The Fate of the Missing Roses

DISCLAIMER: "Jane and the Dragon" belongs to Martin Baynton and company. This is merely a whimsical piece of fan fiction made for no other profit than the joy of receiving reviews. This is my first time writing for this fandom so please excuse me if I make any storyline errors or if any of the characters are not written as they are supposed to be. Just a descriptive piece, hardly any dialogue. Hope you like it. Please do leave a review.

---Set after "Shall We Dance?"---

--

To say that the special "Jane Ball" that Pepper and the others had put-together (and at such short notice!) was a success would be a gross understatement.

Of course, they had none of the fineries and elaborate ornaments as the guests in the castle, but that didn't matter so much since they all had a grand time with one another and that was what counted most. After all, they still had a grand ballroom of sorts (the courtyard was looking finer than it had ever been in centuries), they had wonderful company, very lively music, and creative dancing. Jane was simply thrilled to still be able to enjoy a ball of her own, with her dearest friends, and to also be able to fulfill her promise to Princess Lavinia.

Seeing the little girl's face light up when the young knight in training approached her for the first dance was all the glory Jane could ever hope for. And she was also greatly relieved that she did not let anyone down. In this little way, she was already upholding the Knight's Code. But she never imagined that dancing would be considered a chivalrous deed. Apparently, there was so much more to being a knight than she had previously supposed.

Nevertheless, every experience is a new lesson. Jane remembered Sir Theodore saying something like "the best lessons are unplanned." That was very true.

But one of the highlights of this special ball held in her honor was the fact that she did not have to wear any stupid, frilly gown. After all, she was a squire of the King's court, a knight-in-training, and such a feminine piece of clothing was not befitting her current station in life.

Jane was not one to ponder on such profound notions in the midst of merrymaking and so set aside these musings in order to fully immerse herself in the party the others had thrown for her. There were more amusing things to think about at the moment.

Everyone in her ball was as charming as could be and that set this feast aside from the other balls Jane had attended in her short lifetime in the King's court. At least this time, there was no need for her to follow such stringent rules on manners and etiquette that were sometimes completely absurd.

Not wearing a gown was one benefit but this private celebration had more merits, the more Jane observed it. She was celebrating with the people closest and dearest to her and she did not have to put up with the arrogance and snobbery of the other vain peacocks in court. There were no boring political discussions to be sat through and no more talk of trade and economy either.

While Jane acknowledged that as a knight the more knowledge about the world she learned, the better, balls were hardly the venues for such education. She much preferred dancing.

And since that desirable topic has been brought up, it has to be noted that the dancing at Jane's ball far surpassed that in the King's ball in creativity and fun.

For although Jester and Smithy had conceded that Jane was the superior dancer, they still did not relent in their competition against one another. Jane, Pepper, Rake, and the Princess watched with great amusement as each boy came up with more and more "creative" dance steps just to outdo one another.

And it looked like they were both having fun doing it too.

The music provided by Jester was of course as fine as any the others had heard in the castle. Inspiration never seemed to leave the artistic young man as he played and sang his lively ballads and entertained them all with his crazy stories and hilarious antics.

Jane of course was called upon more than once to demonstrate her own newly-acquired proficiency in dancing. And she was only too happy to oblige them.

Even Dragon participated enthusiastically in the party, laughing and singing along with the rest of them. The only activity which he was discouraged to do was dancing. After all, if the gigantic creature was to so much as swish his large tail in the wrong direction, significant damage would be done that would dampen their spirits, to say the least.

But Dragon didn't really mind. The victory Jane had won for the day was enough to keep him in very good spirits.

All the previous unpleasantness had been forgotten.

"It's just a pity," Rake said with a sigh, "that we could not use my roses to decorate the castle. They bloomed especially well this year."

Even the incident of the rose robbery was looked upon with some manner of amusement, mostly because of the so-called motive for the theft.

"Gunther has a lady friend?" Jester cried incredulously, "I can hardly believe it!"

And indeed the others shared the same sentiment and much laughter was heard at the expense of the aloof young squire and his lady friend.

The others declared that they had never really seen Gunther with any other girl but Jane and they were sure he did not treat her as a lady friend. The redhead heartily agreed and laughed as hard as the others when she tried to imagine her colleague and rival playing the courtly gentleman.

"If you ask me," Jester speculated, "there is no lady friend at all. She is just an imaginary person conjured by Gunther to excuse his actions."

"And what might his real reason be for stealing the flowers?" Dragon asked curiously.

"Well," Jester replied, "I do but guess but maybe our noble young squire has a fondness for flowers himself."

This hypothesis only made everyone burst into another round of laughter.

"Of course he'd die before he ever admits it," Jester added slyly.

Soon, all the merriment and fun was over and everyone retired to their rooms.

While walking to her tower, Jane bumped into the King as he was leaving the ball looking like he had thoroughly enjoyed himself.

"Well, well, Jane," King Caradoc commented with a fatherly smile, "I must say you were much missed in the ball tonight."

Jane gave a small smile and respectful bow in reply.

"By some more than others," the King added rather mischievously as he jerked his head in a certain direction.

Jane looked towards where he was pointing but when she saw only the sullen figure of Gunther walking out (the squire looking even more sullen than usual), she gave the King a questioning glance.

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Sire," she replied innocently.

The King raised his eyebrows slightly at this before smiling knowingly.

"Just as well," he replied, "I hope that next time we shall not be denied the pleasure of your company."

"No, indeed, Sire," Jane added as the King took his leave.

Jane continued to walk towards her tower while Dragon soared above her. They talked a bit about the day's events but both admitted that they were just about ready to go to bed.

"What do you think the King meant earlier?" Jane asked Dragon, seeking some advice.

The gigantic reptile gave a shrug.

"Who knows?" he replied nonchalantly.

"I guess it doesn't really matter," Jane answered with a small yawn, "but still, today was full of surprises."

But little did Jane know that there was one surprise left waiting for her that night and it involved a bouquet of roses lying on her bedside table.