Disclaimer: I own nothing
All across the land there was great excitement, for tonight was the night of the great ball at the palace. The king had decreed that upon the return of the youngest prince a ball was to be held in his honour; to welcome him home and more importantly to find him a suitable partner.
Not much was known about this prince except that he was known as "The 14th" and had spent many years travelling abroad with his mentor General Cross. However this was enough to make all the ladies, single or otherwise, swoon. Not only was his mentor a favourite amongst the women of the land and was sure to have passed on some of his charm to his apprentice but the prince was also shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
Furthermore if he looked anything like his brothers, Sheryl and Tyki, and everyone was convinced that as the youngest he would be the most handsome; then all the women were determined to attend the ball and fight for the prince's affections, which is why they had spent the day getting ready for the big event.
Even their brothers and fathers were encouraging their antics as they too eagerly anticipated the consequence of becoming a part of the royal family. All except one brother, whose name was Komui Lee. On the contrary he was very afraid that the prince would take one look at his wonderful, beautiful, little sister and fall madly and hopelessly in love with her. Then he would attempt to steal her away on his white horse like a thief in the night and Komui refused to just stand back and watch such an abominable event take place.
No, Komui would not just stand back, quite the opposite, he was willing to fight to the death, using underhand tactics of course, in order to keep his Lenalee safe and sound at home with him. He didn't care how charming or mysterious the man was or even that the man in question was a prince, no man was good enough for his sister.
Therefore with the full intention of not allowing the prince to even lay eyes on his sister he had ordered a large number of vegetables that had been delivered that afternoon. He had then asked his dear sister if she would, out of the kindness of her heart, prepare the vegetables so that they may be cooked and given out to the poor the following day.
Smiling benignly, Komui assured his sister that when she was finished she would definitely still have time to get ready and go to the ball. Of course she had not been able to refuse, it was a request from her brother and more significantly it was to help ease the suffering of the peasants. These poor, unfortunate peasants would not be able to afford the cost of the dress code that would allow them entry into the palace and so would be unable to enjoy the delights of the ball.
It was in this manner that Komui hoped to keep his sister too busy in the kitchen and then later too tired to want to go to the ball. But by some miracle, barely two hours had passed before Lenalee had called him back into the kitchen to show him that her task, which should have taken her several hours, was already complete.
Distressed, Komui had watched his sister skip merrily up to her room to begin her preparations for the ball before he ran off and hurriedly placed another order of vegetables twice as large as the last. He would just have to explain to Lenalee that by some unknown reason not all the vegetables had been delivered at the same time. Lenalee would be a little upset but it was for her own good.
The vegetables would be there soon and in the meantime Komui would see about dispensing of all of her shoes, he reasoned that she would definitely not be able to get into the palace if she had no shoes.
Cursing, Kanda quickly dodged a carrot avalanche and slid round a tower of potatoes as a ridiculous amount of peeled and prepared vegetables littered the floor obstructing his path into the kitchen. This came as no surprise to the young man as this was his third delivery to the same house that day and the orders of vegetables had gotten larger each time.
Getting more annoyed by the second Kanda stumbled into the kitchen where he was finally able to find enough space to set down the sack of turnips he'd been carrying. Apparently someone had had the forethought to move the prepared vegetables out of the kitchen and into the adjoining hallway to make space for the new delivery. However this small kindness was far from enough to make Kanda any less pissed off.
Although Kanda did spend most of his time in varying states of irritation, today he had been pushed to his limits and for the millionth time that day he cursed the prince, the prince's decision to return and the stupid ball in honour of the stupid prince. So while the kingdom had thrummed with excitement at the announcement over the ball Kanda had remained indifferent and had gone about his days ignoring the frantic activity of the rest of the people in the land. It wasn't until the last few days leading up to the actual ball that Kanda had realised just how much of a pain it would be; disrupting his very private life.
Kanda gained enjoyment from one activity in life, fighting, which fit in quite nicely with his only goal in life; to join the army and work his way up to the royal elite force, the most respected fighters in the kingdom. On the other hand his father, while a good fighter himself, was not so keen for Kanda to fulfil his dreams and had therefore persuaded Kanda to withhold joining the militia till his 19th birthday. Kanda, after having to listen to his father's pleas for many days and then suffer through his father's many bouts of crying, had reluctantly agreed, if only to escape such an aggravating predicament.
Therefore with his 19th birthday finally drawing near Kanda had earnestly thrown himself into training, spending more time in the forest working through exercises with his sword then helping his father and brothers in the family business. Unfortunately the ball had brought forth unforeseen problems to Kanda's heavy training regime.
His father, an artist in his spare time, had been commissioned to paint a portrait of the recently returned prince and both his elder brothers had been hired as entertainers for the ball (one was a musician the other a juggler). These altercations in their normal routines meant that Kanda had been forced to attend to the family business as the rest of his family spent more time working at the palace.
It had been simple enough to begin with, he just had to make a couple of deliveries a day when no one else was available, but as the ball drew nearer he was spending more time making deliveries and sorting out the produce. On the day of the actual ball it finally came to a head and he had been left completely on his own to deal with the workload. He supposed he could have just walked away from the added workload in favour of training but he wasn't entirely heartless and he did depend on the family business for his own living as well.
The work would have been durable, after all delivering vegetables could hardly be considered a challenging job, except today of all days some nut had decided he wanted enough produce to sustain the kingdom for the next fortnight. Not that Kanda cared, the idiot could buy enough vegetables for three kingdoms if he really wanted, but as today was the day of the highly anticipated ball most of the country's produce was being delivered to the palace.
As a result Kanda had been running around trying to put such a large order together, which meant he had also had no time to spare that day for his training. Therefore not only was he doing the work of potentially four people, more importantly he had not been able to relieve some of his anger with some quality time with his sword, all of which contributed to a very pissed off Kanda.
Taking a deep breath Kanda tried to reign in his anger, desperately reminding himself that this would probably be the last delivery of the day and tomorrow he could return to his training when his family resumed their normal jobs. A few minutes of quiet meditation and Kanda was ready to carry on dragging in the remaining vegetables, wanting to get it over with as soon as possible so he could go home and get in a couple of hours training before it was too late. So moving as fast as the scattered vegetables would allow him Kanda hurried to finish his task. However it seemed that for Kanda things would only go from bad to worse.
