My Fair Lady
By Queenie Z
A/N: Whew, finally! This is my first real romance for the ToS section. Yay. Anyway, there's not really much to say about this one, other than I'm actually quite proud of it myself. So, anyway, enjoy!
Lloyd walked into the recreational hall, attempting to smooth back a strand of hair that had normally hung loosely on his forehead. His normal red jacket gone, he wore a sparkling new white suit. Instead of his white ribbon that had hung from his collar, two red, leather tails rested on his back. To the common eye, he would have looked extremely sharp for a 17 year old boy.
But to himself, he was the biggest idiot in Tethe'alla right now.
After deciding to give up with his hair, Lloyd stepped up to the front desk, his shoes clacking on the marble floor.
"I'm not late, am I?" he asked the receptionist.
The older man adjusted his glasses and saw Lloyd. "Is your name on the guest list?"
"Uhh. . . yeah. Lloyd Irving."
The receptionist adjusted his glasses again, this time to read the guest list before him. After a moment, he sat the list down and looked at Lloyd again.
"I'm sorry, sir, but it appears that your name is not on our list."
Lloyd frowned. "There has to be some mistake. . . Can I see that list?"
Slowly, the man handed over the list to Lloyd. Taking it, he scanned down the list once - indeed, his name had not appeared on either column. Then he read it over again. This time, he saw the word "Bud" written in fancy lettering near the top.
"That 'Bud' would be me," he said, handing the list back to the receptionist and reminding himself to have a word with Zelos later.
"Ah yes, Sir Bud," said the old man, putting the list away. "You are the last to arrive, I'm afraid. But fear not, the party has just gotten underway."
"Thanks," said 'Sir Bud' before he walked over to the giant doors and opened them.
Behind them stood the ballroom - a glamorous sight, especially to one who had lived all of his life in the declining world of Sylvarant. A giant glass chandelier dangled from the ceiling, its candlelight flickering on the velvet curtains draped across the walls. Tables with finger foods and punches of all kinds lined the floor, and various couples danced together near the end of the room.
In fact, the thing that took Lloyd in the most was not the trimmings, trappings, or the dancing couples, but the food. Shrimp cocktails, finger sandwiches, and various other foodstuffs of the higher class filled the room. Without hesitation, Lloyd skipped the nastier stuff, like the caviar and the escargot, and headed over to the shrimp.
"Just because it's "all you can eat" doesn't mean you can eat it all."
After stuffing a few shrimp in his mouth, Lloyd turned around to see his best friend Genis, garbed in fancy clothes as well.
"I never said I was gonna eat it all," said Lloyd, swallowing his food.
Genis shook his head. "You say that, but sooner or later you'll have eaten the entire plate!"
"Fine then," said an annoyed Lloyd, grabbing a few more shrimp, "this'll be the last of them."
"Whatever you say, Lloyd," Genis said before he turned to walk away. As he strode over to the other side of the room, he slipped on a dropped finger sandwich in the middle of the dance floor, startling nearby dancers as he fell face first to the ground. Seeing this, Lloyd was about to go over and help his friend back up, but someone else had already beaten him to it.
"Genis. . . are you all right?"
Genis looked up and turned a bright red. "P. . .Presea?" he hurriedly picked himself up and rubbed his forehead. "I. . . I'm fine. . . thanks!"
Presea looked at Genis' head, checking for injuries. "No injuries sighted. I'm. . . glad."
The little boy's face almost glowed. "Wow. . . th. . .th. . .thanks!"
The partygoers resumed their merry dancing as Lloyd smiled from his table, half relieved, half amused at Genis' little crush on Presea. Then he heard laughter coming from the table next to him. Looking over, he saw Zelos, his hair in a neat braid and wearing a black-and-white gentlemen's' suit. Crowded around him were, of course, various noble ladies from Meltokio, each listening closely to what the Chosen had to say.
". . .So I'm traveling with this group, ya know?" he said, taking another drink of his punch. "Sylvarant's Chosen and all her friends. And there's this one kid who's got the funkiest hair I've ever seen in my life!"
