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April 2016

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Silent Cinderella - The Servant Girl (Chp3)

The Servant Girl

Cinderella was a normal girl. She enjoyed a happy life and lived everyday to its fullest. After the death of her beloved father, however, things changed drastically. She quickly became the servant in her home. Her life revolved around the whims of her two brutish stepsisters and her days were contained in the iron grasp of her cruel-willed stepmother. Though, true to her nature, she'd just smile and do whatever needed to be done - "There's nothing to it, really!" she'd say, no matter the time of day.

According to them, she could never do anything right, no matter how hard she tried. Her stepmother's upper lip would always curl as she sneered and demeaned her abilities, looks, intelligence and whatever else she could think of. Although her family kept her hopping, and almost dizzy with all the work, she stayed busy - as her stepmother would remind her, true to her nature as one lower than the lady of the house.

She tried not to be bitter, so a dreamer she became. Cinderella promised herself she'd do something, anything, to gain their affection. The young girl just wanted her family to know she was more than what she appeared.

And in the end, while she may not have gained her family's favours, she became a princess and was able to truly shine. Although she had been ostracized as 'the servant girl', she had always done her best. The young lady became the kingdom's kind and respected princess due to her optimistic nature and gentle heart. Her prince-with whom it had been love at first sight—had come and swept her off her feet, paving the way for their 'happily ever after'.

.~.

It was a wonderful Monday morning and nothing was going to change that. The sun was shining brightly and her breakfast smelt absolutely amazing—it was going to be a great day for sure! She ran lightly down the stairs, stopping to fix her hair in the reflection of a photo halfway down, before going into the kitchen.

"Ohayou~! That smells so good!" The redhead sat down and quickly started eating.

"Ohayou, Shizuka-chan." Her mother responded vaguely, more preoccupied with making her bento.

After finishing the delicious meal, the young girl finished packing her bag and left home with a cheery "See you later!" followed by wave. Smiling as she jogged to school, Shizuka really couldn't understand why people didn't like Mondays.

.~.

Kaiba Seto was not a man who was ever late (and if such an event were to occur, he simply acted as though everybody else was early). By seven a.m., he was in his office at Kaiba Corporation, starting up his computer and reading over his schedule for the day (although he'd much rather be in bed like his lucky little brother). As usual, Hanako presented him with breakfast and her 'breakfast beverage of the week'. He'd long ago learnt to let her mother him; and since he usually left home at such a stupid hour, most mornings he couldn't be bothered with breakfast so the girl's thoughtfulness was greatly appreciated. The meal was always accompanied with a perky "Good morning, Seto-sama!" (he occasionally felt guilty about grunting in response, but who could honestly be that cheery at such an hour?).

Apart from the usual appointments and such, his schedule also contained a note for the following Monday, and how, due to the differences of that day's schedule, this week had had to be rearranged. Belatedly, he called out to Hanako as she was leaving the room, querying on the change (the CEO didn't mind change—that is, of course, if it were on his terms). As soon as the secretary started speaking, Seto wished he'd asked after he had drunk coffee or had woken up some more.

"Apart from your usual schedule, we've had to rearrange things for next Monday's meeting." Clearly used to the lack of conversation and being a master of understanding his "I'm-going-to-pretend-I-actually-know-what-you're-talking-about" look, Hanako spared her boss the trouble of asking and ranted on.

"I2 want to have their annual meeting then, and they aren't taking no for an answer. In exchange for letting them have it when they want, it'll only be for a few hours, rather than a full day." (And this was the reason he hired Hanako - she made him spend less time with Pegasus. The girl was obviously a genius.)

"Monday is also the briefing for the new scholarship interns. They should be here by 5 o'clock, but hopefully they'll arrive earlier so we can start before then," (as the shorter brunette thought of last year's hopeless bunch—none had lasted the entire internship—she vowed that heads would roll if the new lot weren't any better), "and we can wrap things up and be out of here by about 8:30!"

Kaiba nodded and sipped at his drink, obviously still trying to process all she had ranted on about. Hanako bowed and smiled gently, leaving his office quietly. She had had to re-arrange her own schedule to, due to I2 people's stubbornness and the interns briefing. But, the faster she got her work done, the faster Friday would come! A free weekend before next Monday (the secretary, although young, was experienced enough with these events to know that if something could go horribly wrong, it definitely would) would do her a world of good!

And a free weekend meant a cheap glass of wine, some cheesy romantic movie, ice-cream and her fluffy cat. Of course, she had to go and ruin the enjoyment of her weekend by reminding herself of Minako's upcoming plans. Her sister's weekend involved a shopping spree, three parties, a beauty salon and a date with an incredibly gorgeous guy...

She reached her desk and sat down, swiveling her chair to stare at Seto's door. Sighing, Hanako wished her boss wasn't so oblivious to her. She desperately hoped he'd pick up her hints soon—she definitely had no desire to become a Christmas cake! But for now, at least, it was going to be another week of daydreams fighting away loneliness and chasing away her one and only, most obvious, unrequited love.

