Author's Notes: I am just a wreck right now. I am just about ready to scream my head off, for these past few days have been clear hell to me! Augh. I wonder why professors like to bombard their students with all the necessary schoolwork only at the end of every semester. Augh. It's a good thing it'll be all over in three weeks! *chants* School Bad. Summer Vacation very pretty!

Anyways, I got the inspiration to write again after I spent a very satisfying morning reading Susan Zell and Mary Whimsey's season two of TOTSS. Never mind that I haven't seen a single episode of that show, but, whew… those two had me loving the Claire-Jack and the Lavinia-Colin romance! Now that is a very clear indication of how incredibly great those two are. Keep 'em coming, guys!

*clears throat* ahem, been distracted there for a while. Anyways, hope you'll read this one, and your feedback is the air I breathe. Remember, this is an AU story, meaning the characters are borrowed from their own world and tossed into mine. We all know how that always turns out *evil cackle* They've been doing that in the show, so I thought, why don't I try my hand at it? Hope it works! *crosses fingers*

Disclaimer: Nothing related to TLW belongs to me.

Behold the Façade

One

Murmurs filled the ballroom to the very brim. Speculations, gossips, theories were exchanged, not only by the women clad in royal garments and jewelry, but also by the men dignified by age and position in society. Young women sighed their sighs of disappointment; old women questioned the sheer sanity and audacity of the act. Only the men seemed to be undaunted by the fact that Lord Roxton, one of the most sought-after bachelors in the country, was to announce his engagement to a virtually unknown, inexistent woman that night. They thought themselves too busy to even consider such a trivial matter. No, the topic of their conversations, young and old men alike, was the impending war that loomed before them. But this matter was lost to the women, as they concerned themselves with the fact that Lord Roxton, one of the most sought-after bachelors in the country, was to announce his engagement to a virtually unknown, inexistent woman.

"Such mockery of the Duke and his daughters," One murmured to her circle of friends. "Didn't we all think that Lord Roxton was to ask the hand of Gretchen?"

"I heard," a second whispered, sending conspiratorial glances all around, "that Lord Roxton wasn't pleased with the way dear Gretchen had seemed to put on quite a lot of weight!"

Laughter filled the small group.

"What about Gertrude? Isn't she a more fitting bride to the Lord?"

"Yes, indeed. She definitely has the beauty that her sister sorely lacks."

"Gretchen's younger sister, Gertrude? She may be beautiful, but she's only fifteen, for heaven's sake! A child!"

"Despite Lord Roxton's exceptionally good looks," a third licked her lips devilishly, "he is absolutely too old for a little girl. I cannot and will not imagine that he can bed a child every night!"

"Hush, Isabelle!" A caution was aptly called. "You do not want to have the duchess or the duke hear a word you are saying!"

The group hurriedly dissipated as each one went along her way.

And yet the rumors did not abate.

"Have you ever seen this woman? This… this--"

"No, but I am assuming that she is not of our blood, judging from the fact that she has no name that she can boast to us. I have never even heard of the Roxtons mentioning her name in public!"

"Exactly! A definite rag doll that was lifted off the streets by the kind hands of Lord Roxton. A nobody! How ever did Lady Roxton approve of this?!"

"She must be insane! To let her son be tainted by the blood of a commoner?!"

"How dreadful!"

"Yes, how outrageous! If my son was to ever bring home a wretched thing like this… this woman… I don't know what I will do!"

"Oh, I am most definitely having a headache from thinking about what a mistake this could be, especially since Lord Roxton could have taken my daughter instead of some nameless face… Anton! Some wine, please, immediately!"

And soon this discussion, too, died down.

"Do we have enough men?" one queried as he took a sip of his wine.

"It's not a question of men as it is a question of ammunition and supplies." Another argued. "And I am very confident that we are in an exceptionally good condition. There is no need to worry."

"It is most comforting to hear that."

"But the war is coming… is it not?"

A long pause. "Yes. So let us all do what we can to save ourselves. And our country."

"God save us all."

"Ahem, ahem!" All the conversations in the ballroom died down as their attention was called by Lord Jerome Duncan, a good friend of Lord Roxton. He smiled as all eyes were focused on him. "It is such a great honor for me to be the one to give my friend this party, especially since I was beginning to think that this day will never come." A chorus of laughter filled the room. "I have had the privilege of knowing our beloved groom-to-be ever since we were both teething toddlers. I have seen him during his best, and also, during his worst. Believe me, I have never seen anything worse than a bumbling Lord Roxton!" More laughter filled the room. Jerome waited for the chuckles to subside before he continued. "I have also seen him in times when… well… his judgment is a little clouded by his emotions. This man is always at his best when his emotions ran high, and most definitely, he is at his best when he is in love. Ladies and gentlemen, I have never seen my friend quite like the way I am seeing him now. From the first time he had laid his eyes on his bride-to-be, he had seen true love. He has been given an opportunity that most of us could only dream of, and that is, to find our mate in this world. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Lord William Roxton, and the soon-to-become Lady Marguerite Roxton!"

* * * *

He stood in the shadows, watching, waiting as the expectant crowd listened to the speech. He nursed his glass of brandy silently, allowing the liquid inside to swirl before he took the bitter liquor to his mouth and drank all of it in a single gulp.

Finally, as the Lord appeared with his woman, he had the chance to stare at the man he hadn't seen for quite some time. How he had missed the young lord, but certain passions require that he be out of London for some time. He had been out of the radar of the high and mighty socialites of Europe, and this was one of those 'quirks' that he gladly traded for a life of hunting and gaming.

When he heard that William was getting married, there was no wasting a single breath for him. He had to get home, in the soonest time possible.

And here he was, looking at the Lord Roxton and his wife-to-be.

The crowd was silent as they looked upon the couple, as they were all surprised to see the woman for the very first time. She was intoxicatingly beautiful; curls of dark, luscious hair that hung past her shoulders and ended just above her enticing hips were allowed to roam free without anything to fasten it down. A bright, wide smile adorned her face as she scanned the crowd with her unusually large, grey eyes. She wore a dress that rivaled the best and the most expensive gown there is; layers upon layers of red silk and satin covered her slender frame, yet it only seemed to heighten her lush figure even more. The woman – whose name was Marguerite, based from Jerome's speech – looked at William, uncertainty clouding her face as the crowd still remained silent. William only smiled at her, took her gloved hands in between his, pulled her gently towards him and kissed her on the mouth.

Lord John Roxton had never seen anything so revolting in his entire life.

To be continued…