The girls laughed again. One even started kissing Zelos on the neck.
"No no no, hunny, not until after the story, okay?" He rubbed the girl on the back of her head and continued, "I'm serious, it's like it can defy the laws of gravity or something!"
"Hey, I heard that!" said Lloyd angrily as he walked over to the clique.
"Oh, look, ladies," said Zelos with a smirk on his face, "there he comes!"
The group giggled as Lloyd finished pushing his way through the crowd.
"Hey, Lloyd," Zelos said, taking another drink, "how does your hair do that anyway?"
Lloyd frowned and flushed. "Ancient dwarven secret. . ." he growled, "pretty boy." This prompted a few more giggles and "aww"s from the women.
"It looks like he's jealous because he's not as pretty as Master Zelos!"
"But he's just so cute!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Time out, my darlin' hunnies!" interrupted Zelos. "Lloyd here's my bud! See?" The Chosen left his little gathering and put his hand on Lloyd's shoulder. "We're buds."
The young swordsman yanked Zelos' gloved hand off of his shoulder. "Don't touch me!" he snapped. "Leave me alone and chat with your 'hunnies', why don't you?"
"How dare you speak to Master Zelos that way?" cried a woman in a silk purple dress.
Shooting a glare in their direction, Lloyd stormed away from the group. Zelos raised a hand to stop him, but decided against it.
"Won't do a bit of good," he muttered to himself, feeling a bit guilty for what he had done.
Slipping through the bundles of people at the party, Lloyd noticed that Sheena and Raine were conversing with each other to his right. He decided that it would be better to talk to them than with Zelos, so he wandered over to the punch table, where they were.
"Can you believe that stupid Chosen?" said Sheena, obviously exasperated. "There he goes again, off wooing every single girl he meets."
Raine sighed and adjusted her fake spectacles. Why the designers had given them to her, she didn't know, but went with it anyway. She wore a more modest outfit, which emulated a university professor's uniform. (After all, she was the professor.) "I have to admit, he is rather. . . flirtatious. . ."
Sheena scoffed. "You don't know the half of it." She motioned to her outfit, which was a not-quite-so-modest dress which exposed her shoulders, stomach, and most of her back. "I bet that pervert had the tailor make this thing just for me!"
"I certainly wouldn't be surprised," replied Raine. She turned to see her student standing next to them. "Oh, hello, Lloyd. Are you having a nice time?"
"I guess. . ." said Lloyd uncertainly.
Sheena let out a small yelp as she tried to cover herself. "Ahh. . . d. . . don't look at me, Lloyd!"
Lloyd looked at her, puzzled. "Why not? You having a bad hair day or something?"
"N. . .no!" she stammered. "I. . . I look like a skank in this thing! Don't look at me!"
Lloyd smiled. "Hey, don't worry, Sheena! I think you look great!"
The professor chuckled. "Honestly, Sheena. Lloyd doesn't think that way."
"Think what way, Professor?" asked Lloyd.
". . .You'll figure it out when you're older."
Lloyd seemed perfectly content with this answer.
Sheena sighed with relief. "I guess you're right." She reached over to another table and grabbed an escargot. Suddenly, she looked up and saw a familiar face near the caviar.
"Oh, hey, Regal!" she said.
"Hello, Sheena," replied Regal as he scooped some caviar onto his plate (surprisingly smoothly for one who was bound by his hands), "Raine, Lloyd."
Lloyd raised an eyebrow at his friend's choice of food. "What is that stuff, Regal?"
"Caviar, Lloyd," he replied, "fish eggs."
Lloyd winced. "Fish eggs?"
"It's an acquired taste," said Regal, popping a few into his mouth.
A shocked Lloyd honestly thought he was going to be sick. Chicken eggs, he could handle, but fish eggs?
"Lloyd," said Raine gently, "does his eating bother you?"
"No. . . no, I'm good," said Lloyd. But then she saw Sheena putting some escargot on her own plate and wretched. "Are those snails?" he asked.
