Contest entry for Tsuabsacon 2010.

Mashiro, Aoi, and everything else from Mai Otome belong to Sunrise. I'm not claiming them or anything.


Aoi sighed for what was likely the tenth time that day. She had been standing outside the door to her mistress' room for twenty minutes, her polite knocking either going unnoticed or being completely ignored. This was a frequent occurrence to which Aoi was quite accustomed; however, it was still irritating. It was especially so as today was an important day.

"Mashiro-sama!" She knocked again, harder than before. Truthfully, it was more like she was pounding on the door now. "Mashiro-sama!" Silence reigned in the room beyond the door. Looking furtively up and down the hallway, Aoi quietly let herself in. The room's spaciousness was hidden in the shadows of closely drawn curtains. Frowning as she set aside the bundle of clothes, she crossed the room and jerked them apart, allowing the large windows to flood the room with light.

"Nngh!"

"Mashiro-sama, it's getting late." In the middle of the room stood a large four-post bed. Aoi approached it and stared down at the young girl wriggling around in the middle of it. Mashiro pulled her blanket over her head with a whine. "Did you finish with your bath?"

Mashiro peered over the edge of the blanket. "Of course, I did that hours ago. Mitsuki helped me, remember? Now, I want to take my nap. Go away," she snapped, pulling the blanket up again to block the maid from her sight.

"I've brought your things for the ceremony. Mashiro-sama, you really should be getting ready. The queen of Windbloom can hardly be late to her own coronation." Mashiro ignored her, poking one foot into the open and kicking it around to demonstrate her foul mood. She whined again.

This was getting ridiculous. She would never have said so out loud, but Aoi had been hoping that the gravity of the role she was about to take on would prompt Mashiro to act a little more mature; or at the very least get out of bed more quickly.

"Alright, fine." Aoi sighed (the eleventh time) and took a tight hold of the sheets. With a faint grunt of effort, she heaved them upward and dumped Mashiro on the floor in a thrashing pile of blankets and lavender hair.

Mashiro's black cat came waddling out from the pile and yowled at her indignantly. "Oh, go chase a dust bunny, you fat thing."

"Aoi, what are you doing? Tell me why you had to wake up so rudely!" Mashiro struggled to untangle herself and climbed to her feet so she could stare scathingly across the bed at Aoi, who smiled back cheerfully.

"You're up! I'm so glad!"

"Aoi!"

"Since you're awake, why don't we get ready for the ceremony?"

"Don't ignore me!" Mashiro's face turned pink and her lips pushed themselves into a pout. She didn't usually resort to such measures to get people to listen to her, but her cute face had been made for it. Flashing that expression to anyone else would have earned her another thirty minutes of wallowing around in bed. Fortunately Aoi had seen it too many times to give in. Still smiling, she bustled around the bed and past Mashiro. It might take a while to get ready to go and she was anxious to get started.

"I think we should start with your hair, don't you? We'll have to be careful when you get dressed, of course, but you'll be much more comfortable if you don't have to sit around in your clothes for an extra hour…"

"Hmph!" Aoi paused, refraining from breathing her twelfth sigh that day, and turned back to see Mashiro back on the bed. Her legs and arms were crossed stubbornly. For a long moment they stared at each other in silence, neither moving. Eventually Mashiro drew a deep breath through her nose and hmphed again. "There you go just deciding things like that without even asking me. I'm the queen now, Aoi! You're supposed to ask me what I would prefer, not just rudely assume things."

"Mashiro-sama…"

"…Yes?" She stuck her nose into the air smugly and ignored the deadpan look her maid was giving her.

"Which would you prefer," Aoi asked flatly. She already knew the answer and that Mashiro simply wanted to be asked her opinion. "Should I fix your hair before you dress or do you want to sit there in stuffy ceremonial clothes while I do it?"

"I'd rather have my hair done first, of course."

"Yes, Mashiro-sama." The girl grinned and bounced off the bed toward the other end of the room. An ornate dressing table stood nestled into a corner near the windows. Next to it stood a floor-length mirror and the door that led into Mashiro's large closet.

Aoi trailed after her mistress as she bounced into the chair of the dressing table. "I was thinking about it earlier and I think you should put it up somehow. I think that would look more elegant, don't you? Aoi, what do you think?"

"Well, it would be more elegant." Aoi picked up a dainty comb and took her usual place behind Mashiro, gently beginning to pull it through the ends of her pale hair. Mashiro's eyes followed her movement in the mirror on the table top. "Perhaps, if we put most of it up and a leave a little down in the front it would look even better?"

