InChrist-BilliosThank you for finding my error in here. I've fixed it now, and thanks again!

The Ball

I stepped out of the carriage. "Midnight," I told the driver. He nodded in acknowledgement and pulled away. I stood there and look up at the palace in awe. It was huge! You don't have time to stand around! I told myself.

Inside, a paige stepped away from the side and said, "Come, mistress, the ball is this way." He led me down a hall lined with portraits of dead monarchs that had ruled the kingdom. Finally, the sound of voices came to my ear.

"Here it is." The page motioned to a curtain. He pulled it back and a stairway appeared. "Right down there," he told me. "Enjoy your night."

I was standing around when a gentleman appeared at my side. "You look quite lonely," he said, bowing.

I curtsied back. "I am quite lonely," I admitted.

"Pray tell, what is your name?"

I hesitated. I wasn't sure if I should use my real name. "Bella," I said. It's not like anyone will find out, I told myself.

"Bella?" he repeated. "Such a beautiful name. I am Prince Dominic. Please, call me Dominic… or Dom would be better. I get uncomfortable when people treat me too formally."

"O-oh!" I said, surprised. "I didn't know-"

"Please, the whole formality thing?" he reminded me. "It's alright. May I have the pleasure of this dance?"

I smiled under my mask. "I would love that."

While dancing, we passed Cinderella and Mala. I was happy I wore a mask. "Those two," Dom murmured quietly to me, "won't leave me alone! They continue to talk about the other guests, degrading them on what they might be wearing, saying that they are not fit to attend my ball if their outfit is out of style."

I nodded. "Personally," I said, "there is no such thing as out of style or in style. It's just… your style."

"My, my, my, such wisdom you have." He grinned.

"No, it's not my own wisdom. It is but an old woman's great wisdom."

"Your grandmother's?" he asked curiously.

Might as well be.

I blushed. "No, our cook, actually."

He laughed. "I see."

The rest of the night was magical. Dom claimed me as his dancing partner for a majority of the night, occasionally dancing with other girls to be polite to his guests. We had so much in common. Our taste in literature was as matched as two paintings done by stencils. Soon I was telling him of my mother and sisters (downplaying it just a tad for their sakes) and, assuming he would immediately leave because I was not of noble standing. Instead, he sympathized with me. In turn, he told me of his boredom in the castle with nothing but studies and training to be king, without a true friend or young soul to keep him company. He was nearly as friendless as I was!

The clock struck eleven-thirty during one of the dances. "Oh dear," I murmured. I didn't want to leave already! The night was far too magical to be possible.

"What's wrong?" Dom asked worriedly.

"I've got to leave at midnight," I replied sadly in a half whisper.

"Won't you stay?" he asked pleadingly. I could see it in his deep brown eyes. "At least delay for a few minutes?"

I looked him in the eyes and smiled. "Perhaps I'll try."

"Splendid!"

The clock struck midnight.

The king rose from the royal pedestal. "My son, Prince Dominic, shall now announce his bride," he bellowed.

Dominic stepped up after his father had been seated back on the throne. "It has been a hard decision," he said. "I have met so many fine ladies tonight," he glanced in my direction ever so slightly, making my heart and stomach do an odd acrobatic show, "but I have made my decision."

The whole room held its breath, waiting for his decision. Time seemed to stand still, moving just about as fast as a boulder.

"Bella!"

I gasped. This was my dream come true! I had come to the ball for the mere reason of attending it. I had no desire to seek out the prince.

Dom jumped down from the throne pedestal and ran to me. He looked into my eyes and said, "I don't even know what you look like." He slowly reached behind my head and untied my mask. I could hear my mother and sisters squeal in indignation.

I lifted my eyelids and looked at him. Our eyes locked and connected, only breaking when he moved to kneel on his knees. "Bella," he whispered, once again making my heart soar.

"Dom," I whispered back.

"Bella," he repeated, "will you honor me with the privilege of having your hand in marriage?"

By then, I was crying out of happiness. "Oh yes!"

He stood up and embraced me, picked me up and swirled me around, and kissed me.

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I graciously gave my family a place in the palace. They scrubbed, dusted, and swept every nook and cranny, just as they had me do under their iron hand. Except now they had Katya, the stern housekeeper, to answer to.

I ended up having a happy life.

Why me, you ask? He said that every girl in that room only thought of themselves, clothes, and getting themselves the crown. There were some girls who had their life planned out as queen already.

He said I was the most honest person he'd ever met.

And so, as every fairy tale ends, 'They live happily ever after. The End.'