A/n- Latest idea I had swimming around in my head.

Disclaimer: I don't own JatD

Summary: A year has passed, and once again it is time for the annual Ball. No excuses this time, Jane has to go, and her mother insists she dresses the part. Unexpectedly, the Princess falls ill and needs her mother; the Queen cannot attend the party. Who then, will be the couple to ceremoniously begin the night's festivities, if not the King and his wife?


Your Partner


It was evening, and the stars were just beginning to twinkle out from amidst the swathing blanket that was early sunset.

Jane and her four friends sat round their usual table by the Kitchens, thinking wistfully of the festivities that would take place in just a few short hours.

"I'm so glad your going this time, Jane!" Pepper sat down in a flurry next to Rake, "It will be so nice to have another girl there!"

Jane smiled, "Pepper, there are others girls there who come up from the town." The Kitchen maid waved off her comment as Jester leaned forward.

"Why are you attending the Ball, Jane? I thought you hated it!"

The redhead grimaced, "I promised my mother.

"That didn't stop you last year."

Jane slouched in her seat, "I broke a promise last year, and that's not very noble, is it Jester? If I'm going to be a knight I better act like one. I made a promise. Dress and all, I have got to go."

Pepper let out a wistful sigh, "I can't wait to see the Queen! Her dresses are always so beautiful!" Despite herself, Jane inwardly agreed. "Her and the King always dance so beautifully!"

"Yes," agreed Jester, "They do make a fine pair, dancing the first dance of the night."

The precious silence that ensued lasted for the briefest of moments…

"Jane? Oh, Jane!" They all looked around to see a woman leaning out of a window in the tower.

The girl in question grumbled.

"Yes mother?" She called back as sweetly as she could.

"You need to come get ready for the Ball! Hurry to your room, dear!"

Jane sighed, Pepper giving her one long look, "I'll see you guys later."

"Good luck!" Smithy called after her.

Jane rolled her eyes, stomping off.

.o.o.o.

"So, you prance around, all frilly-like," Dragon flapped his wings and pretended to do a little jig, "all night?"

"More or less."

Dragon rested his great big head on the windowsill, watching as Jane turned this way and that in front of the figure length mirror against the wall of her room.

Did everything her mother bought for her involve frills?

"It's a nice color, Jane. Blue suits your hair, don't you think?" Her mother was sitting on her bed, a comb in her hand. "Not just any blue either, dear, orchid blue."

Dragon snickered. "Hear that Jane? Orchid blue."

The girl shot him a warning glare.

"Come Jane, let me brush your hair. Just this once."

"No, mother. I already did it myself."

The woman's lips formed a thin line, "You never get all the tangles out, you silly girl." At her daughters' expression, however, her tone lightened considerably. "But, I suppose your hair is a little consolation for forcing you to come this year."

Jane managed a smile, a true smile. Her mother got up from her seat, the gold threads on her own formal dress squinted and winked in the many a-candle light. The brush was set on the table.

"Now, let's be off. We'll meet your father at the Hall."

Jane turned round to Dragon, "Sorry about all this, I'm afraid I'll be unavailable this evening for patrol. If anything happens to be the matter, you find me right away." She used her pointer finger for emphasis.

Dragon saluted her in the most assuring of ways, "Leave it to me, Jane!"

The redhead grinned and took off down the hall after her mother, catching up with her as they took the staircase down to the corridor.

The darkness was pierced by candle brackets upon the stone.

"Jane!" A sweet voice wafted out from down the gloomy hallway. Pepper raced merrily up to them.

"Oh, Pepper, you look stunning!" Jane's mother cooed over the kitchen girl's red dress. The hem and long sleeve cuffs were rimmed in silver, the material plain, but of a rich velvety texture.

"Why, thank you." Pepper curtsied, "It was borrowed from the Queen's closet from when she was our age. She is ever so kind." Lady Adeline nodded in agreement.

"Ahem." Jane tapped her foot lightly. The pair looked at her in question. "Shouldn't we be going?" Her mother frowned, but Jane tried to feel a little less than guilty. It was her mother's fault she was being dragged into this instead of what she should be doing, which was patrolling with Dragon. Honestly. They might as well go as to get it over with.

The three rounded the corner and stopped behind a particularly large group milling about the entrance to the Hall. Inside, music wafted out into the night air, sweet an inviting. The smell of meats and mead mingled too with the excited buss all around them.

