It was the start of another ordinary day in the Hanaukyo household—at least, as ordinary as life in a grand mansion full of gorgeous maids could be. A loud knocking jolted Taro out of his sleep and he sat up, swearing quietly. Monday. School. After a busy Sunday of martial arts training, swimming lessons, running, and homework, he wanted to sleep until at least noon—but the knocking kept on.
"All right, I'm awake, I'm awake," he muttered, hurrying into his school clothes and picking his bag from the floor.
Knock-knock. More insistent this time.
"Keep your hair on! I'm up!" Taro said irritably as he flung the bedroom door open, but immediately regretted his harsh tone. There she stood—Mariel, looking absolutely stunning as always.
"I-I'm sorry," she said quickly, looking away. "I-I just didn't want you to be late for school."
"It's fine. I didn't mean to shout," Taro apologized, and Mariel smiled back.
She's so kind…and so beautiful, Taro thought. I wonder how she'd react if I asked her out? Finally? It would be amazing if she accepted…
He paused in his thoughts. Then again, she might not—and things would be too weird around here.
"Oh, sorry. I'm still a bit sleepy."
Taro was relieved when Mariel seemed to buy his white lie. She laughed.
"Well, I'm sure some breakfast will perk you up. Cynthia made it this time."
Taro sat down to a huge plate of food. He protested at first, until Cynthia asked him if he wanted her dismissed. Any refusal made the maids of the Hanaukyo household think they weren't needed, and even though Taro had felt guilty about that at first, he realized they liked being busy and carrying out their roles. He pushed through eggs, bacon, muffins, and strawberry pancakes without protesting. Well, at least he could work off that bloated feeling on his walk to school.
That was the one thing Taro insisted on doing, with a compromise that he'd let the security team follow him—discreetly, of course. It was amusing seeing Konoe dressed in everyday clothes, so she wouldn't be conspicuous. She looked much less like the household's top security agent when she was in a casual dress and sandals. Only her face lent an air of authority and protectiveness now.
"Hey, Taro-san!" Harou shouted as Taro approached the building. "Hey, whatever happened to that girl—Mariel, is it?—who works at your grandpa's mansion?"
"She's doing well. Why do you ask? I have a lot of maids working for me," Taro said, averting his eyes.
"I was just wondering because you acted so weird around her when we ran into her at the sports shop last week," Harou said.
Taro pretended to be studying his class schedule as they came to the lockers, but Harou grinned knowingly at him. For being such an oddball, Harou was very intuitive. Taro tried to act casual, but he sent his math textbook crashing to the floor as he fumbled for school supplies and then forgot his locker combination. He could hear his friend snickering, and when he looked up, Harou was grinning even more widely.
"Do you like her?"
"Ah…" Taro said stupidly.
"You like her. Why don't you ask her out?"
"Well…she's…ah…well, I'm her boss!" Taro spluttered.
"That's not it. You like her," Harou smiled triumphantly.
Fortunately, at that moment, the bell for first period rang. Taro sprinted to his least favorite class (mathematics) with alacrity, eager to get away from his friend's well-intended but prodding questions. He was almost glad to see Mr. Hino, even though he was called upon several times to solve problems. Surprisingly, he got most of them right. Maybe Ikuyochi's tough drilling was paying off, after all. Taro forgot about Harou's grilling—until lunch.
"So," Harou demanded as soon as Taro sat across from him in the cafeteria. "When are you going to ask Mariel out?"
"I don't like her that much," Taro said unconvincingly. "She's a sweet and pretty girl, that's all."
"I know you're lying. You want to ask her out, but you're too scared."
He paused casually and pretended to think about his next words, as if he hadn't been rehearsing them through science class (his inattention earning him a scolding from Ms. Hino, the teacher).
"It's just as well. She seems like a great girl. Very spunky and sweet. I don't think you have a chance with her. You're just too quiet and wishy-washy. She won't think you're serious. Better to just love her from afar and not have all that messy rejection."
With that, Harou finally got to work on his lunch.
Taro fumed over Harou's words through the rest of his classes.
"When was the League of Nations formed?" his history teacher asked. "Hanaukyo?"
"Isosceles triangle!" Taro blurted, thinking of his math class.
"Are you trying to be funny, Hanaukyo?"
"No, Mr. Omori, sir. It-it was formed in…1919."
Mr. Omori looked as if he knew it was a lucky guess but turned his attention to the rest of the class, who'd been giggling at Taro's slip-up, silencing them immediately.
The end of the school day couldn't come fast enough—especially when he was lobbed in the head by a volleyball in PE class, his mind still on Harou's words. Wishy-washy? Too scared! He'd show Harou! He was going to march right into the mansion and ask Mariel on a date. He was done being scared. Just wait until he told Harou that he'd done it!
"Taro?" Harou called out as Taro hurried down the stairs, away from the school. "Taaaro?"
