Hello again! 4,000+ hits and 30+ reviews on this little old story! It makes me proud that so many people like it when I was only expecting maybe 10 reviews on the whole thing and maybe 100 hits. I have never, in my whole experience of submitting fanfiction on , have ever received so much support. I know I say all this in every introduction or ending comment, so I'll stop for the time being. I'm sorry!

Anyway, so Luffy is headed on his quest for his princess that he has never seen…on his horse…in the dark forest…towards Shanks' castle…in disguise…Okay I'll stop before you guys deem me a weirdo. This is the moment that you all have been waiting for…actually it was supposed to be there LAST chapter, but since I decided to split that chapter it's going to be in this chapter. Also I am really bad at writing love scenes, so bear with me

Note: I do not own One Piece or its characters. They all belong to Eiichiro Oda. (Darn it!)

One Piece Cinderella

Ch 8

Resting one arm on her chair beside her father and Ussop, Nami sighed wearily in impatience. Prince after prince after prince had been presented to her, some with their servants bringing in rings, jewelry, silks, dresses, shoes, even animals. One prince even brought in a statue of her carved from marble, and another from diamond. They serenaded her with songs, music, dancing, even sweet words and poems. Nami simply took in all these things, which being a princess didn't help much, and forced a smile of appreciation to each suitor that came her way, even to some that looked like they should be peasants.

Her hand was grasped and squeezed gently, making her look up to see Shanks smiling at her in encouragement. As the last prince left with an expression of total rejection, the king leaned over next to his daughter's ear and whispered. "Chin up my girl. You'll find that perfect man before the night is through, I'm positive. For now enjoy the ball, have some fun."

This made Nami smile as she kissed her father on the cheek. As she was about to stand to go join the party, thinking that that was the last of the princes, the doors to the ballroom were opened as a red and black carriage pulled up. A man dressed in a red and black outfit with three swords hanging from his belt, and two teenage boys (Nami guessed they were his sons), dressed almost the same way except one was dressed in blue and yellow and the other was dressed in blue and white, exited the carriage and made their way down the long red and white carpet towards Nami and Shanks.

It felt as though an eerie chill had entered the room, making Nami shiver a little as the three men stood before them. All eyes in the silent room were on them, looks of disgust on some people's faces, some with fearful expressions. The new arrivals stood for a moment before the man stepped forward, taking his hat from his head revealing a black bandanna, and bowed to Shanks.

"Your majesty." He said in a very eloquent voice, one that shocked Nami, "May I introduce my sons, whom I hope you daughter will find favorable, Sanji and Helmeppo."

The tall one wearing the blue and gold outfit stepped forward and bowed, taking out his cigarette as he did so. Nami guessed this one was Sanji. Then the other boy, who must have been Helmeppo, stepped forward and did the same thing, almost falling on his face. When the boys went back over to their father, Shanks stood up, stepping down the three red carpeted steps that led from the seats to the ballroom floor, and walked up to the man, smiling.

"Welcome, Lord Zolo." He said in the most polite way possible, "Thank you for attending and I do hope you enjoy yourself. But about your sons, who are very handsome by the way, we will see whom she will find favorable because it is her decision, not mine, to make."

They both stared at each other, one of them giving the other one smiles but inside making sure that the other one wasn't up to something. They were also trying to keep their hatred for one another a secret lest it embarrass them both.

"My lord," Shanks said, breaking the silence. "Why don't we let us and our children enjoy the party. Have some wine and eat to your heart's content." He then turned to the other guests, who were observing what just took place between their king and a common lord in silent shock. "Let the festivities commence!"

The music from the orchestra started playing again as the guests resumed talking amongst themselves or dancing as if the encounter between Shanks and Zolo never happened. Nami, however, noticed that her father and Zolo had gone up to a balcony above the floor where they could watch the dancers and talk in private.

"I did not expect you to attend the ball, Zolo." Shanks began as he and the swordsman sat down, but not before two servants removed Zolo's coat and hat. As they were removing his captain's hat, one of the servants reached to untie the swordsman's bandanna. He had almost touched the ties when he suddenly felt a sword point under his chin, looking down to see Zolo glowering at him. The servant's eyes widened and he backed away from the moody swordsman, trembling.

