In the Garden of the Beast: Chapter 2

The next morning, Relena was having a hard time finding the willpower to free herself from the toasty, comfortable confines of her bed, adorned with itís lavish pillows and blankets. A very, very hard time, considering the soothing sound of the rain on the window glass, and the darkness that filled the room was enough to her packing off to dream land.

But, Relena decided, it would not make a very good impression upon the household if she was to over-sleep after her first night in her new home. What would they all think. "Of all the impetuous, lazy girls...." She bet they would say. And her brother had always stressed the importance of good impressions upon others.

So, after much deliberation if ten more minutes would make any difference, and a phenomenal muster of will-power, Relena swung the covers back from her body. A rush of slightly cool air followed, brushing over her body in smooth caresses. Then it took about another five minutes, and another great muster of will to sit up, and swing her legs over the side of the bed.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Relena gave a large yawn only rivaled by that of her former pets.

After washing her face in the small basin inside the bathroom, and brushing her hair, Relena trotted over to the wardrobe, and realized then she had forgotten to unpack the night before. But, her bag was no where to be found. Perhaps one of the servants had unpacked it for her.

She shrugged, and supposed she would have to make due with whatever sensible dress she could find in the wardrobe. Later, she clothed herself in a simple dress of cotton, with a front-laced bodice of a light taupe, and a light pink skirt concealing her undergarments, and almost covering her simple brown slippers she had brought with her.

Relena cast a forlorn look to the grand windows. She had hoped to go exploring the gardens today. Gardening had always been a special hobby for her. It had a relaxing effect upon her, and she just enjoyed spending her time mostly with the plants instead of with the people that seemed to always be stopping by to see that her and her brother were doing all right. She felt very awkward around people, though her brother said she had a knack for mediating situations, like the disputes that come up during market days.

Heaving a sigh of dissappointment, she turned away from the windows, and stepped outside the massive doors into the halls. She had no idea what she was going to do with herself today, but she supposed (as her tummy gave some input), that she should go eat breakfast before anything else.

Relena found the halls to be quite empty as she lost herself in the maze of passageways. She really wondered whether all the rooms were put to use or not. It seemed to be such a waste if they werenít. Though, she couldnít really say having a big, enchanted mansion out in the middle of nowhere served any sort of purpose either, but hey, who was she to decide something of the such.

The hallway had begun to darken into a dreary state as she furthered down her current way. Tapestries and portraits hung ominously upon the walls. Now, one might think that in an environment such as this would cause some sort of unease to a person. But Relena had always been one to keep a cool head, though at times she was a bit melodramatic. Acutally, she began to do quite the opposite, and that was become quite perturbed. Honestly, what sort of person makes a long, ominous hallway for an enchanted mansion out in the middle of nowhere, when practically no one will get to see it?

And such annoyance grew, until finally she came to the end of the hall, only to find it led to another passageway of the expansive mansion. This frazzled Relena even more so. Her feet were beginning to hurt, and she was hungry. Though she hadnít been at first, all that walking works up an appetite, and well, letís just say, relena didnít have a lot of extra reserves in a time of famine.

Thankfully, help had arrived. Or well, actually, the form of help that was about to tap on Relenaís shoulder had been wandering for quite some time around the mansion, as he usually did, being a nocturnal sort of person.

" Mademoiselle Relena?" A soft voice asked from behind, and an equally soft on her shoulder touch sent electricity down her spine. She found the master of the house clothed in what was said to be respectable pajamas and a robe behind her. It was as she stood enraptured by his eyes, but his hand on her shoulder, that she realized just how short he really was. For, after all, he was eye-level with her, and Relena could not said to have been on of the tallest variety, even though her brother had inherited those genes. But it couldnít have been said she was extremely short either. She was justÖ petite. But for a man, that height was just plain short.