Having set down the final sack of vegetables, sweating and panting slightly with exertion Kanda sat down beside the feeble fire in the grate, on the only stool visible in entire kitchen, intending to have a quick rest, when a sudden downfall of parsnips made him aware of another person in the room. Turning towards the door Kanda's eyes went wide with shock.
By this point he had already realised that the proprietor of this estate was a bit extreme but he hadn't realised that it wasn't confined to the man alone, for right in front of him, stood a man, a man wearing a dress, a very sparkly, puffy, green dress that clashed horribly with his red hair and eye patch. A man who seemed to be just as shocked at seeing Kanda, as Kanda was at coming face to face with the man who was obviously the Lord of the Manor's 'kept' boy.
Kanda knew men like these existed but this was the first time meeting one. Feeling slightly uncomfortable Kanda rose from his seat stiffly and gave the man a polite nod, intending to make a quick exit. Hastily he took a step to the right, but before he could put a foot forward the man-in-a-dress also stepped to the right, standing directly in front of Kanda.
In the packed kitchen, where there was barely enough room for one person to walk about without causing a vegetable rainfall, the man had quite effectively blocked Kanda's path in a single move, forcing Kanda to step back to his left. The man-in-a-dress, however, refused to let him pass and again followed in Kanda's track, moving to the left. Kanda, not of a nature to hold his temper for long, glared furiously at the man.
The man-in-a-dress, however, managed to maintain a stupid grin even when faced with Kanda's glare. While this was an impressive feat, many a man having crumbled when confronted with Kanda's wrath, his smile only infuriated the dark-haired man even more.
"What the hell? Get out of my way!" Kanda shouted angrily.
"Hey now, there's no need to get your knickers in a twist! Anyway the Old Panda had another job to get to so I'm filling in for now. We'll have to get your dress sorted and then your transport, but have no fear you're in good hands." Not understanding anything that was spewing out of the man's mouth Kanda replied impatiently.
"Stop talking. I've got no idea what you're talking about or who you are!"
"Oh right, I'm Lavi" the man-in-a-dress replied. "I'm a fairy—"
"Well obviously you're a fairy!" exclaimed Kanda, looking pointedly at the man's dress.
"—godfather in training" Lavi continued ignoring Kanda's rude outburst.
"So moving on, I'm sure Panda has done this bit already but this is my first actual job so I need the practice." Preparing himself by taking a deep breath Lavi filled his smile with as much warmth and goodwill as he could muster.
"I, am your fairy godfather, and I can make all your dreams come true! And tonight I will grant your wish, for with my help you shall go to the ball!" Then with a final flourish his wand appeared hovering in the air near his head in a puff of glitter that sparkled its way down to the floor. Grabbing his wand Lavi bestowed a delighted smile on his audience, which unfortunately soon deflated and turned into a frown.
According to the handbook the target was supposed to look at him with unrestrained excitement and hope at these wondrous words. However the person in front of him was instead staring distastefully down at the glitter that fallen on his boots. Mentally checking his routine Lavi was certain he'd done everything right.
"Tonight you shall go to the ball!" Lavi repeated, just in case the target had missed it the first time, and finally Kanda looked up, distaste still the only expression on his face.
"But I don't want to go to the stupid ball!" Kanda ground out between clenched teeth. "I just want to go home you stupid fairy so get out of my way! And you look completely stupid in that dress!" Kanda added in for good measure.
"Yeah, well, you look like a dude but no one is giving you a hard time about it." the fairy-godfather sniped back.
Exhausted, Lavi had given up with his fairy-godfather image as it was obviously lost on the woman in front of him. He'd thought she was going to be sweet and beautiful, and he would save her from her dreary life by giving her the means to go to the ball. Then she would gush at his talents and tell him he was a king amongst fairy-godfathers. He was sorely mistaken.
"I'm a –" Kanda tried to speak, but Lavi, now even more eager to get the job finished, interrupted him.
"Let's just get this over with. You will go to the ball, stun the prince with your good looks, fall madly in love and live happily ever after and I will likewise live happily ever after, safe in the knowledge that I will never have to see you again." Hearing Lavi's plan Kanda was less then thrilled and was quite willing to voice his objections.
"Oi you stupid fairy, I'm not—"with a wave of his wand, Kanda lost his voice.
"You should be seen and not heard, you're far more attractive this way." Grinning Lavi took in the appearance of a bedraggled and confused Kanda, he was honestly quite adorable this way. Satisfied Lavi turned to survey the room.
"Hmm, I think we'll have to do this outside. Follow me!" hiking up his dress Lavi made for the door and with a quick flick of his wand a very reluctant Kanda followed him, all the way out into the courtyard, his legs moving without his permission.
Placing a pumpkin, that he'd picked up on their way out, on the ground near Kanda's feet Lavi patted the irate man on the shoulder.
"Now you stay here, I need to go find some stuff and then I shall transform you from a destitute moth into a beautiful butterfly." Goodwill and enthusiasm renewed, Lavi shuffled off with Kanda glaring balefully after him.
Standing alone and for some inexplicable reason unable to move Kanda was left to wait for Lavi's return, watching the stars appear in the night sky.
When Lavi did return he was holding the reins of a horse, Kanda's horse, with two lizards, four mice and a rat marching behind in an orderly fashion. Lavi, at the head of the procession seemed to be singing happily, and waving his wand in the air in time with his tune. When suddenly with a loud 'pop' and another burst of billowing glitter the parade came to a standstill barely a meter away from the immobile Kanda.
Kanda, who had watched the parade with the glare of a man highly irritated by being forced to stand completely still on the outside grounds of customer's estate when he would much rather have gone home, now waited impatiently for the glitter to settle before he could see what damage the idiot was doing to his horse.
He did not have to wait long and as Lavi stood slightly to the side surveying his work with smug satisfaction Kanda could see that in place of the original procession there now stood four beautiful white horses, two footmen, a coachman and a short 'ratboy' singing the latest folk song that was taking the market place by storm.