Taro ignored him, but Harou didn't care. He grinned, hoping his plan would work.
After Taro had gotten out of eyesight of anyone from school, Konoe fell into step next to him. This unusual; she always followed at a discreet distance until now. He eyed her narrowly as she began to speak.
"What's with Harou? Why did you ignore him? He didn't do something to you, did he? If he did, I'll have the entire security force on him."
"No, he was just being a big blowhard today," Taro lied.
Konoe shrugged and fell back. She suspected something was up, but there was no evidence as to something serious or harmful happening to her boss, so she let it go. Taro, meanwhile, could not let go of Harou's words. He stewed over them until he got to the mansion—and who should open the door but Mariel, a welcoming smile on her face, her blue eyes that matched her hair shining. Come on, Taro, ask her out. Don't be a wimp…
"MARIEL, I LOVE YOU AND I'D REALLY LIKE YOU TO GO OUT WITH ME! IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME A CHANCE I'LL DIE!"
Mariel's jaw dropped and Konoe tried to choke back an unprofessional laugh but failed. Muffled gasps and giggles from the house told Taro that he'd been heard by more than just Mariel and Konoe. Embarrassed at how forward and loud he'd been—and, worse of all, how desperate he'd sounded—Taro did the only thing that would get his mind off the situation.
Later that day…
"Taro? Taro, can you hear us?"
Taro felt as if he was swimming through murky water. He could see shapes vaguely like people and hear voices but not words. His eyelids felt heavy; it was a struggle just keeping them open. He knew he had to respond so whoever it was wouldn't be worried.
Wake up. Wake up, he willed himself and at last the image swam into focus. He was in a sterile-looking room, and Konoe was looking down at him, her mask of impassive authority replaced by a rare look of worry and compassion. Standing by her was a doctor.
"Taro, this is Dr. Otani," Konoe explained in a strained voice.
"You had a bit of an accident, Taro," Dr. Otani said calmly. "You can go home in a few hours after we've observed you a little longer. No, don't sit up. You got a concussion, but it's not very severe. Still, better to play it safe."
Dr. Otani walked away, leaving Taro alone with Konoe.
"Taro, I was so worried!" Konoe burst out. "You hit the ground really hard and you were barely breathing—I was terrified even when the ambulance came, and the paramedics came and started working on you…thank whatever powers be that it's not worse!"
For a moment Taro wondered if his brain had been affected, after all. Konoe was practically going to pieces, her voice shaking, tears in her eyes, her steely air of command all but vanished. She, too, seemed uncomfortable, for she lowered her head and stared at the ground.
"So…what happened?" Taro ventured.
"Don't you remember? But of course, you wouldn't," Konoe began. "You ran up to Mariel-san and were shouting that you love her. And then you fainted."
At this she started snickering, abandoning all the professionalism her position as head security officer entailed.
"Stop…" Taro protested as the memory came back to him.
"I know I shouldn't laugh, Taro, but…that look on your face when you were talking to Mariel! You looked like you were confessing a crime to a tyrant, like you might get a death sentence. Well, you did tell her you'd die if she didn't go out with you. You're so dramatic!"
"I am not," Taro muttered.
"Sorry," Konoe apologized. "I didn't realize you felt that way about Mariel, but if you were an outsider, you would've laughed, too. I've never seen anyone ask a girl out that way before."
"Did…she say anything?" Taro ventured. "I wonder if she'd go out with me," he continued, surprised that he was opening up to Konoe, of all people.
There was an awkward pause and Taro's head began to hurt.
"Er—you know she goes to night school on Mondays and Thursdays, right?" Konoe said. It wasn't a question; Taro knew. But there was something he didn't know.
"She's seeing someone from night school. I—we—thought you would have noticed. It's all the girls have been giggling about for a week."
Taro searching his aching head for a memory.
"The aspiring chef? I heard some of the girls giggling—something about 'she says he's cute and a good cook. Lucky!' Darn! Why didn't I think that Mariel might be dating someone?"
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with telling a girl you like her, even if she is dating someone. You're just telling her how you feel. And there's always a chance things could change! You're a great guy, Taro, and I'm not just telling you that because you're my boss and head of the Hanaukyo estate. Don't give up, just see how things work out from here!"
"Wow, I feel better already! Hey, would you please call Harou?"
"Of course, but…why?"
"He told me I would never be brave enough to say all that to Mariel," Taro said triumphantly.
"What, you want me to tell him you were so terrified of rejection that you blurted out your feelings to the entire household and then passed out?"
Konoe's face had split into a grin and she was laughing shamelessly.
"Oh, go boil your head," Toro grumbled.
A/N: I just got into Hanauyko Maid Team and so I don't know everything about the series and characters, but I really love this manga and wanted to write a fic! If there are any errors, out of character moments, or inconsistencies, they are purely coincidental! This is also my first fic based on a manga or comic strip and it was a nice challenge!