Hazel was never known as a rough young lady. She was fragile and always wore a tender smile on her freckled face, her incureable sickness something that was widely known through Mayfair. Many felt for her but most were surprised that she had survived something so deadly for longer than what the doctor had anticipated. In truth, many saw her as a fragile young girl who needed help. However, Daniel was unable to breath, feeling as though his guts would spill all over the floor.

"Just hold still and this won't hurt as much, brother." Her voice was almost sickeningly sweet and he swallowed loudly, sweat damp on his forehead and neck.

"It...hurts..." She tightened the corset more, making him gag and nearly keel over as his vision spun.

"Stop being a big baby about it and deal with it. You've got to find that artifact, yes?" Finally, she began tying but tightened the strings a few times. Daniel could hardly breathed and felt as if he was blue in the face.

"Y-Yes," Daniel answered, "b-but...is becoming a woman necessary!" The female sighed heavily with a grunt of irritation before the dark green corset was finally in place.

"Yes considering the owner of the palace itself is a male with perhaps as much money as a King. And there. Now go to the bathroom. Your dress should already be in there."

Sighing reluctantly, even though there was hardly any breath in his lungs at all, he walked on in. Closing the door behind him, he was hesitant as he turned around to see the emerald and gold-laced dress. In truth, it really was beautiful but...only on woman. However, the male would have to get rid of his rough nature of manhood and fit in as best as possible into a Masquerade Ball.

Beginning to remove his pants, fingertips prying the button off and the zipper down, he began to wonder if what he was doing was alright. A stolen artifact was something worthwhile for any salesperson or an archeologist like himself to find and something like this was quite rare.

It was a necklace of diamond, gold and even fragile ruby that was said to gleam like polished glass. This was a treasure known for royalty to use and having heard that a valuable like that was in a pair of wrong hands, Daniel couldn't help but want to investigate. Hazel helped him figure out a decision...and he wasn't sure if he wanted to regret or not.

Moving stiffly because of the tight corset, he felt all the air leave his lungs as he struggled to even bend down to grab the dress off the edge of the small yet white bath. "By God, how do women even move with these on?" he asked himself, panting softly. Picking the soft clothing up by the shoulders, he examined it before beginning to put it on. It was simple.

The skirt of the dress was nicely fluffed out, the hem laced with fine fabric that beheld the color of polished gold. Emerald practically covered almost every inch of the dress itself aside the edges of the elbow-length sleeves and the small v at the base of the collarbone. Daniel couldn't help but admit that it was very nicely made, even as he struggled to fit under the many layers and tiny waist. Thanks to the tight corset, it was a success and the male was actually quite stunning.

Already having received a bit more of the feminine looks by natural development, something he questioned, it made him seem quite delicate. His hands soon, questioningly, smoothed down the front of the dress to knead the wrinkles and such out of the fabric.

Blinking a few times, Daniel raised his hands to his face, examining each finger and how there wasn't a single callus on his fingers or palms. They were far different from Alexander's.

He shuddered instinctively and wrapped his arms around himself, rubbing them slowly for some sort of protection. The male could still remember the baritone voice that could make his stomach flip, the callused fingers on the curve of his neck to help him relax during a Warding Ritual and the silver hair that always found a way to brush his neck or cheekbones. And the gaze of the yellow eyes still made him weak-kneed from fear, making him feel so...defenseless. Those eyes...had been the last thing that disappeared when the portal faded.

Daniel licked his lips and jumped when his sister's voice split through his mind. "Did you suffocate, Daniel?" He wasn't sure if she was worried, playful or both. The Englishman sighed before he poked his head out from the door, cheeks suddenly flushed.

But from memory or embarrassment?

Seeing him from her spot on the bed, the girl gave a giggle behind her hand and it increased a bit as he stepped out from behind the door. His cheeks flushed more.

"W-What's so funny?" With a finger, she pointed downwards and motioned for him to turn around. With a confused expression, he obeyed to reveal the unlaced back of the dress. Unknowing to Daniel, it wasn't long before the sudden and taut pull of the strings made him relive the earlier nightmare of putting on the green corset.

As Hazel focused on the strings, Daniel set his mind to the mission he had set for himself. The owner lived nearby, perhaps only one more town from here and the Masquerade ball was in two days. He would have to travel by carriage with the help of a driver but he knew no one. Luck would have to be with him for the time being. And the artifact, he had only seen it once and whoever had it now was powerful. He would have to be careful.