"Anyway…" Shanks said after he coughed to get the conversation moving after the strange scenario that just took place. "I see that you received my daughter's letter and answered it by coming. I have never met your sons but I can see that they are very much like their father. Especially the one called Sanji, is it?"

Zolo nodded as they both watched Sanji abandon Helmeppo to search through the crowd for Nami, who had stepped off her chair to go and mingle with the guests. "Yes." He answered, smirking. "He is like me, in some ways. We have the same determination to control the things that we have yet to posses and will stop at nothing to have them." He chuckled as he sipped some wine from the crystal glass on the table.

Shanks was starting to get uncomfortable with the direction their talk was going. He shifted in his seat as he heard his enemy talk about his son, although he couldn't tell if Zolo had talked about Helmeppo or not, as he hadn't seemed to go any further.

"I see. But you will just have to wait and see who Nami chooses to be her husband." The king said with a smile. "So, why come to a ball a mere servant is hosting? Is it because of my daughter…or something more."

Leaning back to glance at the king, Zolo returned the same smile, except it wasn't cheerful. "If it was something more, I wouldn't be telling you, now would I?"

Before the king could answer, the green-haired man sighed, "I never received your payment. Were you planning on embarrassing yourself in front of your guests and risking them finding out what power you don't truly possess? The power that should belong to a lord who you are indebted to?"

This time it was Shanks' turn to smile, gesturing a servant over who had two other servants with him, all three of them holding heavy bags which they were struggling to drag over to their master and Zolo. "Here it is, 'my lord'. All of it is accounted for, no more, no less."

Zolo stroked his chin, surprised that the king had the exact payment there. What surprised him even more was that he was so confident about knowing that he had it.

'Well', he thought with a smirk, 'he won't be confident for long.'

Just then, the doors to the ballroom abruptly opened, making the whole room fall silent in awe and wonder at the new visitor. Even Nami turned from what she was doing to curiously glance at the strange guest.

It was a teenage boy who came in amidst the now slack jawed occupants, looking confused at their expressions as he walked across the room, Even the announcer was silent with his hand over his mouth and glazed eyes. The boy took an once-over at the announcer, then at what he himself was wearing: a red captain's robe with a red captain's hat that had a white feather plume sticking out from it. Underneath, a white shirt and black pants complimented the outfit along with knee-high black boots.

Nami stared at him for what seemed like hours Who is this boy?

Suddenly the two strangers locked eyes, neither turning away but neither going closer either. In their minds, there was no one else in the room but them.

Who is this girl? Luffy thought in awe. She's beautiful. Shock and realization came over his face as he glanced at her again after they turned away from each other, faces red in embarrassment. She can't be the princess…can she?

He was about to take another look at her when the sound of clapping was heard. Luffy glanced at who he perceived to be the king up on a balcony with none other than his step-father. Hastily, he took off his enormous hat and bowed, all the while shielding his face from view so that Zolo would not be able to recognize him. Shanks came down the stairs, curious as to whom this boy was that his daughter had taken a liking to.

"Welcome young man!" he said happily, coming over to Luffy, patting him on the back so hard that he almost fell over. "I am honored that you chose to come to my daughter's ball and I hope that you enjoy yourself."

He stepped to the side and made a sweeping gesture over to his left. "Allow me to introduce my daughter, Princess Nami."

Luffy's eyes widened in disbelief as he saw the girl who took Shank's outstretched arm in hers.

She is the princess!

Nami was as equally surprised, but she didn't let it show that the boy looked familiar to her. Instead she jabbed a finger into his chest so hard he almost lost his balance again, getting up into his face and intensely burned her green eyes into his in a 'don't-mess-with-me' look.

"Let's get one thing straight. If you think fancy gifts, statues, or jewelry are the only things that are going to impress me, then you have the wrong girl." Nami huffed as she narrowed her eyes in a penetrating gaze.

Wow, she's not what I was expecting at all Luffy thought, his face turning pale at her non-girly-girl attitude that would bring any man to shame. Deciding that he needed to thaw her out, he started backing away with his hands up in surprise and laughed a little. "I assure you, Princess, I'm not like that."