It was only after Lavi took a moment to hum the catchy tune along with the ratboy that he eventually addressed Kanda.
"So I've got you the standard four white horses, two footmen (although I'm sure you could have done with just one), a coachman and the singing rat, who will be providing some music to get you in the mood (my own special contribution), but I'm afraid you won't be able to take him with you. So what have you done with the carriage?" Sending an accusatory glance in Kanda's direction Lavi surveyed the area, eyes lighting up with delight as he found the pumpkin sitting comfortably by Kanda's boots and began to buff the skin with his arm.
Kanda was paying no mind to these actions though as he inspected the horses, deciding that he would take all four in compensation for all his troubles with the red-haired buffoon.
Still lost in his thoughts Kanda also missed as Lavi waved his magic wand over the pumpkin, that he had set a little further aside, transforming it from a humble pumpkin into a grand sliver and glass carriage, with royal purple upholstery and ornate jewelled wheels. It was so grand that Lavi had to jump back due its sheer size. Then waving his wand at the transformed animals, they were in the blink of an eye, settled into their respective positions on the coach.
It wasn't until Lavi had returned to Kanda's side, and was circling him with a critical eye that Kanda refocused his attention, resuming his glare at the irritating fairy. Lavi, however, was paying him no heed. The dress was the most important part of the deal and he needed to concentrate.
Deciding to just take the plunge he flicked his wand at Kanda. Watching in dismay Kanda saw his clothes quickly turn into a strapless, corset, pink, ball gown and immediately growing red with anger Kanda tried to pour as much venom into his glare as possible, but this still had no affect on the other man.
"Hmm...broad shoulders." shaking his head Lavi waved his wand again.
This time Kanda appeared to be fitted into a white, satin, halter neck gown. Lavi frowned.
"Manly arms..." he waved his wand again.
Kanda was now in a dress that was light blue, cut off the shoulder with a décolletage neckline and short puffy sleeves. The bodice skimmed his torso before the skirt flowed out slightly at the waist, all the way down to the floor, layered with organza to create an almost ethereal look. The dress was beautiful but it still didn't seem to look quite right on Kanda.
Checking his watch Lavi sighed, he didn't have much time to find the perfect dress and so he would just have to make a few adjustments. A wand flick and Kanda's cleavage appeared to swell, another flick and the bodice became more rigid pulling Kanda in to give his body more feminine definition, another flick and he wore gloves that went past his elbows, another flick and his angry flush was transformed into a pretty blush. However Kanda was too aggravated by his reinforced bosom to notice all the changes that followed.
"They aren't real, just a bit of padding, to fill out the dress. Don't push them around too much or they'll look misshapen. Oh and if the bodice starts to annoy you, well you'll just have to suck it up, there's no beauty without a bit of pain." Lavi was quite proud of his work so far and just needed to add a few more touches before his job was done.
This time Lavi flicked his wand at Kanda's hair and it quickly slid out of its high ponytail and twisted itself into a low messy bun slightly to one side of Kanda's head, wisps of hair falling gracefully around his face.
"Now for the shoes!" Lavi exclaimed triumphantly and flicked his wand again.
Suddenly Kanda began to sway, unable to deal with his new centre of balance and his toes squeezed uncomfortably together, he was very close to falling flat on his face if it wasn't for Lavi's timely support.
"Hmm, ok, we'll leave the shoes, it's not like anyone can see them under the dress." And with another flick of Lavi's wand Kanda was safely back in his boots and standing on his own.
"…a little bit of make-up and a smile…" another two wand flicks, "and we're done! I am a genius!" Lavi crowed in delight and then checked the time.
"Ok, so here's the deal, at the stroke of midnight the magic will wear off and your feet will no longer be in my power and you'll be free to run off and do what ever you want. But till then you will go to the ball and dance with the prince, and you will dance with the prince, a whole dance, otherwise the magic will not wear off! Is that clear? Good. Now get in the coach." Trying to glare unhappily with all his might Kanda was forced to stomp his way into the waiting carriage.
Although he did not expect to get a response Lavi waved excitedly as the carriage began to move away, angry eyes staring back at him through the window.
"My condolences to the poor sod who falls in love with you!" Lavi called after the departing carriage.
At the same time Kanda was just setting out to head to the palace, the ball was already in full swing. Ladies and gentlemen flittered around the great hall, sampling the food, chatting amiably and dancing enthusiastically.
The king, sitting on his throne on a raised platform at the front of the ballroom, observed all of this with great delight. The ball was turning out to be quite an enjoyable event for all and many lovely ladies filled the room. His children could also be seen in various places around the room and having a good time, all except the recently returned prince.
Even though the ball was being held in his honour, Allen had refused to be part of a grand entrance and to open the ball. He had declared that if he was forced to make a display of himself then he would refuse to attend the ball altogether. The king had been greatly upset by this declaration and had eventually given in to his youngest son, admitting to himself that Allen had never really liked to be much in the public eye.
The king sighed; at least Allen had agreed to attend the ball, although he appeared to be keeping a very low profile for the moment. However the king was remaining positive and with so many lovely ladies in attendance he was sure that one of them would lure Allen out of hiding.
The guards were in awe of the carriage that had just come to a stop outside the palace pulled along by four magnificent white horses. Opulent carriages had been arriving all evening but this one was something else and they waited eagerly for the occupant to alight.
The footmen were quick to step down from their posts and soon a rugged boot stepped out of the carriage, landing aggressively onto the fold out steps of the carriage, quickly followed by a second boot. Using the side of the door the occupant managed to lever 'her' body upright, struggling to exit with the folds of her skirt.
Snubbing the aid of the footmen she wrestled her way out of the carriage. Finally standing, the dress fell properly to the floor hiding her boots from view and without a backwards glance she stomped her way into the palace, every guard's head turning in her direction as she walked past.
Smile plastered unwillingly onto her face she took her first step into the ballroom and made her way down the grand staircase into the room. Many of the occupants watched mouth hanging open as she barrelled her way into the room but soon turned back to their own activities when she shuffled off to the side of the hall.
