Dipper sat in his study reading a hard covered, rust colored book about the supernatural creatures in the forests just outside the manor gardens. He was originally supposed to be listening to his Great Uncle Ford's lecture, but…. Eh who cares.
“Matthew Pines! Are you listening! Shut that book!”, the old grouch rattled
Dipper slowly, as slow as was humanly possible, closed his book and swiveled his head to look at Ford.
”I'm listening, gruncel dearest.” Dipper said with a little smirk.
Ford's eye's drilled caverns into Dipper's head.
'If looks could kill', Dipper wondered
Ford returned to his rant, “The life of an aristocratic heir is not a simple, clean cut thing. Days of study and practice to give the appearance of pristine perfection are long and tiresome. Learning to socialize and negotiate are the top priority of these youths. After all, they are the future of sophistication and economic control. Every heir is trained to excellence and nothing below that. Surpassing the works of your sire is what is expected of you…..”
Returning to his book, Dipper thought about how his life wasn't always like this.
Originally, when Dipper and his twin sister arrived to their great uncles' manor they were under the care of 'Count Stanley Pines', better known as grunkle Stan to the twins.
They spent the days adventuring the forests and reading pure fiction. They never were scolded for being too loud or not completing their studies to complete perfection. They could learn to cook or they could play the maids' children. They could help the injured creatures in the forests or learn to weave fabric in the near by town. Those days were always bright and new. The sun never set on the twins' wonder.
And then, Great Uncle Ford returned from his year long expedition.
The sunlight the twins had was quickly shrunken to a weak flame and extinguished. Great Uncle Ford immediately took over the life of the twins claiming that Stan had "ill-prepared the twins" for their social rank.
The twins watched, as their adventure, their wonder was taken away and replaced with rule after rule. The maids' children were no longer playmates but examples of the future workers, multiple levels below the twins' social standing. There were no more trips to the forests and all fictional books were removed from the library.
Instead of learning to cook or weave they were taught to master chess or how to work a business proposal in their favor.
Going into town was a thing of the past.
The only thing the twins could look forward to was the occasional invitation to join another noble household for tea or the straight necked galas thrown just to show off wealth among other aristocrats. It was pointless peacocking to Dipper and useless stress too.
Dipper could never perform specific tasks as perfectly as his twin could. He could never beat his twin in a chess match. He could never do this or he could never do that. He just wasn't good enough. When the twins turned sixteen, Dipper found out why his life was so pressured. Mabel was declared the heiress to the Pines company and Dipper would fade into the shadows, just like grunckel Stan. Dipper was Mabel's highly trained understudy. He and Mabel were tested constantly to see who would be the better heir.
Now all Dipper has to worry about is his social image and knowledge of politics. Mabel has to study, make herself known, and attend social gatherings. They rarely see one another, yet Mabel never acts any different to Dipper. No mater how many days fluttered by, Mabel would always be the sunny twin Dipper knew.
One cold October, after the twins turned seventeen, Mabel told Great Uncle Ford about a particularly interesting young lady she met. Thus, beginning Ford’s indomitable attempts to have both twins engaged by their eighteenth birthday. It wasn’t as if it was an unspoken statement to get rid of the twins. Ford felt that the twins needed a even more secure future, especially Dipper.
Less than two months after the conversation in October, Mabel was engaged to a stiff, proud girl. Her name was Pacifica and Mabel was in love with her. It was bad enough that Dipper had to deal with a micro analyzing uncle, now he has to deal with a enamored sister and an uncle hell bent on get him to marry and behave like an heir.
But hey why should he care he’s in the middle of an interesting book.
“… leading to the next topic”, Ford continued, ”You need to stop refusing every suitor that comes to meet you. It’s embarrassing enough that you won’t so much as leave the manor, unless it deals with a magical creature. I swear, you are going to marry! So, at least try to pick one you like, or I will pick for you!”
“Nope!”, Dipper cheerfully shouted, derision laced in his voice. Snapping his book shut with one hand Dipper stands and ambled to the, cream colored, French doors leading to the manor's back gardens. 'I’m not having this foolish squabble again', Dipper thought to himself.
“Get back here, this instant!" Ford shouted, voice slowly fading from Dipper's ears as he sauntered down the cobble stone paths.
Dipper continued to walk to the grand hedge maze. 'This is unnecessary stress and I’m not doing it', Dipper grumbled, as he disappeared into the maze of shrubbery.
