for the gardens instead.

Being from the Spice Isles, the herb garden makes up the first part. Mint, coriander, rosemary, basil, and whatever someone could require. They lead to a small courtyard with a fountain and willow trees bending over curiously, always watching your movements. The stars are bright, and the moon is large and luminous reflected in the moonlight.

“You should get some rest,” you hear his familiar voice say. He blends into the night, but you have to correct your earlier thoughts about him. He is not ordinary - this is as he was meant to be seen. Dressed casually in  trousers and a shirt, the way he stands up straight with his hands behind his back only shows off his physique. He worked hard as a soldier, you can tell, and wonder what life choices lead him to you.

You are radiant like the sun - but he is as cool and calm as the winter night you find yourself in. The open air feels too small to contain you two as Rémy sits down next to you on the fountain. Your skin prickles, and you distract yourself by pulling the sugary fried dough from the napkin you stole from the party.

“Would you like one?” you ask, eager to distract yourself from the warmth of his body, so close to you.

“If you don’t mind miss,” he says with a small smile. His face is as soft as you’ve seen it, the smile making his cheekbones even more pronounced. You break the pastry in half, and crumbs of sticky sugar coat your fingertips. 

You take a small bite the way you were always taught. Not only honoring the Goddess in your looks but your actions as well. What would be most aesthetically pleasing to her? But he didn’t seem to have the same consideration, devouring half in one bite. 

You can’t help but laugh at the look  of him. Sugar crystals coat his lips and part of his face - he’s made a complete and utter mess of himself.

“Oh Rémy,” you say softly, looking for a handkerchief in your belongings.  You manage to find some ridiculous lacey thing and reach forward. Rémy freezes at your touch, as you clean the drops carefully, lightly.

“Miss,” he says softly, his breath warm against your hand. He reaches his own hand up to cover yours and you rest on his cheeks. He plucks the handkerchief out of your hand and presses the softest kiss into the palm of your hand. 

You inhale sharply, he waits for the smallest nod before continuing his way up the inside of your forearm, to your shoulder. Your eyes flutter closed when the barest trace of a tongue on your neck sends electricity through your body. But nothing compared to when his lips connect with yours. Weeks of barbed exchanges, you didn’t think his mouth would be so soft. His lips are sweet like the pastry and fit perfectly against yours.

He tugs a coily strand of hair lightly as it springs up and smiles against you. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do this, miss.”