Sheena turned to him and nodded. "Uh huh."
Lloyd's eye twitched. How are they actually eating those things?
". . .Uhh. . ." he said, looking for a good excuse to leave. "You guys seen Colette anywhere?"
Regal nodded and said, "I believe I saw her on the balcony not too long ago."
"Okay! Thanks, guys!" said Lloyd hurriedly before he nearly ran off, leaving his friends to eat their fish eggs and snails alone.
Lloyd climbed the elegant red staircase leading up to the balcony. He tried his best to keep his mind off of the subject, but he couldn't stop thinking about how utterly disgusting fish eggs and snails seemed. He overcame his urge to vomit on the spot by taking deep breaths and attempting to think about happy things, such as steak, ice cream, pancakes. . .
However, a quick glimpse beyond the balcony's open doors caught his attention. Standing there, overlooking the rest of the party, was Colette, wearing a small red and white dress and her hair in a braid behind her. Hearing footsteps, she span around quickly and beamed.
"Hi, Lloyd!" she said. "I'm so glad you came up here."
Lloyd smiled. "Yeah, I didn't see you downstairs, so I came to look for you."
"Yeah," replied Colette, "I couldn't find you either, so I came up here to look for you down there."
"Huh. . ."
Lloyd stepped next to her and leaned on the balcony's railing. He looked upon the diners, dancers, and Zelos' growing group of women by the window and sighed.
"Something wrong, Lloyd?"
Lloyd shook his head. "No, it's just that. . . this party isn't really any fun."
The young Chosen nodded in agreement. "Yeah. It isn't anything like the parties we had in Iselia."
Her friend grinned and looked at her. "Like the Fall Festival we had last year?"
"Yeah! That was a lot of fun!" giggled Colette. "You and me and Genis all hid in the haystack while we ate all the cookies the mayor's wife made!" She looked down slightly and added, "The professor wasn't too happy with us, though."
"But they were good, right?"
"Uh-huh!" answered Colette, happily.
"Heh heh. . ." A slow, steady waltz began to play as the partygoers below stepped almost perfectly in time with the rhythm. The two watched as the women's dresses swayed and the men's trimmings and accessories gleamed in the light. Lloyd yawned.
"This is getting boring. . ." he said, "want to sneak out?"
Without hesitation, Colette answered, "Okay!" before they walked down the ornate stairs and out of the door, unbeknownst to the rest of the guests.
Lloyd and Colette stepped outside and onto the cobblestone road. Leaving the lavish decorations and the sounds of merry laughter and slow music behind them, they ventured into the streets of the imperial city. The surrounding buildings had a slight orange tint to them, cast by the slowly setting sun. As they walked together, Colette turned to her friend.
"I'm glad we could make it out of there, Lloyd," she said.
"Me too." Lloyd tugged at his outfit a bit and added, "So stuffy in there. . .and this suit bugs me, too."
Colette giggled. "I think you look good in it!"
"You think so?"
"Uh huh! I've never really seen you wear white until now. It suits you."
Lloyd flashed an embarrassed grin. "Heh heh, thanks." He glanced at Colette and noticed that she somehow looked different from when they were inside. Her face and hair seemed to glow in the sunlight, and her dress swayed to and fro with each step she took. He thought. . .that she was beautiful.
"Uh, I think you look good, too!" said Lloyd, his face taking on its own red tint.
"Thank you!" beamed the young girl before she got an idea. "Hey, Lloyd, what kind of dance were they doing in there?"
Lloyd, a little surprised by her sudden inquiry, shrugged and replied, "I have no idea. I think I heard someone call it a waltz. . ."
Colette stopped and said excitedly, "It looks like fun! Let's try it!"
The spiky-headed swordsman stopped dead in his tracks. "Huh? Us, try dancing?"
"Yeah!" Colette grabbed Lloyd by the arm. "Come on, it'll be fun!"
"Um. . .okay. . ." said Lloyd unsurely. "How do we do it?"