But Relena wasnít really mulling over the details at that moment. What was more on her mind was the way his fur and unruly hair curled around his features, modestly covering his forehead and neck, tied back at the nape. Or how his eyes melded from an almost black navy at the outermost edges, but blended into a soft sky blue around the iris. Or perhaps the stong set jaw, but the soft cheeckbones, and rounded point of the chin. But maybe it could have been his fantastically shaped nose that was curious to the French, but otherwise still fascinating with no apparent bridge, but repectable point, and nicely sized nostrils. She really could study his appearance forever she had decided.

But it happened, that forever, at least at this moment, had only been five minutes.

Heero really didnít know what she had been staring at that was so darn interesting, but it was starting to make him nervous, (which wasnít hard to do to such a comulsively nervous man) and he finally cleared his throat. Relena gave a little jerk, and made eye contact for a second, before directing her interest to her foled hands.

He once again spoke in the alluring voice of his that wasnít quite French with a melodious accent that blended perfectly with his voice so as it almost sounded like music. "Mademoiselle Relena." He started again. "What are you doing awake so early?"

She was startled by that comment, and looked to his eyes. "Early? Why I always wake up at this time." She shrugged. "Actually I was afraid I had over-slept this morning. Iím usually a light sleeper, but I must have been more tired than I had thought." She flushed what a blatantly revealing statement that was.

He remained silent for a moment, and she felt as if he was studying her carefully, like one of those scientists she had heard of. "Ah. Quite understandable," was all the response he gave. They were plunged into another moment of silence.

Which was viciously interrupted by the rumbling of relenaís highly impatient and stuborn digestive system, namely her stomach. She flushed even more, and took to inspecting her feet.

"Ah. If you would not mind me accompanying you, I am sure there is some sort of breakfast to be had in the kitchen."

"Of course." She rewarded him with a blinding smile. "Iím afraid I was lost before I stepped out of my room."

"Yes, the mansion can be quite a pesky creature at times."

Relena decided not to question such a questionable statement, for she had neever been much of one for surprises.

Relena had begun to feel dizzy when they reached the great hall. But the great expansiveness of the hall itself was enough to send Relena reeling. But she was determined to keep her head on straight, and not fall onto the floor at her first morning in her new home.

That is odd. Relena thought as she examined her surroundings carefully. The décor had certainly been different yesterday. And she had been sure there had been an extensive tapestry of what she was sure had been of an Asian making, though she had never seen much of anything Asian. And the tiles had been differentÖ.

"Quite odd indeedÖ." She mummbled to her self quietly.

"Did you say something Mademoiselle?" Heero looked at her curiously.

"Oh, Iím sure itís just my imagination, but I thought there had been a tapestry on the wall yesterday, and the tiles do seem wholly different. As I said, Iím sure itís just my silly mind." She gave a somewhat embarassed smile as she realized what a silly thing she had just said.

"You are not silly Mademoiselle. And the room was different yesterday."

"ThenÖ." The thought trailed off as the pair of eyes on the young womanís face went wide and she blushed a deep crimsom as she finally noticed the pair of lovers that had made themselves apparent the day before when she had arrived.

She turned her back on the scene, and gave a little cough. All the while after seeing his new living companionís reaction, Heero just growled something about what rooms were made for, and the indignity of it all.

"Maxwell, I donít suppose you would be willing to make some breakfast for Mademoiselle Relena would you? Seeing as you are awake, and if I remember correctly that could qualify you for cooking duties." His voice austere and firm in the orders it gave.

Hilde yelped, and quickly disentangled herself from the arms of her capturer. Wiping her mouth, she curtseyed, and mummbled in a hurried way an apology, and quickly strided over to Relenaís side.

"Mademoiselle Relena." She gave in a defeated sort of voice that is she had not speaking words, would have came out as a whimper. "I am dreadfully sorry. I did not realize you were awake this early or else-"

"Oh, itís alright Hilde. I am sure other important things were of much more value to your time than to see me dress when I have been doing it since I was three." She gave a sly grin, and leaned in towards the also petite, but in a smaller sort of way, girlís ear. "He really is quite handsome. I can certainly see why you decided to, shall we say, spend quality time with him."

