"How can I just stand idly by to watch her toy with my heart?"
"Good morning, Princess."
Vishnal watches quietly as her eyes flutter open. His heart skips as her lips spread into a sleepy grin, but he just smiles in return. She yawns loudly, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"Good morning, Vishnal!" She stumbles out of bed and plops down in front of the vanity. He produces a brush and starts running its teeth down her silky hair. In a rather strange way the muffled scratching sounds from the brush comforts him. Frey leans her head forward as she hums a familiar tune.
"I want a braid today," she says.
"A-ah? But-but I cannot-" He begins to protest when she gives him a little pout. Did it suddenly get hot in here? He mutters something incoherent, but nevertheless finishes a skimpy braid. His face blanches when she sighs upon seeing it.
"Actually, nevermind. Now I want to go eat something."
Vishnal forces a still smile as he follows her out the castle. Frey twirls around, greeting the townsfolk as they pass. "Uh... Princess!" he squeaks.
"I c-can cook something for you instead! I tried very hard this time!" He had started wearing gloves to hide the careless burn marks. She won't notice anyhow. But the look she gives him makes his heart squirm rather uneasily. Like smirk halted by a forced smile.
"Um... that's okay! Dylas says he'll cook something good for me." Frey flashes an apologetic laugh. "Let's go! Or it'll get cold."
The Diner's smell hits him before he even entered the door. Through the window he sees Porcoline and his family bustling around the kitchen. Frey hands him a grocery list, telling him to be careful. He watches silently as she hurries in, to where she throws herself into Dylas's arms. Without a second glance he turns away.
Noon casts a cloudless sky overhead. Vishnal peaks through his bags to see Frey standing outside the Diner. She sees him and smiles. His heart pounds as he breaks into a run. "Princess!"
"Vishnal! You got the things?" Frey glances through the groceries. "All right! You got all the vegetables and pasta!"
Excitement courses through his hands. "I can cook spaghetti for-"
"Dylas will be so happy!" It's as if something punched him squarely in the chest. Vishnal gapes as Dylas appears by her side, eyes widening at the bounty of carrots in the bag.
"Good work, Vishnal," he says stoically. The butler nods slowly as the other relieves him of his groceries. "We're cooking spaghetti for dinner..." Then Dylas's face reddens. "There's gonna be leftovers... and we don't them to go to waste."
Frey smiles. "Hehe. I'll be sure to come by! Right, Vishnal?"
He just looks away. "Of course."
When the sky begins turning pink, Frey stops. After hours of following her around to carry her items, Vishnal feels as though his arms would break off. "I want to buy some flowers," she says, twirling her fingers shyly.
"I'll come with you," he says quietly. Frey giggles, and they head to the Flower Shop. Though he'd been there many times, Vishnal is still amazed at the variety of flowers available. Such fragile things, yet they withstand human touch for many years.
So while Frey looks through a section, he does his own searching as well. His eyes settle on a white tulip with translucent petals. Though setting her items down was not easy, he'd manage to make room for that flower. Frey comes out too, with a dainty daisy in her hands.
"Vishnal. I'm going back to the Diner," she tells him. "Can you take the things back to my room?"
"Y...yes. Is that flower for Dylas too?" The words catch in his throat, but Frey did not seem to notice.
With mention of his name she blushes. Vishnal feels his lips struggling to form a smile. "Yeah. I think the yellow really matches his eyes. We're going to have spaghetti! I can't wait-"
"Princess." Vishnal's tone is flat. Frey only furrows her brow at this sudden seriousness.
"What's wrong? You're acting weird."
"...Have fun." He laughs, although it sounds empty to his ears. "I'll wait for you back home."
Her face brightens. "Of course!" Then he hands her the flower. Frey accepts it, but still looks quite confused. "Um... Vishnal? When did you-"
"Dylas likes tulips too." He bows respectfully. "I hope you two have a splendid time." The Princess blinks, but her bright grin returns. Vishnal watches as she hurries down the street until her mishappen braid disappears.
Frey returns as the moon rises, but he only had time to clean her room before she collapses on the bed. Soon her soft snores echo through the dark room. She must've had fun, judging from the sauce stains on her clothes. He chuckles to himself as he goes to tuck her in.
Something catches his eyes: a lush, beautifully-woven braid next to her temples. His eyes harden. There is no deformed braid. He begins to reach out, to pull the braid from her hair with his scarred hands but hesitates.
"Princess," he whispers to the moon, "being your butler is hard. Harder than I'd thought. I didn't mean to fall for you, but I know you don't regard me the same way I do with you. If this braid makes you happy... if he makes you happy... then I guess... I'm happy too." He quietly pulls the covers over her chest. A snot bubble puffs from her nose. For the first time in a while he smiles-a genuine smile.
"I'll keep trying to make you happy, Frey. That's the duty of a butler..." These words have etched into his memory, but now feels alien to his tongue. His duty is to oversee her and make sure she's happy. Nothing more. To not interfere in her life if she didn't want him.
Sometimes he'd wished it would be different.