The blonde Chosen looked puzzled. "I don't know. . ." she said, "but I think it involved walking back and forth a lot."
"Oh, okay," said Lloyd. So they tried stepping back and forth together - back and forth, back and forth, when suddenly. . .
"Oof!" cried Colette as she tripped backwards. Picking herself up, she flushed a little before taking Lloyd's hands again.
"Whoops! Sorry!" she giggled.
"It's okay. Don't apologize."
"Oh yeah, sorry."
Deciding not to keep this conversation going, Lloyd sighed and tried to step forward. However, Colette had also decided to step forward at the same time.
"Ow!" said the two when their foreheads collided. Realizing what he had done, Lloyd panicked.
"Colette!" he said, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
"No," said Colette, both with a smile and while rubbing her head, "it was my fault. I'm sorry."
"No, I. . ." Lloyd figured that, once again, any attempts at taking the blame would be futile. The two teens made a third attempt to waltz, but after a while, Lloyd spoke again.
"Colette, I don't think we're doing this right. . ."
Colette looked thoughtful and replied, "Me either." She placed her hand on his shoulder. "I think I saw those ladies in there do this."
Lloyd's cheeks flushed as he found himself staring straight into Colette's face. She wore the same smile she almost always wore, and her eyes were as blue as ever. He hesitantly placed his hand on the small of her back. "So that means I have to do this, right?"
"I guess," said Colette, her own cheeks getting warm.
They stepped again, back and forth, back and forth. Their shoes clacked rhythmically on the stone road as they shared their slow dance. Lloyd, feeling strangely relaxed, didn't want his dance to end anytime soon. He closed his eyes and felt the rhythm of their movement take him over. Then, he felt the warmth of Colette's head on his shoulder. . .
. . .just before they both plummeted to the ground.
With a yelp, Colette nearly landed face-first on the stony path. However, Lloyd was able to break her fall, allowing himself to take the hit instead. After a split second of uncertainty, the two found themselves unharmed - and in each other's arms.
"You. . .you okay, Colette?" asked Lloyd.
Colette just smiled. "Yeah! I'm fine. Thanks, Lloyd." She picked herself up again and brushed off her dress. She then helped Lloyd get up, who had fallen flat on his back. Once they were both standing, Lloyd scratched the back of his head.
"I think we've had enough dancing for today. . ." he said.
". . .Yeah," agreed Colette, "but it was fun, wasn't it?"
The boy stayed silent as he walked over to a nearby fountain. Colette followed his lead and they both sat down on its edge. The clear water inside of it made rippled distortions of their reflections as they silently basked in each other's company. Finally, Colette broke the silence with a question.
"Do you think they'll find us out here, Lloyd?"
Lloyd turned and looked at her. "I don't know. . . why?"
The girl looked down at her feet. "I. . . I don't want them to find us. I want to spend this time with you."
Unable to think of anything to say to her, Lloyd just stared at her with his mouth open, vaguely resembling a fish. What was there to say at a time like this? Slightly disturbed by the silence, Colette spoke again.
"Um. . . if that's all right with you, of course."
Lloyd swallowed and said, "Of course it's fine!" Noticing his voice cracking, he took a deep breath, momentarily assuaging his panic, and added, "Actually, I like it better out here, just the two of us."
"Really?" asked Colette, surprised.
Colette sighed, flushed yet content. Suddenly she noticed that the evening sun had almost completely set, leaving behind a darkened sky - and a single star, which shone brilliantly even against the city lights. She tugged at Lloyd's arm and pointed to it.
"Lloyd, look!" she said, "It's the evening star!"
Lloyd looked at the white dot and replied, "Hey, you're right."
"Let's make a wish on it, okay?"
". . .Yeah, okay," said the brunette before he saw Colette close her eyes and clasp her hands together. Then he gazed at the evening star with a wish in his heart. After a moment of silence, the girl spoke again.
"What did you wish for, Lloyd?" she asked, her usual cheerfulness gracing her voice.
Lloyd smiled. "Hey, if I tell you, it won't come true!"
