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A Claim by the Princess

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"Where did you get that?" Kaguya did not rip out Sumeragi's throat. It helped that she was completely unable to carry out her whims. Just a little. There it was, her emblem, wrapped snugly around his belt. As though she'd given him a favor. As though he had her favor.

He smiled at her, hollow and filled with amusement. "There aren't any guards outside your room just yet, princess." It was... useful.

She hated him.

. : . : . : .

Rin didn't struggle, when she finally leaned down to run her fingers along his neck. Dug her nails under the strap of his collar and pulled at it, only not mauling that scrap of leather because of the delicate flesh it encased. When it did come lose, she threw it into the wall with a resounding slap.

Rin flinched, and then stilled again. She tied the new one together much more carefully, the knot almost so small that she couldn't make it out. She wasn't sure that she could take it off again, if she ever needed to. The thought almost coaxed a smile from her, despite the concern harshening the corners of her mouth at how ill at ease Rin was. She wouldn't let him take the blame for this murder, of course. She'd ordered Utsuro to do it, and so it was hers to take responsibility for, as surely as he would wear her sign now.

A necklace dangled around her own neck, the back tied together by some string where she had pulled the clasp until it snapped. She'd done it in a fit of fury, of hunger, during a fruitless attempt to throw off her actual chains. Now it mirrored his. She liked the way her emblem looked on his neck, embroidered colorfully in silk. She couldn't change the mix of disgust and want that ran through her when she looked at Utsuro, but he was certainly good with cloth.

Utsuro had succeeded in his task and earned the right to be her servant. Even if he hadn't understood her and had murdered a noble bee. She knew how to make it work. She was clever and ruthless and everything the world had demanded she be to stay uncrushed by it. She wanted to keep her word, so when she returned to her room for paper and a pen, she also pulled one of her old handkerchiefs out of the dusty drawers.

When they were kids, Menou had handed her a handkerchief very much like this, claiming that she'd dropped it. It could be the same one, for all she knew.

She ignored her watering eyes. They dried quickly, soon enough that she could look without shame at her new servant and hold the handkerchief out to him.

At least this way it wasn't only Sumeragi with her emblem at his side as though he was her husband. The mere thought made her want to vomit. Watching Utsuro pinch the handkerchief delicately between his fingertips, eyes wide as if he was being blessed by a goddess... that didn't.

This was a start to her new life at her old home. Not a bad one, either, as far as things went.