Mashiro's eyes lit up and she smiled at herself in the mirror. She was probably envisioning herself as the elegant Queen Mashiro Blan de Windbloom and the thought made Aoi smile as well. "Oh, do that!"

They fell into a companionable silence as Aoi continued to brush the tangles from the younger girl's hair. From the corner of her eye she watched Mashiro's green eyes as they wandered from one reflected part of the room to another. She was lost in thought and not really seeing any of it.

When she was satisfied, Aoi exchanged the comb for a handful of hair pins and carefully began to sweep sections of Mashiro's hair up onto the back of her head. She secured it so that the ends poked outward in a graceful swirl. "There. I think that will do, don't you?" She looked back to the mirror to see Mashiro's reflection. The girl was looking rather troubled and her eyes stared unseeing at the tabletop before her. "What's wrong? Mashiro-sama?"

She blinked and lifted her gaze to Aoi's worried face. "Hm?"

"What's wrong?" Aoi asked again, more insistently. For a moment Mashiro stared at her before she furrowed her brow.

"What are you talking about? Nothing's wrong. Are you done yet?"

"Mashiro-sama." The girl's eyes widened a little, surprised by the stern tone with which she was being addressed. Her gaze dropped and slid to the right, away from Aoi. "What's bothering you?"

"…I was just thinking."

"What were you thinking about?" Mashiro didn't answer. Although she was a very outspoken girl, as the princess of Windbloom she had been raised that way; however, she was not particularly open when it came to things that worried her. Aoi had been her personal maid long enough to know this and to recognize that she was bothered. She expected that eventually Mashiro would voice whatever concern was weighing on her mind, and so she waited.

"Aoi?" The maid smiled encouragingly as Mashiro's eyes rose again to her face. "Do you…remember the last queen of Windbloom?"

"What?" What an unexpected question! It caught Aoi a little off guard. Mashiro didn't seem to notice.

"The last queen. Before me? I was thinking about it and I wonder…what kind of queen was she? Was she good? Did everyone like her?"

"Well…I was really young, so I don't remember her very well."

"Oh." Mashiro's face fell a little in disappointment.

"But I do remember my mother liked her. She always talked about how lively she was and then tried to pretend that she didn't approve of her. I guess the queen was a little unladylike sometimes."

"Really?" Mashiro crossed her arms and hummed quietly to herself in thought. "…Even with that, she was a good queen, right?"

"Oh…I suppose so."

"Aoi?"

"Yes?" Mashiro opened her mouth and shut it again, apparently stuck on what she wanted to say. She twisted her hands together in her lap.

"Do you think I'll be a good queen?" Aoi wasn't sure what to say to that. Her first thought was that she should be comforting, but she didn't want to lie. To her, Mashiro seemed much too young to taking on the role of queen. She was a fourteen-year-old girl, and she should be left to worry about normal things, not diplomacy or tip-toeing through international relations.

Perhaps Aoi's feelings on this were a little biased. She had been Mashiro's primary maid for the past four years and had come to know her quite well. She knew how difficult and stubborn she could be and while it was good that Mashiro was strong-willed, there was the possibility that that bull-headedness could be taken too far. Mashiro had also been granted nearly everything she had ever asked for with no consideration of how it affected others. She had very little awareness of the needs of other people.

When no answer came from Aoi, Mashiro stood and turned to face her, the tendrils of hair around her face swaying with the movement. "Well?" she asked expectantly, her voice quiet. She looked a little worried.

Aoi also knew that Mashiro was intelligent. She learned quickly and could usually apply what she learned well. With time, she could would learn how to take care of the people of Windbloom, even if the start was somewhat rocky. It was with that thought in mind that Aoi smiled down at her. "I think you'll be a great queen, Mashiro-sama…someday."

The worry melted from the young girl's face and hardened into irritation. "Someday? I'm not talking about someday, I'm talking about today!" She planted her fists on her hips, her volume rising. "What, you don't think I'm going to be good at this? Is that it!"

"I don't believe that's what I said." Aoi stifled the giggle that threatened to burst from her mouth.

"What do you mean, then?"

"Nothing really. Are you ready to get dressed?" Mashiro stood glaring at her for a moment more before sighing herself. She knew that Aoi changing the subject meant she would get nothing else out of her.

"I suppose. Get my things." She turned and moved to admire herself in the floor-length mirror, trying to get a good look at the back of her head. Aoi smiled and trotted toward the door, where she had left the clothes she'd brought. As she went, she heard Mashiro mumbled to herself and chuckle in satisfaction. "...Wonderful, huh?"


Well, this is my first venture into this section! I don't know if I'll have anymore, though. Anyway, comments, thoughts and everything else are appreciated! Please tell me what you think! ^_^