.~.

Monday morning dawned after a typical week had gone by. The week had been the first in many to be without rain, and Shizuka had prospered. The young girl had passed two tests and her English teacher had surprisingly approved of the Cinderella idea (again, she let herself get caught up in watching the dramas on NHK and hadn't had the time to plan a decent idea). Shizuka had also met up with friends for coffee, ate the most amazing cupcakes, and had watched the new Harry Potter movie! (The first part of Deathly Hallows was amazing naturally, but the teen couldn't decide whether Fred was cuter than George, or if it was the other way around...)

But, as her luck (so unlike Jounouchi's own amazing luck) ran out as the new week rolled around. Her hair was a mess and the iron was refusing to iron so her school uniform was equally as horrid. She yawned and stretched, putting on her jumper (at least she'd been able to remove the stain).

The red-head was running late and fell down the stairs. As she thumped down the remainder of the stairs, Shizuka quietly sighed.

"I really don't like Mondays...".

Her mother, having heard the soft grumblings, simply tsked. "Too bad! You're running late as it is! Take this, have your breakfast, and get moving!"

Her mother left to go to work and Shizuka packed her bag, not really in the mood to rush. Much to her annoyance, the clock seemed to tick louder with each second. After she finished packing her bag, the teen looked at the clock and could have sworn.

It wasn't until she was halfway down the street that she realised she was chewing on the letters her mother had left for her. She kept running, mourning the toast that was becoming cold on the kitchen table. Giving an aggravated cry, the girl stuffed the letters in her bag without care and kept running, listening to her stomach growl almost as angrily as she was.

.~.

However, it wasn't until lunch that day (when, naturally, she found she'd only packed half her lunch) that the horrible-tasting letters were read. Shizuka then proceeded to spit out her juice (much to the disgust of her friends) and promptly started freaking out.

.~.

It was 5:15pm, and she had had quite enough crap for one day, thank you very much. She was beyond late, beyond tired and beyond caring. The teen had been given permission to skip her afternoon lessons begrudgingly (Shizuka herself wasn't keen on the idea - she was going to have to wait until tomorrow to get the materials and then she had to spend time catching up on top of that) but by the time she got to the train station, she found the train she had planned to take had left a few moments before it should have! She then got the second train (which was a lot quieter than the first would have been) and did her homework slowly, the midday sun making her drowsy and complacent.

Once arriving in Domino, she got lost. She felt as though this was a first for anyone - with the Kaiba Corporation building as large, imposing and dominating as it is, how was it possible for anyone to miss it? After getting directions from a kind looking housewife, Shizuka became even more lost in the bustling city. 'I really should have known - she looked as though she'd never worked a day in her life, so why would she know how to get anywhere? Probably has a chauffeur and everything!' (Shizuka did feel guilty about thinking about someone like that, especially after the lady attempted to help her, but that did nothing for her situation). In the end, it was a crazy punk looking guy with a blue and green Mohawk and numerous piercings that showed her the way. He even walked her to the fancy sliding doors and wished her luck!

And so, when the stylish glass and steel doors to Kaiba Corporation's Board Room One slammed behind her at somewhere close to half past five in the evening, all Shizuka could do was mumble a mere and feeble "I'm so very sorry I'm late..!" in response to the five pairs of eyes that landed on her frazzled form. A professional looking woman (Kaiba's secretary as she soon found out) glared at her. Kaiba looked annoyed (but was that something like expectation in his glance too?).

Kaiba snorted. "You're late, Kawai. Sit down and listen. You've wasted enough of my time as it is." She did as she was told. Inside, Shizuka was close to tears. She'd wanted to get here early too. The joy of the receiving the scholarship had been erased by the embarrassment of being late. Kaiba's usual glare upset her, although it never had before.

She felt as though she had let him down. Here he had given her this wonderful opportunity, and she was already stuffing up. The young girl had so much she wanted to say to the CEO—she wanted to thank him for helping her, she wanted to tell him how much this meant to her. But that would have to wait for a time when he was less mad and more likely to listen to her appreciation.

.~.

He told her to sit, and in contrast to her brother, she did (as much as he was tempted to make a crack or two about her brother, now wasn't the place or time. Besides, it was much more fun to rile up the mutt himself rather than the meek sibling). She had shuffled to her seat timidly, trying to make herself as discrete and small as possible. Kaiba smirked as Hanako gave her a passing exasperate glance and kept continuing with her speech on etiquette at Kaiba Corporation.

Still the girl continued to behave, despite the disapproving glare Terauchi sent her behind rectangular black glasses and Higurashi's poorly disguised snigger. Although he had acknowledged Hanako's exasperation, he had to do a double take after looking Kawai. She looked like she'd just finished a marathon (had she forgotten to pack an umbrella? The forecast had quite clearly said there would be afternoon showers). Despite the less than stellar first impression, his attitude that he could expect nothing else from the mutt's sister changed minutely for the better as the briefing continued.