The women in particular had little time to spare gawking over the awkward woman as they intently scanned the room for the missing prince. It had been a couple of hours since the ball had started and no one had even caught sight of the man let alone ensnared him to dance. However their search was made all the more harder by the fact that no one knew what he looked like.
He was definitely there though, all of the royal family was in attendance; Sheryl and Tyki could be seen amusing many women on the dance floor with their light feet. Marion Cross had also confirmed that he had seen the prince enter the ballroom, although the women had been too enamoured with Cross to actually ask him to point them in the prince's direction.
Kanda heard all of this excited whispering over the prince's whereabouts with a sense of doom. If no one had seen the prince how was he supposed to dance with the stupid fool and be released from the fairy's evil curse.
He'd tried to barge his way past the crowds and to find a dark corner to hide in until he could locate the stupid prince, however his feet did not seem to be listening to his brain and he was constantly walking back towards the outskirts of the dancing couples. He tried to glare angrily at his feet but that didn't work either.
After a few trips back and forth in this strange manner he finally drew the attention of a prince, just not the one he'd been hoping for.
Prince Tyki had been amused when his father had first announced the ball, especially since neither he nor Sheryl had been given the honour of a 'bride-finding' ball. He supposed that their father thought that if he could tie Allen down with a wife he would no longer wish to travel. Still, the idea of a ball would be pretty fun and Road seemed especially excited about the prospect of staying up late and dancing the night away.
He'd been enjoying the ball so far and his brother's antics of hiding in plain sight from his adoring crowd; the women were literally walking straight past him, granted he was standing behind a very large fruit bowl. He was now further entertained by what seemed to be a very indecisive maiden walking back and forth from the edge of the dance floor to the back of the room, unashamedly jostling the other guests as she shuffled past.
Wondering if she was merely in need of a dance partner Tyki abandoned his post (where he had been watching his younger brother move swiftly as Cross came near him) in favour of approaching the odd girl.
Tyki was hard pressed not to laugh at the woman in front of him, although she wore a smile on her face it seemed she was far from enjoying herself, in fact it looked as if she wished to flee at any moment, but for some reason could not even turn to face the exit.
"Excuse me Miss, are you all right?" Tyki asked the fair maiden in his most distinguished voice, he had a reputation to uphold after all.
At first, Kanda's initial instinct was to turn around and punch the man who had dared to call him 'Miss', but then he remembered that he was wearing a dress. His next instinct was to tell the man to 'leave him the hell alone' and push the man out of his way.
However, upon catching sight of exactly who had accosted him, Kanda changed his mind. Even Kanda, the social recluse that he was, instantly recognised that the man talking to him was Prince Tyki, elder brother of the absent prince. Surely, Kanda thought, if anyone knew where the cowardly prince was hiding it would be his brother, and having somehow regained his power of speech during the carriage ride to the palace Kanda now squared his shoulders and attempted to question the prince politely.
"Do you have any idea where you're stupid brother is hiding?"
"Exactly which one of my brothers are you referring to, my lady?" Tyki asked in reply keeping a perfectly straight face. Kanda was not buying the prince's ignorance and forcefully replied.
"The stupid arsehole who the king is throwing this ball for!" Tyki was slightly impressed, this was the first woman who actually had the gall to speak to him in such a manner.
Furthermore she was the first to actually ask him where his younger brother was hiding. There had been a few women throughout the night who had approached Tyki with a similar intention but had never really made it as far as asking after finding themselves mesmerised by the prince's aura.
"Ah, so you're referring to my sweet younger brother I see. But what could you possibly want with him, my lady?"
"To dance, that's what you do at a ball, isn't it? What else would I want to do with the wimp who can't even turn up to his own party?"
"Well, I have the strangest feeling that you're more likely to wring his neck, the ball withstanding"
"...only after I've had my dance." Kanda grudgingly replied.
"If you are that eager for a turn about the room, I would be more then happy to oblige and I can assure you I am a far better dancer."
Kanda was just about to bluntly reply and demand that the prince stop trying to cover for his brother when an intruder stopped him.
"Ah, my dear lady, before you answer I would also like to entreat you to accept my offer for a dance." The interloper asked suavely and bowing gracefully he quickly introduced himself.
"Marian Cross at your servi—" However, Kanda unimpressed by his theatrical display and becoming more impatient at his time wasting away in idle chatter, interrupted him abruptly.
"Tell me where you're apprentice is now or I'll break your legs." his interruption, strangely enough, seemed to amuse the man and his smile growing quite fond as he took in Kanda's aggressive stance.
"I do believe he will be joining us shortly." Cross replied after sharing a knowing look with Prince Tyki whose amused smile appeared to be firmly affixed to his face.
Prince Allen had noticed the lady the moment she'd entered the room. She had no grace, no poise, no gentility about her: she was wonderful.
Watching from behind his fruit bowl he'd seen her stomp her way into the ballroom, unsympathetic to the rules of basic good etiquette and then slide out of his view as she turned to meld into the crowd. Still hiding behind his tower of fruit Allen debated the pros and cons of abandoning his position that had concealed him so well from the women who desperately sought his attention.
It wasn't that he really wanted to be hiding behind a fruit bowl when the rest of his family seemed to be having so much fun, but he'd seen the hungry looks some of the women had been sporting as they searched for him in the crowd and he had no wish to be bombarded with eager women all wanting him to dance. Even scarier he'd heard the salacious whispering of some women telling each other what they'd do to him if they did manage to catch hold of him.
He wasn't even that interested with women to begin with, not the way his mentor Cross was, and on his travels he'd discovered that women were constantly disappointed by his lack of debonair charm. But this woman intrigued him, she wasn't like any of the other women attending the ball who daintily pranced about the room, no, her movements were decidedly manly in comparison.
Shifting to the side Allen stealthily made his way across the room hoping to get a closer look at his object of interest. But alas it seemed as if Allen had delayed for too long, the woman having already attracted the attention of his older brother Tyki. However after a few moments it appeared that she had not succumbed to Tyki's charm and they were still conversing near the dancing couples rather the taking to the floor.