Apparently, this trick worked. Glancing to see what Nami's reaction would be, he found her staring at him in confusion with her mouth slightly open and her eyes widened, blinking several times. "Uhm, you're not? So you don't expect me to fall head over heels in love with you because of how much money you have or your talents like all the others have?"

"All I ask is that we share a dance together." Luffy said as he bowed and held out a hand for her. "You would like that, wouldn't you Princess?"

Nami was taken aback at how eloquent this boy was. Before she made her decision, she turned back to look up at her father, who was back up in the balcony with Zolo. Shanks noticed her and gave her a smile back, encouraging her to go for it. Besides, the young man seemed too unlike those other rejected men to not be the eventual choice for his daughter. In fact he was so sure of it, he could hardly contain his excitement when he saw Nami take Luffy's hand and let him lead her onto the dance floor.

"Ussopp! Ussopp! Look!" he practically yelled as he jumped up and down in glee at what just took place. Ussopp, who was sleeping, tending to get bored at parties such as this one, with his monocle almost dropping off his long nose, jolted awake, catching the glass eyepiece as it slipped through his fingers several times.

"What is it your majesty?" he sighed, trying to straighten it back on his nose. Shanks could get too overly excited at trivial things. Instead, of telling him, the king took the monocle and pointed it directly at where Nami and Luffy were dancing. The surprised duke's eyebrowsrose, watching the two figures on the floor slowly swaying back and forth to the music. Ussopp turned back to Shanks, who looked like he was going to pass out, and grinned at his master.

"I must say your majesty, the princess truly does look happy with this one. I believe that we may have found her a potential husband."

"My little Nami is growing up." Shanks replied, a tear forming which he wiped off quickly. As he sniffed, he tried to regain his composure, but ended up falling into Ussopp's arms a sobbing wreck. The duke merely patted the king's back sympathetically, but really wanting his friend to straighten up for his guests, who thankfully hadn't seen their ruler.

"My liege, please show a little bit more composure for your guests." Ussopp said impatiently, pushing the king off of him as gently as he could. "Your daughter especially. She wouldn't want to see her father like this on her big night. Not when she has found her future husband, your future son-in-law. Although that will all have to be determined on how much she likes him, which clearly she does as she turned down the other suitors except for him."

Lifting his tear-stained face from his servant's shoulder, Shanks realized Ussopp was right about Nami turning down the other boys who asked her hand in marriage. He sat down in his chair, sighing deeply, and leaned his head back, a smile on his face. "You're right. I think this is the first time I ever saw her truly happy, not since her mother died." He looked up at Ussopp standing beside him. "You know, I think these two were meant to be together, as if they were ordained or something. Don't you think so?"

The duke merely smiled, patting his friend's back, "Your majesty, I don't doubt it."

This night was all but a dream to Luffy, one that he couldn't wake up from, but one that he wished he would never awake. He never thought that he, a mere servant boy, would be dancing with royalty. A princess to be exact!

All of the other guests watched as he and Nami twirled around the floor, Luffy swearing he saw jealous expressions on all of the invited boys' faces. But he never gave them any mind. The only person who he was currently focused on was the princess. In fact, he couldn't keep his eyes off of her even when they weren't dancing.

Nami was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Her orange hair was curled and pulled back into an elegant bun, pinned up with a white diamond comb, which also matched her long, white, elegant sleeveless, mermaid-style dress with a sweetheart neckline. White, arm-length, silk gloves covered her hands, a white shawl was draped across her arms wrapped around her back, and around her neck was a pearl necklace with a huge diamond hanging in the center. The outfit was topped off by white silk-strapped heels that, to Luffy's surprise, she could dance pretty well in.

All in all she was stunning.

They didn't speak much while dancing. Luffy was trying to focus on exactly how to dance since he had never been to a ball before. Luckily he had Nami to help him, and was soon mastering it, even to go as far as dipping her. As he dipped her, almost falling but he caught his balance, the feeling he got was almost surreal, like floating on air. He stared into Nami's beautiful green eyes and smiled at her as she was set back on her feet, she in turn smiling back.

"You are a wonderful dancer…oh I'm sorry, I can't seem to remember your name." she giggled at the thought.