"Mademoiselle Relena!" She feigned a shocked look, but quickly giggled. Lacing her arm through the somewhat taller girlís, she headed her towards the kitchen. "Now, Iím sure you are positively ravishing. And who better to fix you some wonderful breakfast than me?"

"Maybe the cook Hilde. Donít trust her with food Mademoiselle, she makes the oddest things." The young man labeled as "handsome" earlier strided up on the other side of Relena, and laced his arms with hers in a similar fashion to that of Hildeís and Relenaís.

"I do not. Donít listen to him Mademoiselle. I make prefectly fine food. Just because it doesnít happen to be of the French variety doesnít mean anything. Does it Maitre Heero?" And instead of wating for an answer, she continued, "As I thought. Now weíll get you some nice sauerkraut and perhaps some biscuits."

Relena gave "Maitre Heero" a quick smile of hopeless apology, and allowed herself to be dragged along to the kitchen by the bickering lovers.

"So, is it true you are from Asia?" Relena broke the silence as she sat on the window seat, next to Heero. After a few moments he did not respond, so she quietly continued, "Iím sorry, that was rude. I just heard from Hilde that you werenít French andÖ."

His brow furrowed as he stared out into the rain of the somewhat small window in the library. "No, itís alright. Iím from Japan actually. Do you know where Japan is?"

"Asia?" She gave a goofy grin at the stupidity of the joke.

"Yes. Off the coast of China."

"Ah, I have heard of China too. That Spanish explorer visited and lived there didnít he? The school teacher in the village told me that one market dayÖ." She choked down a lump in her throat as the subject of her village came up. Four months after her arrival at the mansion and she still got all teary eyed at it.

Wiping her eyes, she forced a bitter laugh. "Honestly, one of these days Iím really going to have to stop crying at a simple conversation." She turned her eyes back to the window.

Something flickered in the beastís eyes as they made eye contact, but was gone in an instant.

She sniffed back her remaining tears, and quickly slavaged the discussion. "Whatís it like in Japan?" She cocked her head to the side, giving another one of her smiles.

"Quite different."

Silence. "How?"

"Well, clothes, houses, eating utensils, food, and such. Itís just an alien culture that is contrasts greatly from this one.

"Ah." Relena had at first been annoyed and frustrated at the lack of information and talk between her and Heero, but she had soon grown accustomed, and no longer needed those extra words.

Over the past four months the two had spent every afternoon together. Sometimes, when it wasnít raining, they would go browse the gardens, after Relenaís request. It was there that she had found more plants than she had ever known of. Grand amounts of greenery were to be found in the already grand amount of gardens. They had yet to browse all the wonderful greenhouses and fields. For as it was, more often than not, and they were stuck in the library due to the rain.

It had been over the last month that Relena had discovered Heeroís pleasure for reading, and it was understandable that when she wished to find him, he was in the library. Relena thought libraries were fine and dandy, but what could a girl do if she couldnít read more than her name, and a few choice words. But Heero had become rather adamant about changing that. Though she had more than once stated that she would rather be out attending to the roses in the rain than reading about fairy tales of fancy that never come true.

Fairy tales were pointless he pointed out to him during one session. They could never happen, never had happened, and they were just made to lull children to sleep when their parents didnít feel like entertaining the children. Heero had decided to move onto more factual books the next day.

In any case, such events had increased their time together. It had once been remarked by a certain braided servant that: "If youíre looking for Maitre Heero, find Relena. If youíre looking for Relena, find Maitre Heero." Relena just shrugged and smiled at the statement.

Itís not that she really minded anyway. She feltÖ nice around Heero. And enjoyed his company too. And she supposed thatís all that really mattered anymore.