Allen breathed a sigh of relief and inched his way closer. But before he could get much farther another suitor entered the scene and Allen ducked quickly behind a pillar. Still too far away to hear the conversation Allen watched apprehensively, keeping well out of sight. A few moments later and the woman had still not been led onto the dance floor.
Allen was impressed. Not only had she not been lured onto the dance floor by Tyki's seductive manner but even his mentor Cross had apparently not managed to melt her heart if her clenched fists were anything to go by. It was time to make his move. Stealing his reserve Allen finally stepped out of the shadows and headed straight for his target.
Yet as he drew closer and could clearly see the amused looks on both his brother's and mentor's faces he became slightly worried.
"And here he is now, my lady, just as I promised." Cross stated as Prince Allen joined them. Smiling hesitantly Allen gave the woman a polite bow as he came to stand in front of her, but before he could introduce himself properly Kanda spoke.
"This is your younger brother? He looks nothing like you!" exclaimed Kanda to Prince Tyki, for while both Prince Tyki and Sheryl had dark hair with tanned skin the prince standing in front of him was fair skinned with white hair and grey eyes. Shrugging Tyki nonchalantly pointed at Allen.
"Albino" Tyki explained. "Is that a problem?" Tyki asked ignoring his brother's irritated glare.
Kanda didn't give a damn what the prince was and as he glanced at the majestic clock that decorated the front of the room he saw he was quickly running out of time. Ignoring Tyki's question Kanda addressed the shorter prince.
"So you're definitely the stupid prince who just returned?"
"Yes, I just got back from—Hey! I'm not stupid!" Allen stated vehemently. But his protests went unheard as Kanda had stopped listening at the word yes. With a quick nod at Prince Tyki and General Cross, Kanda had hiked up his skirt with one hand and taken hold of Prince Allen with the other, dragging him on to the dance floor.
"Well?" Kanda asked expectedly.
"Huh?" Not deigning to give a proper reply Kanda looked pointedly at the other dancers and waited for the prince to catch up.
Finally getting the hint Prince Allen awkwardly stepped forward and with an uncertain smile took his partner into his stiff arms. Allen then spent a few moments trying to clumsily position his hands into a comfortable position while Kanda tried to keep their bodies as far apart as possible.
Their first few steps were a disaster, they moved with no coordination and radiating awkwardness. Bumping into each other and the surrounding dancers, it wasn't long before they had gathered an audience, the other dancers getting off the dance floor in order to spare their feet and also view the display more openly.
Nervously Allen glanced around the room noticing that they had suddenly become the only couple still attempting to dance. When another forceful step forward caused both men to collide rather painfully Allen had had enough and letting go of his partner took a step back. Irritated, Kanda tried to glare but still the forced smile remained.
"What the hell?" Kanda growled, he was becoming more embarrassed by the second as their rapt audience began to titter in amusement.
"Give me your hand." Allen commanded holding out his hand, staring at his companion and waiting for him to make the next move. Embarrassed and a bit confused Kanda eventually placed his hand stiffly in Allen's outstretched hand.
"What?" Kanda ground out angrily, but his anger quickly turned to shock as the prince tugged him forward, still holding his right hand the prince slid his free hand around Kanda's waist using it as leverage to draw them even closer together.
"It's okay, just relax." The arm wrapped around his waist creating a warm support. "That's it, now put your other hand on my shoulder, alright? Keep looking at me, only me, okay?" Allen spoke softly trying to reassure his companion, and slowly ever so slowly the tense body in his arms began to relax.
"Deep breath, now just follow my lead, we move as one body so wherever I go, you go, I'll be directing you with my arms so just follow how my body leads you. Ready?" Kanda gave a sharp nod in reply.
Allen gave Kanda another reassuring smile and slowly they began to sway to the music. Though marginally less tense then he was when they first began to dance Kanda's body was still wound too taut to attempt moving successfully around the floor and as the amused sniggers of their audience reached their ears Kanda peered around uneasily. If it wasn't for the spell still active on his feet he would have surely marched over and beaten a few of the spectators.
Instead his hand was gripped tighter by the white-haired prince.
"Hey, remember, only look at me, listen to only me and the music; ignore everything else." With no other choice Kanda forced himself to focus only on the prince in front of him who was still smiling encouragingly and so they continued to sway unmindful of all of the people watching.
When Allen finally drew his arm away from Kanda's waist and placed his hand on Kanda's waist firmly it came as a slight shock to the embarrassed man as he had been concentrating so hard on the prince's face.
"It's okay, I've got you." and with those last reassuring words Prince Allen took his first steps, Kanda following tentatively behind. Taking his partner's anxiety into account Prince Allen started slowly with small steps but as his partner became more confident their dance began to pick up speed until they were lightly turning about the parameter of the dance floor. The other guests watching quietly before a few tentatively took to the floor as well.
On the other side of the room a juggler moved his way subtly over to the orchestra, specifically next to his older brother, who had waved him over.
"Do you think the person currently dancing with Prince Allen is our Kanda?" the musician asked quietly.
"Yeah, I thought that at first too but then I noticed that she's smiling."
"Ah…" was the musicians reply and with a quick nod he returned his attention completely back to his task as his brother sidled back through the crowd.
At the front of the room the king watched gleefully at his youngest son dancing with a dark-haired maiden. Quickly he called over his most highly regarded advisor.
"Who is she?" the King asked excitedly, not taking his eyes off the couple who only had eyes for each other.
"I'm afraid I do not know Sire, I have not seen her before." His adviser replied mystified.
"Well then go find out!" the king exclaimed, shooing the man away while he bounced excitedly in his seat.
Down from the king's podium a hush had settled over the guests until a sudden rush of whispers spread the news that the white-haired man dancing with the dark-haired lady was actually the youngest prince. Suddenly the spectators were pushing forward trying to get a better look at the man with many women wondering how they would be able to cut in.
At the centre of all their attention Prince Allen and Kanda continued to spin about the room, ignorant of the added interest, Allen concentrating on the woman in his arms, guiding her confidently through the dance. Her grip on his hand stronger then any woman he had danced with before.
