Alois got onto his tippy-toes and reached and reached and reached for the thick book on the top shelf. He could see the text printed on the spine from here: Children's and Household Tales, written by some Grimm people.
“You said these were fairytales, right?” Alois asked, looking over his shoulder. “Claude?”
Smiling, Alois turned back to the bookshelf and kept reaching. He was surprised when Claude came up behind him and retrieved the book for him, but he reminded himself that Claude was his demon and butler and they had that contract and these things were to be expected. It was early into their contract, so his new life as Alois Trancy—not Jim Macken!—was still feeling surreal and soft around the edges.
He didn’t say thank you, though. He was a little too jaded to thank anyone for anything anymore.
“Which one are you going to read me this time, Claude?” Alois snatched the book out of Claude’s hands and skipped back over to his bed. The sheets were purple and white now, not blood red, because Claude had transformed the colors for him using some fucking amazing demon magic. “Look at the table of contents! It’s so long!”
Claude took the book back from Alois, who pouted and wanted to make a scene but decided to get into bed anyway.
“Which one would you like to hear, Your Highness?”
“Just pick one,” Alois said with a sigh. He didn’t want to sleep, but he had some busy day tomorrow, apparently, and Claude wasn’t going to let him play hide-and-seek until dawn again. “I don’t give a fuck.”
Claude stared at him.
Making decisions like this was a lot harder than Alois thought it would be. He didn’t want to tell Claude what to do, but he knew he was supposed to—demon and butler, contract, what was expected.
Alois looked around the room for some inspiration. “Something… that involves gold, I guess?”
The pages fluttered open near-silently, like flapping butterfly wings. Claude found a story that matched Alois’ criteria within seconds, and so he read it aloud as part of their nighttime ritual. The story was called The Golden Key, and it was about a poor boy that had to go out and fetch wood on a sled in the dead of winter. He was frozen to the bone afterward, so he decided he should try to build a fire to warm up before heading back home. While scraping around in the snow for some tinder, he found a tiny golden key.
(“And the key must fit in a lock somewhere, right?” Alois asked excitedly. He got invested in every fairytale, and this one was no different.)
The boy wanted to find the lock that the key belonged to, so he dug around some more until he uncovered a tiny iron chest.
(“Did he open it?” Alois exclaimed. “What was in the chest, Claude?!”)
The boy had trouble finding the keyhole, but he eventually did. It was so small, it could scarcely be seen.
(Alois grabbed his own hair, because the suspense was killing him.)
He tried the key, and the key fit, and…
(“And what’s inside?! Is it—something good? Like a fairy? A fairy that got trapped in there? Or is it something bad? Like, what if it’s a fucking flesh-eating scarab?!”)
Claude adjusted his glasses and read, “’Then he turned the key once, and now we must wait until he has finished unlocking it and has opened the lid. Then we shall find out what kind of wonderful things there were in the little chest.’”
“That is how it ends, Your Highness.”
“What?” Alois let go of his hair and glared. “You fucking liar. Let me see that!”
He grabbed the book out of Claude’s hands and turned it around. He furiously read The Golden Key over again, and discovered it really was an extremely short story. It ended just how Claude said it did, too.
“I don’t get it,” Alois said, frowning. “So what’s inside the chest, Claude? Is it a fairy? Gold? Jewels? A flesh-eating scarab? Hope, like with Pandora? Someone’s eye? A cut thumb? A mirror? A lock of hair? Medicine? Blood? A tiny moon? What? What is inside the chest?! Tell me, Claude!”
Claude gently took the book away from Alois, who was starting to look traumatized, and shut it.
“Nothing,” Claude said. “There was nothing inside the chest.”
Claude lit a new candle for Alois and set it on his bedside table. This one would last the night to keep the darkness at bay. “Good night, Your Highness.”
And Alois’ next decision was so easy—
“Claude, wait! Stay with me!”
Links: Alois’ activity log from day one of playing him: http://justsocruel.livejournal.com/559.
From that, threads worth pointing out:
Alois looks at new official art: http://community.livejournal.com/
Alois receives a V-Gift: http://community.livejournal.com/
Alois reacts to Claude’s almost-betrayal in episode 7: http://community.livejournal.com/
Alois reacts to Claude killing him in episode 8: http://community.livejournal.com/
Because AMVs are still awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
The song I had on repeat while writing this application: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=