"Really? I've told people my wishes before and they've come true. . ."
"Huh. . . well, okay," he said, taking a deep breath. "I wished that, someday, when this is all over, our new world will have no discrimination or war, that no one would have to become a sacrifice. . . and. . ."
Unable to look his friend in the eye, Lloyd looked down instead. ". . .and that the two of us would be able to live in it. Together."
There was an awkward silence as Lloyd continued to stare at the ground and wince. Did he actually say that? Desperate for a way to end his embarrassment, he shut is eyes tightly and asked, "So. . . er, what did you wish for, Colette?"
Slowly, he opened his eyes and, to his amazement, saw Colette smiling at him. It wasn't like the normal smile she had, either - this time, she looked as if not only her face, but her heart was smiling as well.
". . .I wished. . ." she started, "that whatever you wished for would come true!"
Lloyd was taken aback by her statement. "W. . .why?"
"Because," answered Colette, "right now, all I really want is for you to be happy, Lloyd."
"Colette. . . I. . ." Once again, the boy was lost for words. This caused Colette to look slightly worried.
"Is something wrong?"
Lloyd shook his head. "No, it's just. . . I'll be fine, as long as you're with me."
The young girl's eyes widened. "Lloyd. . ." She took her arms and wrapped them tightly around Lloyd's shoulders. Then she lifted her face to his and gave him a peck on the cheek.
Lloyd's face turned a deeper shade of red than most people had ever seen. Finally, he fully comprehended what had just happened to him, but wasn't able to say a word. However, he didn't need to say anything.
"Lloyd. . . thank you so much," said Colette, squeezing him tighter. "Nothing would make me happier than being with you."
Recovering from the shock, all embarrassment and fear left him as he reassured her, "Okay, then. . . for the rest of our lives, I'll stay with you. I promise."
Colette let go of him and nodded. Wiping a tear from her eye, she sniffled and said, "Me, too. I promise."
Suddenly, Lloyd grinned. Then, he began to laugh. Feeling lighter than air, he stood up, grabbed Colette, lifted her into the air, spun her around, and sat her feet down on the ground again. The two laughed until they could no longer stand it, when Lloyd suggested, "Let's go back to the party. . . and let everyone know about our promise!"
Colette agreed happily, and they ran, hand in hand, back to the dinner hall.
Raine sighed as she watched her pupils' joyful embrace. Young love. . . she had seen it happen many times over, and even experienced a few herself. However, Sheena's voice interrupted her meditations.
"They make such a good couple, don't you think?"
The professor looked at Sheena and smiled. "Indeed. . . I was worried that they might never tell each other."
"Oh, you didn't have to worry, my gorgeous beauty!" chimed Zelos, his hand on Raine's shoulder. "They were head over heels, it's not like they were gonna ignore that forever!"
Raine rolled her eyes at the Chosen's "nickname" for her. However, Genis soon yanked Zelos away form his sister and glared at him.
"If I recall correctly," he said, "you were the one who said he would chicken out!" The boy held out his hand and motioned for cash. "Come on, fifty gald, like you promised."
Zelos growled and reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a small bag. He placed it in Genis' hand, muttering under his breath, "You tell Lloyd about this, I swear I'm gonna -"
". . .You made a bet with Genis?" asked a powerful voice. It belonged to Regal, who had seen their little "transaction" take place.
"Uh. . . no! I was just. . . Look!" he pointed out over the balcony they were standing on and immediately fled.
"Zelos Wilder, you should know better than to gamble with children!" cried Raine before pursuing him inside. "Get back here!"
Genis, proud of his monetary gain, pocketed the gald happily and left to talk to Presea. This left Sheena and Regal alone on the balcony.
"Well, at least two of us are having a good time," said Sheena, glancing at the two young lovers below them.
"Indeed," agreed Regal, "and I wish them both the best."
Sheena nodded as the two took one last look at Lloyd and Colette before they disappeared underneath the balcony, eager to tell the others about the promise they had made. Little did they know that the others had been watching them the whole time.