The sun's rays leaked through gaps in the canopy of wisteria. Dipper was securely walled in by the maze's emerald hedges. The floor was a bed of red and orange leaves, crunching as Dipper walked further into the maze. Dipper knows the maze like the back of his hand and his goal lies in the very center of it. Left. Right. Right. Left. And straightforward.
The canopies disappear leaving a vast, azure sky in their wake. The hedges open into a roof-less room, walls built by the green plants, with a crystal fountain surrounded by marble benches on each wall.
This is the serenity Dipper seeks. He choose the bench to his right to sit down and continue reading. He lost all worry and care towards his looming fate, set for him by his ,”dearest”, Great uncle. Dipper was simply able to forget. He spent from noon to dusk in on that marble bench, in the empty maze, just enjoying the sound of the fountain and the tales in his book.
But happy little moments can’t last. So as he watched the sky turn amber, he picked up his book and grimly walked to the manor’s dinning room. He passed the elaborate rose gardens, filled with the colors of autumn, and reached the cream doors of his study. With one last longing look at the gardens, Dipper turned and entered the shadowy study.
He carefully set his book next to the mountain of letters on his mahogany desk. Glancing briefly at the addresses and names he quickly lost interest and walked to the ruby colored hall. He stopped momentarily to close and securely lock his study, then continued on through the hall.
Glancing at the many faces of paintings as he walked, he reached the main entrance to the manor. Briefly peering down to the Pine's family crest centered in the entryway, he traced the outline that made the pine tree in the center of a shield with two crossed swords behind it. Scoffing at his family’s ridiculously simple crest he continued to the dining room.
As soon as Dipper opened the large oak doors, he was tackled to the ground by a large pile of green fabric. As Dipper began to regain his wit he realized that the pile of fabric had long hair, his face, and was squeezing the life out of him with her signature bear hug.
“M-Mabel! I’m glad to see you too, but I can’t breath.” Dipper playfully picked, well, as much as a man being strangled could.
“Opps, sorry Dip-dop!” Mabel chuckled, releasing Dipper from her python hug.
Collecting himself, Dipper accepted Mabel's help up.
“How long have you been home? I thought you and Pacifica were gone for another week.” Dipper asked, dusting off his slacks and adjusting his cravat.
“Well, the business proposal was absolute rubbish and we found a passenger ship that would get us from France to here sooner.” Mabel claimed with her voice sounding almost musical.
“Well I’m glad to see you arrived safely.”
“I wish you would have joined us in France. We saw all sorts of shows and bakeries. The wine there in amazing! You would never be able to experience it the same! Oh, I bought you several gifts while I was there!”
“ That’s very kind of you Mabel. Perhaps after dinner we can see your souvenirs.” Dipper lead Mabel to the dining table.
Finally seated, Dipper noticed that Pacifica was joining them and Ford was not. Sighing Dipper said his hellos and shrank into silence as his tablemates made small talk around him. The candles lighting the room danced away as they were served soup, entree, and desert. Dipper barley picked at his food, it was late and he just wanted to retire to his quarters for a good nights rest.
Just as he excused himself from the table, the family’s head butler, Soos, rushed through the doors. He urgently rushed to Stan with a letter, and quickly whispered something to him.
“Thank you Soos, you are dismissed.” Stan said and opened the letter.
Dipper, still awkwardly standing by his chair, elected to sit down and hear what was so urgent that Soos would run in during dinner. Stan stiffened and looked up from his reading to speak.
“ Apparently, the King has set up a last minute masquerade. We are all urged to come and mingle. It’s a week from today. Excuse me as I go inform Ford.” Stan said as he stood up and exited the room.
“Ooh, a masquerade! That sounds like so much fun! I wonder what I’m going to wear. And Pacifica we should both wear our engagement rings and our family crests and…..” Mabel squealed on and on…
Dipper shrugged said good night and was off. ' A masquerade sounds nice. No one will see your face so no worries of making a fool out of yourself. I think I’ll join this little trip to the palace.' Dipper thought.
He slipped past his great uncle’s study and made his way up the grand staircase to the awaiting blue halls. He passed window after window showing the manor’s grounds shrouded by night. He finally made it to his quarters and shrugged out of his coat and trousers and into his night ware. He the climbed into his royal blue, canopy bed and snuffed out his bed side candle.
'A break from isolation would be nice and grunckel Ford would think it’s to meet potential suitors, so he would be off my tail for awhile.', Dipper thought as sleep slowly clouded his mind, 'Yes, this masquerade ball will be relaxing'
And, oh, had Dipper ever been so wrong.