This was a drabble written by request for Anria, who gave me the line “Please don’t try to dress yourself again!” to work with.
The timeline for this isn’t important, except that Merry is present, and the pairing, as always, is Riff/Cain, however subtle it may be.
Ha, I feel like I work in subtleties only…
A Queerly Wrapped Present
By Elf Asato
On one crisp, autumn morning, Riff did not get up before the crack of dawn to attend to his master and his household. He did not direct the maids in their business and make sure the footman actually got up at the right time. And this all was quite alright, because they were, surprisingly, his master’s orders.
The night before, Cain had decreed the following morning to be special; it was Riff’s birthday.
Now, the details as to how Cain knew this were rather sketchy because Riff had never actually told him, but while Cain claimed it was because he just knew, a little snooping around in Riff’s belongings was closer to the truth.
So Riff rather enjoyed it when he was able to sleep in on his own accord. And when he finally did wake up, he dressed in his usual business attire and made his way into the commons to see how the house was fairing.
Not too well, it seemed.
“Just…step inside the dining room and kitchen, sir, and take a look,” said Elizabeth, an incredibly harried maid that morning, in response to her superior’s inquiries on the state of the house.
Riff went to the dining room first and was welcoming eagerly by Cain and his darling sister, each wishing him a wonderful birthday rather competitively. “Oh, Riff, Riff, please sit down!” Merry began excitedly as the butler obeyed. “We baked you a cake – all by ourselves!”
Somehow, that very fact alarmed Riff and he wondered about the state of the kitchen, as Elizabeth had warned. Then Riff noticed something that made him wonder even more.
“Ah…sir?” he asked. “Your buttoning seems to be rather…off.” And it was true; the buttons on Cain’s vest were in the wrong places, causing one half of the fabric to be higher than the other. “Sir, also…your shirt seems to be inside out…and are your shoes on the wrong feet? …Who on earth dressed you, Master Cain?”
Merryweather giggled as her brother replied rather indignantly, “I did!”
“In the future, sir,” Riff said as he tried to stifle a chuckle at his master’s expense, “please do not try to dress yourself again!”
Cain flushed a little and quickly changed the subject. “Wouldn’t you like to try the cake and see what gifts we bought for you?”
“While I would like some cake,” the butler began as the young mistress dashed off to fetch the gifts, “I certainly must say that you undressing yourself would have been the better present. Because now I have to undo what you did, right?”
“You talk as if it’s a bad thing.”
“Well, it is when I actually have to concentrate on what mess you’ve made out of your clothing for once. …Sir,” Riff replied with a wry smile.
Cain crossed his arms and replied in almost a huff, “I can undress myself, as well, Riff.”
“Just like you dressed yourself, sir?”
A slightly frustrated growl slipped from Cain’s lips as he added with resolution, “I’ll do it, just you watch!”
“Indeed I shall.”
There was a moment of silence between the two before they broke out into smiles and laughed a little. “I’m sorry I’m an incompetent dresser,” Cain half-heartedly apologized and leaned over to kiss his butler’s cheek.
“I quite like your incompetence.”
There was that silence again before Cain spoke seriously, “Do you think that…this thing we have…will ever become a problem?”
It was Riff’s birthday,, though, and he preferred not to think of such realities until tomorrow. Instead, he asked, “What flavor is the cake?”
And then Merry returned.