Sakura observed the beautiful flowers in the garden. The Japanese was trying to calm her nerves after the strange meeting which had taken place an hour ago. The young woman had met the official master of the mansion and was not proud of the result of that encounter. The cause for such thinking was her behaviour towards the involved persons (mostly Mr Kirkland). "He will think very little of me," she whispered, watching the bushes swinging with the winds movement. Nature was a true cure for her nerves, but Sakura knew that she needed to return inside in order to be properly introduced to the Landlord by a third party.
The looking glass was reflecting Arthur's scowling visage. "Why in God's name did you wait so long before informing me of this?"
Alfred cleared his throat, "Pardon me, but I forgot." He rubbed his neck.
"How can you forget such important information?"
As the English Gentlemen watched his cousin's nervous stance, he inquired an immediate explanation.
"Well, you see," The American's eyes focused on the door, "I was dishonest about the duration of their stay." He waited for any reaction of his cousin, but decided to continue. "They have no other choice but stay a little longer."
"For what cause? Because of the trading company, Mr Wang plans to establish?"
"Yes and he has expressed the wish to give his niece a chance for a new live."
"His niece? You mean to tell me that Miss Honda is not only his goddaughter but his relative? What does he expect her to do here?"
"She is orphaned and he has great hopes for her," he exclaimed, although his face held a hint of sadness. He and his sister had lost their mother in a very early age, which forced their father in a restless situation. The older man started gambling, leaving nothing of the heritage, their mother had left for them. Alfred had always been told that she was a gentleman's daughter. After all, the elegant woman was Arthur's aunt and raised them to behave as agreeable as a man should. The older Mr Jones was a tradesman, but fell into depression after his wife was gone. To say that he and his father had an amiable relationship was an understatement. After Alfred's father died years ago, he had inherited the bankrupted trading company. Due to his ambitious spirit and his cousin's connection, the company had start anew in a better light. That was the reason why the American had visited China, to make new connections and treaties to expand the company's influence.
"Oh," The Englishman murmured, "I was not aware of her fate." He had not realised that she had lost her parents. Arthur had been certain that she was only travelling with her Godfather. "So, Mr Yang wants her to have a fulfilled future in England. But as a woman, that is only achievable if she marries someone with a good fortune."
"And that, dear cousin, is the reason why we are going to help. We will teach her the formalities of attending balls and show her the English culture," Alfred expressed, "Although it will also be important to teach her of American culture as well."
"Oh how charming. I don't believe Miss Honda will be interested in American culture," Arthur mocked, feeling unnerved by this notion. Of course this expression was uttered to challenge his cousin. The two had always have discussions on what country – USA or United Kingdom – was the best.
"Maybe I will take it to heart to marry her. Our acquaintance is agreeable and I have a good fortune," Alfred jested but did not realise that his cousin's facial expressions had changed. Before the latter could reveal his disapproval of Alfred's declaration, a knock on the door interrupted them.
"Sir, tea will be served in an instant."
Alfred opened the door, revealing the servant who waited patiently for them.
"Age before beauty," the American suggested to Arthur; motioning him to leave the chamber. "If that is your indication of American culture, than Miss Honda will certainly decline your offer of marriage."
Alfred smiled, "One does not know if one does not ask her."
Sakura was already seated in the drawing room next to Marguerite as the Gentlemen entered. Her legs pushed her up and she curtsied instantly. The woman was aware of some of the English etiquette and knew how to behave in front of members of the Gentry. Although the American's occupation was not considered aristocratic, she held great respect for him and decided to treat him just like she would in the presence of any other member of Royalty.
"Oh no need to act so formally around me, Miss Honda," Alfred affirmed, before taking her hand to place a kiss on her gloved hand, "but if you insist, I will act as a gentleman."
Sakura, being surprised of this indication, blushed but smiled nonetheless. "There is no need Sir, you have behaved like a gentleman since we met."
Arthur was tapping his foot against the floor. During their conversation, they had not given him any attention and witnessing Alfred behaving like this was unnerving him greatly. If it had not been for the presence of their guests, he would have expressed an inappropriate comment. Mr Wang observed them too, but his visage showed no disapproval thought.
"Oh before I forget." Alfred took Sakura's hand and walked towards his cousin. "I officially introduce you to the master of the house, Mr Arthur Kirkland." He then introduced Arthur to Sakura.
"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Honda."
"The pleasure is all mine, Mr Kirkland," Sakura spoke softly, while he held her hand and gazed into her eyes. The embarrassing occurrence from hours ago was still in the back of her head. The present persons classified her as a composed female while on the inside the woman's emotions expressed a great uncertainty.
As the party was served with tea and a great atmosphere, Arthur tried to strike a conversation with Sakura. He seated himself next to her and began with questions considering her interest in England. As she explained herself that her uncle had always expressed his wish of visiting the country and that she was excited when she arrived at the English docks. While the Japanese talked with a calm voice and a joyful glint in her eyes, Arthur could not deny that her incredible sweet but quiet nature attracted him in a certain way. Sakura spoke about the English books she had read, the artists she admired, as well as her love for painting itself.
