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Cinderelena (part 2)


The girl frowned at the speck of dirt and furiously rubbed it away. Satisfied it was now spotless she relaxed and tossed back her shoulder-length light brown hair. She was about to rise and throw the rag back into the kitchen when the front door slammed open, bringing in a new load of dust and dirt.

"Damn," she sighed. A familiar girl with long hair and the longest set of split eyebrows strode in, leaving a set of muddy prints behind her. She walked past the kneeling girl then turned back as if suddenly noticing the mess she made on the polished floor.

"Oops, sorry, Relena," she said without the least apologetic tone in her words. She grinned wickedly and flew up the staircase to the upper levels of the house like a banshee wind on the loose.

"Yeah, right, Dorothy." Relena muttered sarcastically. Her stepsister was a very annoying pest. Unfortunately, her stepmother was even worse. The Lady Une had married her father a year after he, the Lord Kraft, had mourned the death of her beautiful mother. Barely two years later her father had followed suit. The Lady Une had good looks and brains, that much she admitted, but she fell way short of kindness and humanity. Good fashion sense too, now that she thought of it. She would have been much more beautiful if she let her hair free like Dorothy, but she kept it plaited and tied into two buns on each side of her head. It made her look rather… weird. And to tie it with ribbons like a little girl? Economic, yes. Beautiful, definitely no.

"Have you finished with the floor, Relena? You’ve the laundry to do and the kitchen to clean up."

Speak of the devil, she thought. "Almost."

"Hurry up. I’m expecting important visitors," the Lady Une said coldly.

"Of course," she muttered and increased her speed. It was most probably that Treize fellow from the next kingdom. He was tall and handsome enough, but just not her type. Besides being way too old for her. Now, the Crown Prince was a different matter entirely.

She’d seen him once when she was little and both her parents had been alive. As important nobles, they’d been invited to one of the Crown Prince’s birthday parties. She had hated him at first, for he ignored her every overture and words and he even dared to threaten to kill her! All he did was to play with his brother Prince Quatre. She’d been smitten shortly by his intense, serious eyes and beautiful tousled hair that made her want to comb it back into order. She’d been dreaming about him ever since. She never got the chance to see him again, since he was fostered away the next year and her parents had passed away. The Lady Une was not so close to the Royal family as to be invited to any social functions so she couldn’t even ask Quatre about his brother.

But she’d heard that the Crown Prince had returned. What would Heero look like now? Taller certainly, with the same beautiful eyes and mussed hair. Maybe he’d grown out of his cold shell and would be more receptive to her advances. But she couldn’t be seen like this now. She’d need a new dress, a manicure, a….

Ting! Ting! Ting!

Relena shot out of her daydream. The doorbell was ringing. "Well, answer it, girl!" the Lady Une said irritably from her seat in the living room. She quickly brushed the worst of the dust and dirt away from her tattered dress and opened the door. A man dressed in costly silk in the colors of the Palace stood there. He looked officious and important.

"Where are the masters of this house?" he asked, eyes sweeping over Relena then obviously dismissing her as a lowly servant. She felt insulted by that and leveled her best glare at him.

"Yes, how may I help you, sir?" Lady Une appeared as if by magic and pushed Relena away. "I am mistress here."

"By the order of the King, all females of beauty and of an age to be betroth to the Crown Prince are asked to attend the Gathering Ball held in honor of the Crown Prince Heero two nights hence." The man bowed and left. Relena had heard every word and seen the calculating glint in the Lady Une’s wife.

"A ball!" Dorothy crowed from behind. "With the Prince!"

Like vultures gathering, Relena thought scornfully, little realizing she herself was reflecting the same eager greed. "Well, why are you standing there, girl? You’ve got work to do!" the Lady Une cried sharply when she noticed Relena standing there.

A ball, she thought to herself as she drifted dreamily into the kitchen. A chance to meet Heero. But Une wouldn’t let her go, that was certain. But...she could sneak out. And she’d need a dress. All she had were old ones, out of fashion and ill fitting to show off her worldly beauty. What could she do?

Of course! She thought exultantly. Duo would know. Duo knew everything!

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