The redhead sat quietly and listened attentively (much more than bleached blonde across the table was). She answered questions appropriately and filled out her contracts quickly and without fuss. As the smaller brunette's lecture continued on about keeping up grades, professional behaviour and the work expected from interns, the young (and ultimately bored) CEO wondered why he couldn't just do his part first and then leave.

It made sense really. Hanako covered everything in such precise detail (there was such a thing as doing a job too well, he thought) that all he got to do was re-summarize (which he had to admit, was probably quite useful—even he tuned out after a while of high-speed Hana-speak; the newbies had no chance at remembering everything) and get to know them a bit better. While he hated going last, he also didn't like the idea of his secretary walking to her car by herself. The underground carpark was so safe it was almost ridiculous, but he was paranoid (that and he would probably drown in work if something ever happened to Hanako. Plus, Minako would cry and yell at him. That girl always gave him a headache...)

As Hanako moved onto the next part of her informative rant regarding the amount of work expected from the interns ("A full day - 9 to 5 - every Saturday and at least 10 hours, at your discretion, to be performed within the rest of the week. You are also expected to complete a full week's worth of week during the summer break, so don't even plan on a vacation!") so he glanced at the clock, stifling a sigh. He shouldn't even be here!

It was Yamamoto's job as head of PR to deal with this stuff, but he was still enjoying his annual leave. Shinji, the idiot he left in charge, should have taken over. For some odd reason, the young man had suddenly become very fidgety and worked an insane amount of overtime, leading to some type of breakdown. (Seto had no doubt in blaming Hana for this. She was known for planting seeds of doubt into people she didn't think were good enough with just a few well chosen words...Apart from that, she was smiling when she delivered the news that Shinji would be absent for the next few weeks.)

In any case, with such short notice, the young CEO felt obliged to step in. And naturally, wherever there's a 'Kaiba-sama~!' there's an over-working, sneaky, motherly, annoying but very much appreciated secretary to pick up the pieces, keep everything as it should be and smile despite his flaws and bad attitude. He was greatful she decided to take on the majority of the briefing - he really should have been home with Mokuba rather than dealing with a bunch of girls.

One of his phones started vibrating and his hand hopefully went to his personal mobile. Thankfully, Mokuba understood why he had to work so much, and rarely demanded his full time attention. Despite the fact his brother was kind enough to let him work and at times even help himself when he should be playing with friends or something, Seto never ceased to feel guilty. And a bit robbed to be honest - Mokuba was a great kid, who wouldn't want to spend time with him?

No matter what anyone else said (Kawai especially), he definitely had the world's best brother. Mokuba was obviously a truly special person - how else would he have been able to put up with someone like him for so long? It felt wrong to leave Mokuba by himself so often. Seto wished for nothing more than to be able to change that.

Right now, however, his hand reluctantly dragged itself to his business phone. He signaled Hanako to start the break early and left the room briskly. The secretary followed soon after, leaving the three teenage girls and their significantly different personalities alone in a room with their tea. And that is where the fun began.

.~.

"Kawai, is it? Do you know Kaiba-sama?" A girl who looked slightly taller than Shizuka's was the first to speak. She was rather plain-looking, with a short and sleek black bob and a tidy fringe, but the brown eyes behind thickset glasses were sharp and analytical (if she were honest, they kinda gave her the creeps...). Her clothes gave a stern impression as well - the girl already looked like she worked as a professional in a high profile company. Seeing her mature looks and way of speaking, Shizuka wasn't surprised she was offered a scholarship. There was no comparison in appearance to Shziuka's messy hair and untidy uniform.

Before she could respond, Shizuka was interrupted by the other girl. She scoffed, rolled her eyes and flicked her hair back simultaneously - while Shizuka made it a goal never to dislike someone, the red-head knew this girl was going to make her skin itch.

"Please, as if! You think Mr. Amazing himself would know a common brat like her?" Annoyed at being called a 'common brat' (considering the other girl obviously hadn't looked in a mirror before), Shizuka was going to interject, but the other teen just kept talking. "Seriously, what were you thinking? Showing up like that, for Kaiba Seto of all people! I was here two hours early!" The raven haired girl stayed silent at this, choosing to gently quirk an eyebrow instead. "And showing up in your school uniform - what the hell? That's so unprofessional! Are you trying to seduce him or something? Because if you are, it's definitely not working! I mean, it doesn't even look good on you!"

Splat!

The tea that had been prepared for them splattered on the girl's face. Of course, this happened just as Kaiba and his companion re-entered the room. Rivulets of the now cold drink trickled from the furious expression on her face to the pink material of her designer top, taking makeup with it as it descended. Shizuka grew pale and slowly brought her hand back to her side while glasses girl smirked. The secretary looked mortified and her first (and hopefully only) enemy glared daggers at her from her seat.

And Kaiba himself? To put it simply, he wasn't the slightest bit impressed.

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