Luffy froze. That's right! He didn't even give her his name because Zolo was up on the balcony, so of course he couldn't say anything. Worse, if he gave her his name and she then went and talked about him to her father and Zolo, Zolo would put two and two together, figuring out that Luffy came to the ball in disguise. He couldn't let that happen!

"My name is….uhhmm…let's see, what is my name?" he thought for a moment while Nami stared at him, confused at why he had to think up his name instead of knowing it right off the bat like a normal person.

"I've got it!" he exclaimed after five minutes, startling Nami a bit, "My name is Lawrence!"

This made Nami laugh, causing Luffy to wonder what was so funny.

"Oh nothing." she said as she stopped laughing when she noticed him looking at her oddly. "It's just that I've never met anyone named Lawrence before, or who has ever forgotten that their name was Lawrence."

As Nami tried to keep herself under control, she felt Luffy, or "Lawrence", touch her face tenderly, drawing her chin towards him so that she looked him in the eye, causing her laughter to cease immediately. "Well I think 'Nami's' a pretty name. It suits you." He said softly, both of them drawn into one another so that it was hard to glance away.

This made the princess blush as she looked at the ground sheepishly. Luffy noticed and he started to panic, thinking that he may have said or done something wrong. This was his first time with a girl after all and he started to wish that he was more like Sanji. He would know how to handle this type of situation. In fact his older step-brother would know how to handle anything having to do with women. Luffy couldn't exactly say the same for Helmeppo though.

"I wish I could say the same thing." Nami said, her face dropping "But I want a more elegant name, like Sukashi, Motoko, or something beautiful. They're better than 'Nami'."

This time it was Luffy's turn to laugh. "Why would you change it? It's the most beautiful name in the world. Like I said, it suits you."

This made Nami's face turn beet red. Sure she had been called beautiful by pompous, stuck-up, arrogant jerks just so they could have a chance to marry her and inherit her father's kingdom, which would never happen if she had anything to say about it. But when said by this boy who was dancing with her right now, he made it seem like he meant it from his heart and not to be a shallow statement. In fact, 'Lawrence' seemed to not be like any of the other boys. He was kinder, gentler, and more open to what she had to say, not self-centered and only caring when it counted.

As soon as they stopped dancing, Nami flicked a strand of hair behind one ear, smiling. "I want to show you something, if that's alright with you."

Luffy nodded, suddenly feeling the princess grab his hand, leading him out a door that went out onto a balcony overlooking a crystal clear lake. Candles floating on lily pads illuminated the surface of the water as stars twinkled in the night sky. Even the moon was beautiful, making Luffy gasp in awe as he and Nami took a seat on some steps that lead down to the lake. He had never seen a sight like that while in Zolo's castle, of course he wouldn't have been allowed to anyway, often getting in enough trouble so that he was in the dungeons every day at least.

"Wow!" he gasped, "I've never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life!"

Nami placed a hand on her chin, puzzled about how a prince like him would be amazed by a sight such as a lake at night. Most princes wouldn't think twice about it, much less think it was beautiful or anything like that. They would complain about how bored they were. Oddly enough, "Lawrence" was curious, or should we say, fascinated by everything around him at this moment, like a child in a new place, which she thought was strange. Wouldn't he shrug it off as something he had seen before in his castle?

"I've never met a person like you before. You're….different from the others, but a good kind. You don't seem like the type that is used to the whole royalty thing like I am, even though you're a prince." Nami turned to gaze at Luffy, who had turned to listen, his demeanor changing from one of wonder to one of concentration at what she was saying.

"Yeah I know." He replied, leaning back on the palms of his hands as he looked up at the stars, thinking about what would be good to answer her with. "I've always sorta been like that, ever since I can remember. Guesse I've never been good about putting up a front or lying about who I was."

Nodding, Nami decided to ask Luffy about his personal life, to try and get to know him a little better. "So, do you have a mother or father?"

Wow, that was a little random, Luffy thought, a surprised expression coming over his face as he stared at Nami.

God she looked gorgeous in the moonlight!

"Uhhmm…" He glanced down at the ground, trying to come up with a good answer for her. "I do, but…" Darn it! Why couldn't he come up with anything?