She reasoned not to talk about her ability to fight with a katana. It was uncommon for a woman in Europe to be able to battle, but Sakura's father had taught her those technics. He had been a low-ranked Samurai and wanted his daughter to achieve those skills. It was the only remaining memory of him.
Arthur was charmed by all her stories (and manner to present herself). "What a fascinating Lady you are, Miss Honda."
Her cheeks coloured, "O-oh, but Mr Kirkland, I am no Lady, only a simple girl." Mr Wang eyes his niece with a proud smile while he was exchange words with Alfred.
Hours passed and Arthur decided to present her the idea of teaching her the formalities and etiquette in English society in order to attend balls (except for the London Season). As he and Alfred had already planned to carry that plan out. Yao Wang was not objecting the idea (being the one who had suggested it to his new friends). The only one who was not aware of this idea was Sakura herself and upon hearing the suggestion, she did not know what to think of it.
"I-I beg your pardon," she answered, her eyes widened while her uncle's smile grew. He had hoped that his American friend would help him after he had confided his worries for his niece to Alfred. "Yes, my dear, it would be delightful to stay here longer and grow familiar with the English customs," Mr Yang smiled, taking Sakura's hands. "Would it not?"
"Of course, my sister would like to assist," Alfred stated, watching his twin sister who in return felt sorry for Sakura. All eyes were on the Japanese and to not express any signs of impoliteness, she agreed. Her eyes met Arthur's and the unsettled feeling of not fulfilling his expectations, took control over her body. She thought that the two had been joyful engaged in the conversation and had started a great friendship; but this new occasion could break that bound. At first she was aware of her unladylike behaviour at the beginning of their meeting and supported the idea of not burdening the English gentleman. But now she would depend on him to achieve the goal of dressing and behaving like a Lady with the purpose of finding a rich husband. She knew that her Godfather could not support her if she did not entertain the idea of matrimony.
Arthur on the other hand was excited about the idea of teaching her some European and English costumes, such as dancing. For him, she already had the elegance, speech and look of an accomplished woman but he reminded himself of the information Alfred had given him. Her uncle wanted her to be as agreeable as possible – even though for Arthur, she had already fulfilled those expectations – in order to increase her chances of a fortunate marriage. "But we will begin with the teaching in a few days. I assure you that you can rest as much as you wish to," Arthur acknowledged, "I –"
The interruption was precipitated due to the knocking on the door. It was the servant who once again expressed an apology for disrupting the party. "I do apologise, Sir, but the cook has questions considering your choice of food."
"How about she makes something great for supper?" Alfred suggested, excited to wait for dinnertime. "Oh, Miss Honda you actually never met her before, our cook."
"No, I did not."
Alfred, without inquiring further, took her by the hand and led her by the kitchen door. "I will introduce you to all members of the house stuff and I am certain the cook will be a delightful companion and friend." Normally guests would not be interested in such activities, but Sakura had expressed that wish to Alfred on her first day in Hertfordshire. He knocked on the door, before shouting the cook's name. "Elizabeta?"
She answered the door immediately, her long brown hair in a bun, her green eyes focusing on the American before she averted her gaze towards the petite woman next to him. "This is Miss Honda; Miss Honda, this is Elizabeta Héderváry. She started her occupation months a few ago."
Sakura now knew why he wanted her to meet Elizabeta. The woman expressed a strong, beautiful and gentle aura; her green eyes watching her with a friendly gaze. "Miss Honda," she said calmly as she curtsied. "O-Oh no, please there is not need to curtsy for me," Sakura mentioned, "It is nice to meet you."
Elizabeta was considered an 'upper' servant; her cooking skills were highly appreciated in the Kirkland household (comparing it to a certain English cooking skills, hers were considered a gift from God). Despite her young age of 20, her ability in the kitchen proved to wrong everyone who would claim that young and inexperienced females could not cook well. She was very proud of her dishes. After seeing Sakura for the first time, she understood why Alfred introduced her to the Japanese. The girl had a sweet nature, but shy and quiet. Although she was in the presence of the upper class men, Elizabeta knew that Sakura would be a very good friend. After spending some days in the manor, the Japanese had always thought of who could have prepared her dishes; for her the meals were splendid.
"I must express a compliment for your cooking skill, Miss Héderváry."
Elizabeta smiled, "I am very happy that you appreciate my food, Miss Honda."
After meeting one of the main house maids, Sakura was introduced to several other members of the house stuff.
[A/N:I try to make the historical facts as accurate as possible (although the mansion Greenstoke is of course pure fiction :'D). I love to write misunderstandings (especially with this pairing) xD. Thank you for the alerts, fave and reviews :D]
Replies to the Reviews:
Pink Dolphin: Thank you :D It will be more interesting in future chapters :3. Nyo Japan is so precious :D. Those pairings are my OTPs :3. I hoped I will catch their characters in those roles :3. I am not a native English speaker myself, so I don't know if I do mistakes (sometimes yes because they are obvious, but mostly I don't notice them). I write the story without betareader but I will revise the first chapter again :O.
Guest: Yey :D The world needs more Asasaku :D
Maiden0015: Thank you :D. I love this era :3 and I thought this pairing would fit well with the setting :D