Allen couldn't help admire the strength in her arms, nor thinking that she would probably have great skill in sword fighting, if she ever wanted to learn and if she was as good as he hoped she would be, it would not be impossible for them to spar together.
But as wonderful as she appeared Allen had to make sure she was aware of his shortcomings, he rather preferred for her to find out now rather then later.
"What would you do if I ate that entire table of food in one sitting?" Allen asked hesitantly gesturing to one of the buffet tables that he could see in between the other guests.
"Che, why should I do anything, moyashi." Kanda stated bluntly not even glancing in the direction of the buffet table.
It wasn't the most encouraging answer but Allen was happy nonetheless, many women having been greatly disgusted by his appetite and table manners. Therefore a woman that didn't care was definitely better than one that ran in the other direction. After a few moments silence Allen tried to engage Kanda in conversation once again.
"So...it's a lovely night tonight."
"Che." Kanda replied irritated, thinking of how he been left to stand immobile, starring at the night sky by a deranged fairy.
"Um...are you enjoying the Ball?" Having failed to start a conversation with a generic statement Allen tried a generic question instead.
"Che." Kanda replied irritated, thinking of how the stupid ball had disrupted his life and how he had been forced to attend the ball by a deranged fairy.
"Is this your first time in a formal dance?" Unable to continue dancing without any verbal input Allen asked another question.
"Che." Kanda replied irritated, thinking of how he had been forced to dance or risk loosing the power to ever walk where he wanted to ever again by a deranged fairy.
"What-" Allen was about to ask the name of his dancing partner when Kanda, fed up with all the miserable reminders of his plight, interrupted him.
"Shut up moyashi!" Kanda growled just as the music came to a short stop signalling the end of their dance, halting their movements. The dance finished and Kanda stomped off the dance floor, an annoyed Allen following close behind.
"What is your problem?" Allen exclaimed rhetorically as he grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the ballroom and onto the veranda that overlooked the palace gardens, intending to give her a piece of his mind. Kanda surprised by the prince's strength was helplessly pulled along. A shocked crowd of guests watching their retreat.
Out on the veranda Kanda did not take in the romantic atmosphere of the palace garden bathed in moonlight, the music playing softly in the background and the scent of flowers wafting around them. Instead Kanda took in the appearance of the annoyed prince standing in front of him and frowned back at him, not willing to hide his irritation in the slightest.
Allen stood straight, making sure that he was at least level in height with Kanda if not a couple of centimetres taller and in still a sense of authority into his stance.
"Argh, what do you want from me? Can't you just be...normal and enjoy the ball?" Allen finally burst out in frustration.
"Shut up Moyashi! I never even wanted to come to this stupid ball!" Kanda cried out in aggravation and Allen visibly deflated, his anger subsiding quickly as he looked at his companion. While Kanda may have been smiling his body language screamed discomfort and distress.
"I didn't want this either; my father sprung the ball on me and blackmailed me to attend the event...I'm not very good with public appearances." Allen spoke softly. "So what do you like to do?" Allen asked hoping that if they talked about something other then the ball Kanda would be more comfortable.
"I train with my sword. I'm going to enter the army and then maybe in four years I can become part of the royal elite force." Kanda said, after a few moments of awkward silence, Allen's forlorn face finally prompting him to give a proper answer.
"You want to be in the elite force in four years?" Allen asked shocked.
"You got a problem with that?"
"What? No, but it normally takes about seven years of exceptional service in the army before you can be promoted to that level, unless you are part of the royal family."
"I will join the elite force in four years." Kanda said insistently.
"Ah, ha, ha, you must really want to get into the elite force if you are going to do it that quickly." Allen said apprehensively, Kanda didn't deign to reply to such an obvious statement.
"So what's your name?" Allen tried to ask again but just as the words left his mouth the clock struck midnight and on that first chime the magic holding Kanda in place dissolved, his smile quickly transforming into a scowl. In an instant Kanda was in flight and with the second chime he was running as fast as he could out of the palace grounds.
Allen was in shock, staring at Kanda's disappearing back in disbelief, his object of affection had just ditched him without a word. At the forth chime with a look of determination etched on his face, Allen took off after Kanda.
Ahead of him Kanda had reached the first set of stairs although his speed was greatly impeded by the weight and volume of his dress. Luckily by the second set of stairs he had managed to pick up speed as his dress changed back into his own clothes. On the other hand his initial hindrance had meant that the prince was not far behind him and Kanda quickly sought a way to gain an upper hand.
At the bottom of the staircase Kanda ran around to the side of the staircase and hid himself in the foliage. Quickly he unlaced a boot and waited till he could hear the sound of the prince drawing near. Then using as much strength as he could muster Kanda threw the boot in the direction of the stables.
Peering anxiously out of the bushes Kanda sighed in relief as the prince fell for his trick and headed off towards the stables, picking up Kanda's boot as he went. Taking his chance Kanda slipped quickly out of his hiding place and ran to the courtyard to retrieve his transport.
Kanda threw himself down on his bed, exhausted and irritated, leaves and twigs in his hair and clothes streaked with dirt due to the mishaps he'd had along his way home.
Upon arriving at his parking space he'd discovered nothing more then a misshapen pumpkin and his horse, crushing his plan of taking the four white horses as compensation for the experience of such a terrible night. He'd then had to avoid using the pathways and roads out of the palace grounds and the surrounding areas, as the guards desperately tried to find a missing princess (he was torn between commending the princess on making her escape or cursing her for creating such a hubbub).
Not wanting to get caught up in the chaos and have his own departure delayed he'd had to use unchartered pathways to get home, encountering more foliage and dirt that had soiled his clothes and hair. Once he'd made it out and was able to use the road he'd raged against the unfairness of it all and the loss of a perfectly good boot.
On the other hand he'd successfully made it home without being caught and was rid of the fairy's curse. Still he'd have to get up early in the morning and retrieve his cart form the estate where he'd met the fairy before his father realised it was missing, but for now he just wanted to close his eyes and sink into oblivion.
Back in the palace the guests continued to enjoy the festivities and with a ball of this grandeur a rarity they were determined to stay as long as possible. The ladies had given up some time ago in trying to entrap the youngest prince, although many sighed in disappointment at the loss.