"It's okay if you don't have a good relationship with them, although I probably wouldn't understand it since my father and I have one. A good relationship I mean" Nami replied, putting a hand on Luffy's shoulder. "Although, he's been hiding something from me recently. Something about this 'Zolo' person and some sort of treaty."

Zolo? Luffy's heart stopped as he froze. What would the king have to do with his step-father?

He took Nami's hand in his, gently clasping it after he had calmed down. Surprisingly she didn't withdraw her hand from his shoulder, or even notice for that matter. Nami leaned against him and sighed again, continuing to break the silence. "There's also this boy that I saw when I was writing the invitations. He was in Zolo's dungeons with shackles on his wrists. Had on a red sea vest and…."

Pausing and glancing up to meet Luffy's eyes, she thought that she….no it couldn't be…not here anyway. Nami laughed softly at the thought that the boy that she had seen would possibly be the one she was with right now. Impossible!

"Anyway," she continued, hoping that Lawrence wouldn't be too uncomfortable about her not finishing the story, "He also wore blue shorts and yellow sandals. Sadly, the chains were so short against the wall that when he tried to scratch his head, he couldn't reach it. At that point I knew that this one boy meant something very special to me. Unfortunately I also knew I would never be able to see him again, since my father wouldn't have been able to free him. But hopefully this ball will make me forget about him, although it's not unlikely since I'm talking about him to you."

Shock registered all over Luffy's face. She had seen him! Now was the time to act! He had to tell her!

He lifted Nami's shoulders up, turning her to face him. "Nami I have to tell you something!"

Around that moment the clock struck twelve, making tens of thousands of red and gold fireworks shoot up into the sky from across the pond, illuminating the two of them. Nami gasped in awe. Shanks must have decided this. For Luffy, although the fireworks were beautiful, twelve o' clock meant only one thing.

The time that Zolo, Sanji, and Helmeppo would leave the ball!

He knew there was no possible way he could stay without them figuring out that he had gone to the ball. If they did, then he would probably be locked in the dungeons for the rest of his life, or something worse!

Knowing that his time here was limited, Luffy decided that it was better for Nami not to know that he was the boy that she had seen and risk humiliation or rejection from the girl that he had grown to love and who's heart he did not want to see broken because of a lie. He had to act fast!

"Nami!" He shouted over the loud boom of the fireworks.

"Was there something you wanted to tell me, Lawrence? " Nami asked loudly.

Luffy started to fidget nervously. He had to leave quickly! "I…I-I have to go!"

He started to run up the stairs. Nami, confused, held her dress and ran after him all the way to the door, which opened. "Lawrence wait!" Nami yelled, almost out of breath, "Wh-why are you leaving?"

Sadly, before she could catch him, his carriage rolled out of sight and down the pathway towards the gates. As she watched him go, waiting at the doors, a glint on the ground caught her eye. Reaching down, Nami picked up an emerald ring that someone had dropped on their way out, looking at it closely.

I wonder who's this is? She thought to herself as she made her way back into the castle

Meanwhile Luffy was hightailing it back to Zolo's castle at breakneck speed so he could be home before his step-father or step-brothers ever found out he was gone. Luckily he made it just in time to see that there was no carriage, meaning that they hadn't gotten home yet.

Sneaking into the stable, he put the horse up, which was panting and covered with sweat, then, after he buried the clothes that he had wore to the ball, he stretched his arm up to the back balcony leading into Sanji's bedroom, grabbing the stone railing and swinging with all his might, flew up and landed in the room with time to spare to get back into the position where he was before he snuck out to the ball.

As he clinked the last shackle together and threw the key back to its original spot, he leaned his head back and smiled, his mind wandering back to this night, the most magical night of his life and the girl that had captured his heart so much that he never wanted her to let go.

Whew! Gosh that was such a long chapter! I actually had a lot of trouble with this chapter just because as I said earlier I'm not very good at writing love scenes. Plus my computer has been out of commission for some time, and also work, which takes some of my time but not all of it. It is actually 1:00 am right now as I'm writing this and I am mentally exhausted. I had TWO writer's blocks on this chapter just because it was the most important scene in the story, and I did not want to disappoint my readers. Thank you all for your support of this story and I shall be back with chapter 9! I'm going to sleep now. Goodnight!