Author's Note: You all are just way too awesome! Thank you so much for all the positive reviews on this and the two other one-shots about these idiots. I adore them and all of you, for sharing in my mild obsession. Looks like next time I owe you all a ball! Yikes!
Doug headed through the main building towards the dormitory Evie and Mal shared. He tugged on his bow tie, making sure it was centered as he walked.
This was it. He was finally going to ask her. Nothing was going to interrupt him this time.
He played over Ben's words in his head, turning sideways to avoid the students rolling a giant snow globe down the hall.
Doug had been talking to Evie, hoping to work up the courage to sneak in his invitation to the ball, when, much to his chagrin, the King had pulled him aside to give him a pep talk.
"Just be honest and clear." Ben told him as they sat on a concrete bench in a shadowed alcove of the garden. "It's no secret that she already likes you. You guys hang out all the time"
Doug flushed crimson, and tugged at this cufflinks. "Yeah… as friends," he clarified awkwardly.
Dopey's son sighed, "I mean, maybe. Sometimes, I think she might, but…how do I ask so that it's clearly a date?" Doug dropped his head, his hands falling to his sides, and sighed again. "Besides, how can I be good enough for her?"
Ben smiled at his childhood friend. "Just be yourself. You're a good guy. Just be good to her."
Doug's head snapped up, "Well, of course!" He said, running a hand through his hair so it stood pointing in various directions. "Who wouldn't be?"
Ben's smile faded slightly.
"Oh," Doug nodded his head, "Right."
A long second passed while both boys were quiet.
Finally, Ben said, "Look, you're over thinking this. You want her to be your date to the Winter Ball right?"
"Yes," Doug said genuinely. "So much."
"Then just ask." The King stood, and placed a heavy hand on Doug's shoulder. "And be sure it's clear it's a date."
"Easy for you to say," Ben muttered as he approached Evie and Mal's door.
He paused outside, uncertain if he'd imagined the muffled yell on the other side. Then, taking a deep breath, Doug knocked.
Evie replaced the empty spool on her sewing machine and clicked it into place. Pressing on the foot pedal to ease the thread further along, she straightened the fabric of her newest dress, and continued stitching the pieces together.
Her mind wandered as she sat at the machine, and she sighed heavily, shaking out the next piece she would attach.
Maybe Doug really doesn't want to go to the ball with me, she thought miserably. Still, this thought, and many others like it, didn't stop her from continuing the work on her fifth, or was it sixth, Winter Ball dress.
She shrugged, lining up the next seam of fabrics, each piece a soft powder blue.
Evie had felt so sure that he would ask. Yet, the ball was now only a week away, and Doug still hadn't invited her to go with him.
"Just tell him you're going together," Mal had told her a few nights prior as she lay flipping through her spell book on Evie's bed. "It's not like he's proposing."
Evie, who was hand stitching at her desk, threw a bundle of unfinished fabric at Mal. "No! It's not nearly as romantic if I just say we're going together." Evie put down her stitching and sighed. "Besides, I want to know that he wants to go. And go with me."
Mal rolled her eyes and rolled over, holding the spell book above her to keep reading.
"Then I guess you'll have to wait."
Evie groaned back in the present and stood up from the sewing machine. She didn't want to wait. She wanted to be sure. Evie stepped over some scattered ribbons and collapsed backwards onto her bed, sinking morosely into the comforter and feeling entirely uncomforted.
She was so sure he'd been close to asking her. But, whenever the topic seemed to come up, they managed to be interrupted. That time near the Tourney field just before Doug was struck with a stray arrow and Jay had to carry him to the hospital wing. And in the courtyard that day he had given her an apple and Mal scared him off. And then after Queen Aurora's garden party, when Ben had appeared, saying it was very important, and stolen Doug away.
Evie grabbed one of her pillows and smothered her face with it as she groaned.
Huffing, she threw the pillow across the room and sat up, just as someone knocked on her door.
She brushed back her hair with a hand and called, "Who is it?"
"Evie? It's me. Doug." Evie's heart plummeted, and she quickly and quietly ran to her mirror. "Do you have a minute?"
"Just a second," Evie called, forcing a laugh, as she brushed her hair back and checked her teeth for lipstick. Then she scurried to her desk, arranged her skirt delicately, and picked up the the fabric she had been hand stitching last night.
"Come in," she called, the perfect picture of calm.
Doug opened the door and stepped into the room.
"Hi Doug!" Evie said brightly, putting down her work.
"Hey, Evie," Doug walked towards her work station, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "Am I interrupting you?"
"Oh no, this old thing?" Evie stood and picked up the fabric she'd just put down. "I mean, I'm always working on something." She smiled. "What's up?"
Evie walked the few steps to her bed and perched on the comforter daintily, offering Doug her desk chair with a wave.
"Oh, nothing… important." Doug evaded, stepping over boxes of thread and ribbon as he sat down at her desk. "I just thought I'd say hi. I was…nearby."
Doug wasn't sure, but he thought she sounded disappointed.
"So, what are you working on?" Doug asked her quickly, feeling more and more like Pinocchio when he was turning into that donkey.