"Ow!" The word was ripped from his throat as his sister suddenly tugged on his hair, forcing his head back and his neck to be exposed.

"We're not keeping this hair of yours down! At least attempt to look like a woman of maturity with somewhat prepped up hair." He rolled his eyes and couldn't help but faintly imagine of Alexander's hand gripping his hair, soft lips running up his neck and butterfly kisses being applied along his jawline before-

No, what the hell are you thinking, Daniel! As he mentally scolded himself, he flinched at his sister's handy work. Alexander is dead, gone. There's no reason to be thinking of this...ugh!

Blinking harshly, Daniel impatiently asked if she was done yet and with a sigh, she nodded. Touching the throbbing spots on his scalp, he found a fake yet soft rose clip of white in his hair.

"Now, I'll be right back. I'll go ahead and get your shoes, fan, mask and~ make-up!" Giving a grin that made him sweatdrop nervously, she hurried off with a giggle. Rolling his eyes, Daniel soon decided to take the time to look in a mirror, forcing himself to daintily pick up the many layers of the dress as he walked.

"Roses..." The word left his lips before he could even comprehend them. Green eyes now focused on the white roses that were neatly clipped into his hair, his smooth fingers caressed the petals and he felt a flashback enter his mind.

It was back at the Brennenburg castle.

The curious Englishman had snuck his way into the baron's bedroom, knowing the male was busy with his servants and the dungeons below. It was beautiful, relaxing and quite comfortable, even just by looking. Half-way melted candles left the lingering taste of warm cinnamon tea in the back of his mouth as they surrounded the bed, window and his desk. Everywhere you would look, there was red, scarlet and crimson, from the carpet, to the walls, to the bed and even the cushions of the armchair he sat in when he felt like lighting the fireplace. The only thing there were grey, fine ashes now.

Keeping his steps light, the male wandered with the dangerous curiosity of a lost child. As thunder sudden roared from outside, he gave a delicate squeak and jumped back, hips knocking into a nearby table.

The noticeable clink made him spin around and grab a finely made vase of light red, water sloshing within it and the single red rose tilting a bit. Daniel breathed softly through quivering lips before he let it sit back upright.

Too close...way too damn close. Having wanted to move the flower back into its proper spot with care, he soon yelped as the thorns pricked his fingertips. Drawing his hand back, he looked at his fingertips to see blood well up and slowly begin to drip from the cuts. The color stood out on his pale skin.

"I told you not to mess with sharp-thorned roses, Daniel." Whispering in his ear with the sly intent of a hunting fox, Alexander of Brennenburg gave a chuckle.

Shuddering softly, Daniel looked up and his eyes widened at the sadistic glint in the man's eyes. Opening his mouth to ask a question, Daniel's words were left unspoken as Alexander set a rough finger on his parted lips.

"Hush. I'll go get a wet cloth and we'll wipe up that little mess." Lips brushing the shell of Daniel's ear, he left, silver hair swaying behind him and licking the Englishman's neck.

Once he was gone, Daniel let out a breath, his stomach turning inside out. ...Had he just been...seduced?

...

Cheeks flushed once more, Daniel ran a hand over his neck and shuddered. Did I...actually...e-

"Get over here!" And he was dragged away from the mirror, his eyes widening in surprise. For a sick girl, this one wasn't exactly...weak. "Stop daydreaming and let's get to work." Already, he knew this was going to be hell.


Luck was on his side after all. Picking up his skirts, the Englishman stepped onto the carriage steps and proceeded to enter and sit with the 3-hour practiced grace. It was total pain. Every part of him ached from having attempted so many times to stand in heels, walking with his chin high but what was the worst was the curtsey's. After this was over, he wouldn't go near a dress for the rest of his life.

Finding a carriage wasn't that hard, lucky for them. A man had been willing, having been drunk and stumbled just outside. Daniel had taken the opportunity to ask once he had been sober enough and...God was apparently seeing his torture.

Seeing his sister waving frantically from the window, he waved back at her, a soft smile on his lips. ...He couldn't help but know she would fight her disease, incurable or not.

With a sudden lurch, the male felt the carriage move and it wasn't long before his house was out of sight. He sighed and relaxed, murmuring, "Masquerade Ball, here I come."