A servant bowed as they entered the doorway, and immediately Jane felt the weight of the whole room hit her full in the face. That, and the heat.

The Hall was swimming with bodies. Tables erected along the walls were fringed with men and women eating and drinking, the large space in the middle of the room cleared for what Jane dreaded the most- dancing. In the front of the room, upon the large dais, the King sat in his char, the Queen by his side.

The musicians next to them were playing a soft, lilting toon

"Jane!" Jester, dressed in his ever-present outfit, sauntered up to them, tailed by Smithy and Rake. The latter boys were made up a little more handsomely.

"Wow, Jane." Smithy nodded to her, "You're looking a tad less dangerous tonight."

She mock sneered at him. The oaf. She barely registered the crisp flush that was framing Jester's face as he noticed her attire too.

It wasn't that bad, the dress. A pretty blue thing, with long, trailing sleeves and a slight puff at the shoulders. At her waist was a thin band of silver stitched into the fabric, coming down to a small point at the juncture of her legs, and the neck was open just below her collarbone.

Really, she had seen worse.

It was at that time that Rake moved to corner Pepper all to himself, leading her away from them towards a table for a bite of dinner.

"I'm surprised you came, Jane." Jester confessed as the three of them moved to stand near an open door, the one that lead to the practice yard, so they could feel some fresh air.

She shrugged, her curls bouncing, "I made a promise. As much as I hate being here, I can't break a promise."

As the two were talking, a noise at the opposite entrance to the room caused Smithy to lean up onto the balls of his feet, peering over the heads of the guests. He rocked back on his heels, a low whistle coming from his lips.

"What?"

He looked at Jane, an odd expression alight in his eyes, "Our favorite pair just showed up."

That could only mean one pair. Only one pair merited such a tone.

"Gunther."

"And his father," Smithy pointed out.

The large man sauntered into the room, into their view, decked with the most elaborate silks and furs. He made a show of greeting everyone he passed and bowed ever so low at the King and Queen's feet.

Jane peered round the group of courtiers they stood behind, searching with her eyes

Gunther Breech, she noticed, was enjoying the revelry with no more excitement than she was. In fact, he looked like he was trying to pry himself away from his father. He kept dipping up and down on his feet as if looking for something.

"My, my," said Jester, "His father does know how to dress him."

It was true; Gunther might as well had already been Knighted with the attire he was donning. The green tunic he wore was far from the tan thing he had on during practice; it was deep, rich, and emerald, ending in a tight fit about his wrists.

"I think that's real silver, by the looks of it," Smithy noted in regards to the shiny buckle attached to the brown band round the boy's waist, and to the buttons at his cuffs and collar.

Jane snorted.

Typical.

Show off.

Consequently, Gunther's gaze rounded on her, and he froze, settling himself back on his heels.

Getting the intense feeling that he was trying to stare her down, Jane very nearly glared right back at him. He seemed to find this a tad amusing, for one of his eyebrows quirked. She turned round again, not bothering to give him the satisfaction.

He was going to come over there. She knew it. Any little excuse…

"Ah, if it isn't the court jester…" his voice rose over the general white noise of the room. He was walking towards them now. "Oh, wait, it is the court jester- and Smithy, glad you could separate yourself from the bellows. And Jane-"

Jane murmured a very quiet, very unladylike curse. "I'm not really in the mood for this." And she rounded on him.

The boy stopped, mid-stride. He was about two paces from them, and yet he had stopped.

Dragging her gaze to meet his, Jane was surprised that Gunther looked as pale as ever. His mouth was partially open in mid-retort, but there was no sound.

He was staring at her.

Heat was creeping up her neck by the second.

Gunther's eyes were round as dinner plates... and he was still staring.

Jester coughed, meaningfully.

This seemed to recover Gunther from his revere. His mouth snapped closed, his hands balled fists at his side. He was glaring then, glaring at Jane as if she were an impossible problem he was trying to figure out.

It gave her goosebumps.

Without another word he turned on his heel and stalked off.

"Um, Jane?" Pepper was coming up to them, "What was that all about?"

"No idea…."

Smithy let out a low, short laugh.


A/n- Part one to a two or three part fic. It depends on if I want to condense or lengthen certain parts.

Hope you enjoy!

Please review!