Chapter One

"Oh…" Felicità felt her face burn as she stomped through some brush, her heels more hindering her than helping, and she regretted being harsh enough with Fukulota to chase her away. It was dark and cold –not that it bothered her- and she could hardly navigate through all the dense brush by herself. It on her dark work clothes and snagged her long hair with branches and the odd bramble clinging to one of Regalo's beautiful trees.

Felicità was tired, and hungry, and she didn't feel worth very much of anything anymore.

"Milady!" Luka whispered harshly, looking around the corridor anxiously. "What are you doing up and dressed at this hour? Is something wrong?" Felicità looked down at her hands, feeling silly for letting Jolly's cryptic words shake her confidence, and felt a heat rise in her cheeks.

"Luka…" She whispered, swallowing around the lump rising in her throat. "may I stay here tonight? W-With you? I don't-" Luka interrupted her:

"Milady," He said seriously, "as your valet, I am to look after you, but here I draw the line on what is appropriate. Please return to your own room."

"But Jolly's story…" And then, to add insult to injury, her faithful servant closed his door on her. Felicità looked down at her toes, checked for any sign of another person, and crept back to her chambers. She resolved to leave the main house and go sleep in her old house tonight; perhaps there she could get away from Jolly's moaning spectre. She quickly pulled on her boots, stocking her knives back into their belt, and used her wide window as a convenient escape from the haunting quality of the house.

Suddenly, Felicità could see a light behind her and she cursed herself for being so slow and clumsy in the woods. She hadn't thought that leaving would be easy, but she hadn't even considered that there might be alarms that would key the security that people had left or entered the mansion. She could hear a low rumble in the distance –was Dante awake?- and she flinched when her name carried on the wind frantically.

Felicità kicked off her boots, grabbing one in each hand, and she picked up her pace with an occasional wince when she put her foot on something harsh. She refused to go back to the mansion house tonight –refused to be humiliated by facing her servant in the light- and rejoiced when she stumbled out the trees near the town.

'Perfect!' She thought gratefully, pulling on her boots again as she surveyed her surroundings and set off toward the busiest part of town. She could get lost in the crowds, maybe find a dark place to sit and lick her wounded pride, and she knew she would need to fix her appearance from tramping through the woods. Ducking into an alley, she paused within the shadow of the buildings and did just that, failing to correct her pigtails and eventually letting her hair hang loose.

"Princess?!" Felicità jumped when Libertà's voice rang out in the cheery city street and disrupted the nightlife bustling about. She ducked down, barely making it out of sight before the blond teen ran by with a silent Nova at his side. Her cousin glanced into the alley, his eyes clashing with hers in a way that made Felicità flinch, but he didn't see her and kept moving.

She went in the other direction, trying to keep to the shadows and maintain her speed. Where could she hide?! Everyone in the family would be looking for- Suddenly, Felicità collided with something she couldn't see.

"Ciao, Bambina," Drawled a familiar voice, "isn't it a bit late for a stroll?" Felicità shook herself lightly, watching as Debito's invisibility melted away and revealed the Hermit Tarocco's smug smirk; she was suddenly conscious of the supporting arm around her back.

"No," She claimed quickly, moving back into her own personal bubble and away from the arm. She didn't want to be cuddled and coddled anymore, not now that Jolly's story had caused her so much grief by giving her that very desire, and she knew Debito would just pet her like a child. "it's a perfectly fine time. I like walking alone at night."

"With your hair down?" Prodded Debito, managing to snag a strand and press it to his lips. "Although I must say the look suits you," Felicità felt her face heat lightly as the gold-eyed man sent her a smouldering look and released the red lock of hair, "everyone is looking for you, Bambina. Luka is-"

"I don't care about Luka!" Felicità snapped suddenly, stiffening and fisting her hands at her sides. "He's the reason I'm-" She checked herself suddenly when she saw Debito's silver eyebrows rise in surprise and looked away, ashamed to have lost control of herself in front of the Coins head. She heard someone call for her again and checked over her shoulder anxiously; she was stuck between a Coin and a search party!

"So, Luka's the reason Bambina is out so late…" Debito murmured, drawing close and placing a hand on her arm, "what did that stuffed shirt do now?" She looked up at him, unnerved by how quickly her emotions were besting her, and swallowed as she tried to go around him. "Hey, hey, hey- I hate to see a singorina cry." She felt the grip on her arm halt her and she tugged once at his grip to test it; she was stuck unless she fought him. "What's your hurry?"

"I need to hide." Felicità told him sternly, not facing him directly, "I don't want to be found." She swallowed around a lump rising in her throat again and glanced at him with pleading eyes. "Please, Debito, say you never saw me." She tugged again, more firmly this time, and bit her lip: "Please, help me hide."