Having appeared suddenly on the dance floor with an unknown maiden, he had then disappeared just as suddenly when the woman had left the ball, amid a great commotion for the guards to catch her. Similarly the king and his closest advisers had also withdrawn from the ball at the woman's departure with Prince Tyki and General Cross occasionally leaving the hall to join them.
In an antechamber to the ball there was great uproar. It had been two hours and nothing had been discovered in relation to the lady who Prince Allen had danced with at the ball; neither her whereabouts nor her name and family. Furthermore she had somehow managed to evade the palace guards who had searched the grounds and the surrounding area of the palace. But the king would not give up, the lady had obviously captivated his youngest son and he would do whatever was in his power to find her and he continued to shout orders to his staff.
Prince Tyki was highly amused by all of this and was doing his best to cause the king's best adviser an aneurism by getting in his way, the ball in the next room no where near as entertaining. It was only after a stern look from his father that Tyki had left the adviser alone and walked to sit by his brother.
Prince Allen was sitting on one side of the room, not engaged in the chaos caused by the other occupants. Instead he sat ignoring the crowd in favour of staring at a boot that he held in his hand.
"What's with the boot?" Tyki's question startled Allen out of his daze and he looked up at the curious face of his older brother.
"She dropped her boot." Allen stated.
"When she ran out of the palace, she dropped her boot." Allen explained.
"Are you sure it belongs to her?" Tyki asked while motioning for Allen to pass him the boot so he could get a better look. "It's a man's boot; I can't see how any lady would want to wear this especially not to a ball, they'd prefer something…less masculine and more pretty." Tyki said pointedly to Allen.
"Hmm" Allen replied noncommittally as he took back the boot. Tyki rolled his eyes in exasperation. Fortunately General Cross came to his rescue by smacking Allen round the head.
"Stupid apprentice! No female in her right mind would choose to wear a boot instead of a dainty glass slipper. Make some sort of decree that whoever fits the right shoe will become your bride, give them a choice between a dainty glass slipper and that boot and the one who chooses the boot is probably going to the right woman."
"That's a brilliant plan!" the king cut in, having overheard the whole conversation. "we'll use one of Road's shoes, there's no way a full grown woman will be able to squeeze her feet into a shoe that small. Since that's sorted, everyone back to the ball and enjoy the rest of the night!" the king said triumphantly and his attendants sighed in relief.
After a couple of hours of sleep Kanda had dragged himself out of bed, quickly retrieved the cart and was back in bed by the crack of dawn. He could have left the cart where it was and picked it up later but then he would have had to explain to his father exactly what had happened and that was not something Kanda had any intention of doing.
On his return the shoes lying by the heath indicated that his father and brothers had also returned from the ball and the snores that he heard as he carefully tiptoed past their rooms told him they were in deep sleep. When he next woke up it was nearly midday and the sound of his family drifted up from the kitchen. Instantly spotting his discarded boot he quickly hid in the back of his wardrobe, so that no one would ask where its pair had got to, he would have to try and covertly discard of it at a later time.
Taking a few moments to clean himself up and remove the evidence of his romp through the palace grounds Kanda joined the rest of his family in the kitchen where they were having a animated conversation about the night before.
"Yu! Come, have some food, we were allowed to take some of the leftovers from the ball home with us." Kanda's father called out to him as soon as he'd been spotted coming through the door. His brothers gave him nods of acknowledgement not quite as cheery or awake as their father.
"Ah, the ball was wonderful, next time I won't let you refuse the invite and make you come with us too." Kanda scowled at his father's words and when his father started to chat more about the events from the ball Kanda hastily grabbed some food and then ran out the house.
By nightfall Kanda had been confident that it was safe to return home without having to listen to any more talk of the ball. He'd spent most of the day meditating and training to his hearts content, in an attempt to make up for the past few days, and the prince's reminder of how hard it was to advance through the ranks of the army running through his head.
Entering the house Kanda sighed with relief when they sat down for dinner and his father talked about the family business; Kanda's hard work while they were busy and what they would be doing in the next week. Satisfied that the ball would now be forgotten Kanda held back some of his more scathing retorts to his father's comments and went to bed content, happy to be getting back on track with his life.
At the palace the king also went to bed completely content. Having spent the afternoon putting the finishing touches to his new decree and putting all things in order for the search that would take place the following day, he fell asleep with an eager smile, sure that all would go according to plan.
When Kanda woke up the following morning it was to the sound of birds chirping merrily and sunlight seeping in through his window; the start of a beautiful summer day. This immediately put Kanda in a good mood; if the weather was good then he could stay out all day. Getting up hastily he stealthily dressed and escaped from the house, wanting to avoid his father in case he was blackmailed through tears to do some work, which Kanda had no intention of doing. And so spending all morning alone Kanda failed to hear the announcement that was running through the kingdom at lightning speed.
Everywhere there was great excitement with the morning news. No sooner had the town criers read out the new decree announcing Prince Allen's new requirements for a bride; the towns had suddenly become bereft of women, anxious to be home in case they missed their chance, chattering excitedly the whole way home. Those already stationed in their houses waited restlessly by their front doors, impatiently looking out for the appearance of the palace staff. The men thought it was one of the stupidest decrees they'd ever heard; choosing spouse through shoe size.
The first day of the search passed with no luck. No woman had chosen to try on the boot nor had anyone managed to fit their foot comfortably into one of Road's dainty shoes, no matter how much they tried. The forlorn sobs of the rejected women were heard throughout the day and the prince with two of the king's advisers trudged on, occasionally forced to pull of a desperate maiden from their frustrated prince. With a deep sigh the prince decided to call it a day and head back to the palace, the sun beginning to set in the sky.
The next day the prince was feeling a little more optimistic then the night before, until he found out Prince Tyki had decided to come along for the ride, even though he made sure to point out just how tedious and awful the task was all through breakfast. But he could not be undeterred and with an amused smile he joyfully joined Allen's entourage for the day.