"Oh!" Evie said, her enthusiasm returning. She laid out the rich velvet-like fabric she'd been working on for him to see. "It's a capelet. I'm making it out of this fabulous fabric I found at the dress maker's in town. It's softer than crushed velvet, but much warmer. It's for Mal's Winter Ball gown."
Doug's eyes went tight, but Evie continued, her gaze on the fabric, and sighed romantically. "She's going to look like a queen."
"Um, Evie…" Doug scooted his chair closer to where Evie sat on the bed.
She turned her focus back to him, the glow from discussing design fading.
"About the ball."
Evie eyes grew wide and she pursed her lips, trying not to smile.
"Do you… Are you going?"
Doug cursed himself for being a coward as Evie's lips turned into a small frown.
"Um, well, maybe. I'm not sure."
"Oh…hasn't anybody asked you?" Doug winced as soon as the sentence was out. Donkey ears and a tail would be sprouting from him any moment now.
Why am I such an idiot?
Evie twisted her hands together a moment and then put them down. "Oh, well. Yes. I guess I have."
"Oh?" Doug immediately felt awful, and avoided her eyes, instead looking at the delicate hands in her lap.
"But I turned them down."
Doug looked up at her then, hope filling his chest.
Maybe Ben was right.
He took one of her hands, holding it gently in both of his.
"Evie… would you like to go with—"
The door was immediately slammed open, revealing a disgruntled Mal, hands laden with a tray of muffins, blowing a thick lock of hair from her face.
"I swear, you agree to one bake sale," Mal kicked the door closed behind her, "and then every club in town is suddenly your very best friend." Mal huffed angrily, stepping further into room, too busy rolling her eyes to notice the moment she'd just interrupted. "It's like they don't realize I have a life outside of the kitchen! Just because I enjoy…" Mal went very suddenly silent, taking in the scene before her.
Doug had Evie's hand cupped in his, an awful blush threatening to melt his skin away. Evie on the other hand had eyes that had foregone daggers and were shooting maces and morningstars of fury at her magenta-haired roommate.
A long second of silence followed before Doug hopped up in a flurry of apologies and panic.
"I'm sorry! I should— Evie, I— I have to— Gonna just—"
His words were tripping over themselves, his voice cracking as he moved toward the door.
Mal, however, could clearly see the threat of bodily harm in Evie's stare and stepped directly in the path of Doug's intended escape.
"Nope! Here! Doug." She said, forcing as much brightness into her tone as she could muster, "Just… wanted to bring these up for you guys. Have fun!" She turned and ripped open the door, throwing a quick "Toodles!" over her shoulder.
She shut the door behind her, and collapsed against it , only to jump at the broad form that materialized before her.
"Don't sneak up on me like that!" Mal whispered angrily.
"Did you just say toodles?" Ben asked, already laughing.
Mal grimaced but put a finger to her lips. Quietly, she responded, "Don't start with me, King-y boy. Doug is in there right now, and if I interrupted him asking her to the ball again, I'm going to be in an evil stew by nightfall."
Ben's raised his eyebrows and then looked at the door.
"Now, be quiet." Mal whispered sternly, and pressed an ear to the solid wood.
Ben chuckled, and Mal almost turned to hush him again, except the King had secured his arms on either side of her, and was pressing his ear against the door just above her head.
Mal fought the urge to flush at his closeness, and focused her attentions back inside.
The moments after Mal had left the dorm room were palpably awkward. Evie was watching Doug who was staring intently at the tray of muffins Mal had forced into his hands. As the seconds ticked by, Evie almost started wishing Doug had been able to escape. It would have been less painful than waiting for him to say something, anything.
Maybe finish his sentence, she thought hopefully.
Another silent moment passed, and Evie decided to put him out of his misery. She sighed softly and stood, opening her mouth to break the awkwardness when Doug put down the tray of muffins with a sharp clank and turned to her.
Evie stared at him in confused surprise.
"Evie," he said more slowly, placing a hand to his rapidly beating heart. "Would you… would you like to go to the Winter Ball?" He paused a moment, wincing as he continued, "With me." Ben's words rang in his ear. "As my date."
Evie didn't say anything for a moment, her expression unchanged, and Doug wondered if Ben had been wrong after all.
Then Evie smiled.
It was… It was sunrise. It was starlight. It was the most beautiful thing Doug was sure he had ever seen or would see. It made his heart stutter and stop a thousand times in an instant.
"I thought you' never ask," she told him.
Evie opened her mouth to say more when outside the door there came a muffled, "Yes! He did it!"
And then Mal's voice. "Finally."
A small yelp, and an overly loud whisper, "Don't pinch me!"
Then, "You can't pinch a King."
And, "I can if he pinched me first."
A small scuffle ensued, something banged against the door and then, "Wait, wait, did she answer yet?"
The pair inside the room watched the door as silence descended.
Doug had turned bright red and was torn between amusement and mortification, while Evie had a hand to her lips containing her giggles.
She laughed softly once, before clearing her throat, and looked at Doug again. He had given into amusement, and while still flushed, was smiling.
She smiled back.
"I'd love to."