As could only be expected the morning was wrought with failure and more crying women. Allen only wished that Tyki would be less obvious when he was laughing at him, although his presence seemed to stem the tide of tears somewhat. It was also becoming quickly apparent that Tyki had decided to join his brother's crew not only to laugh at his brother but out of an obtuse fascination with how the women attempted to crush their feet into a shoe that was obviously too small. A fascination that even remained after one woman tried to cut off her big toe and her equally crazy sister tried to cut off her heel while their mother urged them on.
Happy to escape the mad house and feeling a little bit queasy they entered the next house and were met at the door by a glaring, slightly out of breath, dark haired young man, who emphatically tried to barricade the door with his body.
"You shall not pass!" the man declared and his audience stared back in shock.
"Uh, we mean you no harm?" Allen said, his voice conveying his confusion.
"Don't lie to me; I was in town this morning I heard your nefarious plans and rushed home straight away!" The man stepped forward out of the doorway and closed the door behind him while the palace entourage stepped back worriedly.
"Then you've heard the king's decree. We would like to know if there are any single ladies in this household and if they would be willing to try on a shoe. If they are successful our Prince (the one with the white hair) will take her hand in marriage and she will be well looked after in the palace." The king's best adviser stepped forward to explain the situation, hoping that maybe the man in front of him was just a little confused.
"He will do nothing of the sort!" the man exclaimed.
"So is there any young lady living here? The adviser asked hesitantly, unsure if he should even ask.
"No, none of the sort, I've never even seen a young woman before, only old, butch men live here, now be gone!" the man cried out waving his hands as he gestured for them to leave.
"Then we're sorry to have bothered you, have a good—" The adviser said eager to turn around and leave the estate but his farewell was cut off when the door was suddenly wrenched open and in the doorway stood a beautiful young woman with long black hair and fair skin.
"Brother, there is someone here with an invoice for all the vegetables you ordered a few days ago." she said to the man and upon noticing the crowd of men at her door bobbed a quick curtsy. "Oh, hello."
"Lenalee! Why don't you go back inside I'm coming in right now." The man said almost desperately trying to get the woman to return inside, but she resisted with a stern look and he watched powerless as she talked to the king's adviser.
"I hope my brother has been able to help you?" Lenalee politely asked the adviser closest to the front.
"Ah, well, the king has declared that whoever fits the correct shoe will become Prince Allen's bride, therefore we are asking women all across the land if they would be willing to try on the shoe. If you be so kind would you mind trying? It has been a royal order that we get every woman to try and so far no one has refused." The adviser spoke up again, surprised at the new addition.
"Well, I wouldn't really like to be married to someone I don't know and you're probably a very nice person." She said directly to the prince before turning back to the adviser. "But I suppose if it's a royal order I wouldn't want to get you in trouble, won't you come inside?" Lenalee smiled welcoming the men into the house and her brother grudgingly stepped aside to let them enter, although he glared at them with everything he was worth.
Through the house they followed the woman, her brother bringing up the rear, until the came to what was obviously the drawing room and she gestured for them to take a seat. The two princes sat down on opposite chairs but the advisers and the guards chose to remain standing. Noticing his cue one guard stepped forward with a regal looking box and placed it carefully on the table and opened the lid, the princes barely paying attention having seen this process many times before.
"There are two stages to the test, first would you pick the shoe from the box that you think most befits a princess." One of the advisers spoke, gesturing for Lenalee to approach the box. Nodding her understanding she walked to the box and peered inside.
Only two shoes lay inside the box and she lifted them out, one in each hand to take a closer look. One was a very pretty glass slipper, decorated with precious gems that glimmered blindingly in the sun, too small for an adult woman's foot; the other shoe was actually a boot, black, encrusted with dirt and too large for the average woman's foot. The choice was obvious, but Lenalee would never have a chance to pick because right at that moment an angry voice cut across the room and a young, dark-haired man abruptly entered the room.
"What the hell, I just want you to take this damn invoice, what are you—That's my boot!" Distracted from his purpose the young man stomped his way over to Lenalee and rudely grabbed the boot out of her left hand. Immediately Prince Allen jumped to his feet, anxiously looking at the interloper.
"That's your boot?" Allen shouted out unceremoniously and it was at that point that Kanda finally took a moment to notice who the other occupants were in the room. Cursing to himself Kanda attempted to run out the door.
"Not again. Guards!" At Allen's shout Kanda found his escape blocked and he glared angrily at the younger prince. Everyone else was looking expectantly at Allen, waiting for him to make the next move.
"Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?" Allen blurted out awkwardly, not knowing what else to do.
"I'm a man you idiot." Kanda spat out and Tyki sniggered unapologetically. Grimacing Allen was still very aware of his audience and came to a quick decision on what he would do next. He grabbed Kanda's arm and barged past the guards, signalling for them to stay behind. Retracing his steps into the house Allen guided them back outside the house, releasing Kanda's arm only when he had closed the door and was sure that no one had followed them.
"I danced with you, at the ball, I did dance with you?" Allen asked anxiously, studying the man in front of him. There were definite similarities between the woman he had danced with and the man now clutching the forgotten boot.
"Che." Kanda scowled, but this was lost on Allen who felt like a burden had been lifted from his shoulders and a tender smile slowly emerged on his face.
"I still like you." Allen moved closer to Kanda, drawing their faces near.
"What?" Kanda screwed his face up in confusion and Allen moved in even closer. Caught in Allen's gaze Kanda could feel the other man's breath on his face.
"And maybe you like me a little bit too." The prince tilted his face and the gap between their lips almost disappeared, Kanda's eyes slowly closing shut against his will. But with a jolt Kanda abruptly drew back.
"I won't marry you." Kanda stated gruffly.
"Why not?" Allen cried out feeling cheated out of their first kiss when he'd been so close.
"I'm going to get into the army and then work my way up to the royal elite force."
"But if you marry me you can enter straight into the royal elite, with a bit of training of course." Kanda's eyes went wide with understanding and he carefully thought over the new enticement. Allen smiled, knowing that he had just won that battle.
"Well if you've got no more objections I declare that by the end of the week we shall be man and man-wife!" Kanda glared at his soon to be husband but the prince paid him no heed moving in to claim his hard earned kiss.