- The Third Chapter -

Deep in Thought

I wonder what's going on.
There seems to be something wrong around these parts...
But I can't seem to make out what it exactly is.
Oh well, I'm just here to enjoy the celebration, so-

"Hey Sophia!"

A startled Sophia was cut off by her friend while she was deep in thought. Almost falling out of her chair, she unconsciously held on her other friend to help herself up. Both of her friends were confused since they've known her as the type who's focused on everything she does, always on the right frame of mind whenever they see her. This time, however, they noticed her being distracted for a while now...

After fixing herself in place, Sophia gave a reassuring smile. "F-forgive me about that..."

"You seem to be thinking about something so deeply. Is something the matter?"

"No, I'm completely fine, thank you."

"Aww, I'm sure you aren't. Is it about the duke's son?"

With her friend having a really precise wild guess about the reason for her uneasiness, she was again taken aback, though she tried hard not to make them notice this gesture and maintained her calm. Fortunately for Sophia, it worked. She answered back, though she kept her reasons to herself, since they might have meant something else...

"You could say that. You should have known ever since you brought me here with you..."

"Don't worry, there's a lot of people here in the party, so it's near-impossible for you to get chosen by Duke Anthony!"

The other friend retorted, "But still, if it's near-impossible, then there's still a chance for Sophia to be chosen, am I wrong?"

A few seconds of silence accompanied the statement. For Sophia, she gave a sigh of relief to herself, since her friends thought she was talking about that night's event with the royalty, and not that she noticed the young duke-to-be giving off an unusual aura. At the other hand, the two girls took Sophia's reason for her gesture as being burdened with the risk of being chosen. The idea of the situation occurring into the near future sank into the friends' systems... which caused them to feel guilty for dragging Sophia into their own desires. However, the silence broke when they saw ladies creating a commotion on the dance floor.

They seem to be rushing for something... or maybe fighting over it, whatever it may be. It was really hard to see with all these girls rambling and bumping into each other. It was even hard to hear what they were saying with all of these people screaming so loudly at the same time. For a second though, one of the friends, the one who told the group that there's a chance that Sophia may get chosen by the duke's son, saw what was caught up in the fuss.

"Hey, you two!," she exclaimed, pointing at the source of the commotion, "I know now what's behind all that chaos!"

As she heard this, the young lady, remembering what caught her attention earlier, shifted her sight back to where Duke Anthony was. Much to her surprise, he wasn't there anymore. "Maybe he's..."

The chaos continued. It only got worse, with these overly-eager girls pulling each other out just to get nearer to the center. They were seem to be playing a variant of the game "Tug of War" judging from their violent pulling from all directions. This went on and on, until...

"Just listen to me, will you, ladies?! I COMMAND YOU TO STOP, RIGHT NOW!"

A loud shout echoed in the hall. It sounded like it was full of anger, frustration, agony... Somehow like the one who made the sound was mad at the world. In an instant, the group of girls, struck with terror, backed away and fell in line, looking really orderly in contrast to their behavior a little while back. This clearly revealed the reason why they were causing such an uproar: a young man standing still in place, hiding his pale face from embarrassment. The group of friends were right in what they saw.

"Ah, you were right. So it was Duke Anthony! With some, uhh, crazy company with him..."

"No wonder he shouted at them. Can't blame him since I would be as annoyed as him if I were in his shoes." The first one who brought up the whole topic with him earlier with Sophia only scratched her head, seeing the majority's behavior with the young duke. She couldn't help but put in a side comment though. "...but I can now see why they go head-over-heels for him. I can't deny the fact that he looks... quite handsome. Hee hee."

A pair of green eyes focused on the scene. Sophia talked to herself again in her mind, taking account what recently happened. "I think I understand now why he acted that way earlier, why he seemed to be so problematic. And my, that line's so long! No wonder this night would be even more stressful for him."

Recovering from his reaction completely uncalled for (for someone with a high status like him), the young duke then started to escort one of the overly-eager girls to the dance floor.

And so, this marked the start of the night's main event.

Even though guilty for falling in line and also leaving their good friend behind at the same time, Sophia's two friends went on to take the chance to dance with the duke's son, since they thought it would be a big chance wasted if they missed out. Luckily, they got to get in the queue when only half the venue's current female population was in it. The young lady understood their intentions, and quickly encouraged them to get in line. After all, she had no intention of joining in the event in the first place, so she wouldn't feel bad about not getting to dance. To occupy herself while waiting, she walked around the place.

After several minutes, she felt kinda thirsty, so she kindly asked for a glass of juice from one of the servers at the buffet table, who gladly served her. She drank some of it while she turned around, and smiled when she saw one of her friends already dancing with Duke Anthony.

"Wow, they look great! But there still seems to be something wrong with him. He looks... too serious? Or maybe he's just like that. And I wonder why my friend's smiling that way; it's nothing like her to smile so forcefully. I think she's just nervous..." Since her other friend was next in line, she continued to observe as she asked for another glass from the server. Of course, the server was willing to give her another since he appreciated Sophia's kind treatment towards him.

"She's trying to talk to the duke's son, but somehow, he seems to avoid talking so much, seeing his reaction. My friend seems to feel awkward then..." After feeling a sense of satisfaction drinking some juice, she returned the glass to the generous server, thanked him and proceeded to reunite with her friends, just after they got their turn. Suddenly though, people got in the way, causing that side of the hall to be crowded. She didn't have an idea what caused this, but this made her lose sight of her friends. Sophia waited a few minutes for everyone to settle down; however, when she tried to find her companions again, they were nowhere to be seen. She searched around the hall and examined the dancers in the dance floor, but to no avail.

"Maybe they thought I already went home because of my curfew, since they couldn't see me. It can't be helped, then..." She just returned to their table and sat down to rest herself from all the soul-searching she had to do.

Her friends leaving her alone in the place made her feel a bit of sorrow, since it never occurred to her before. They had this rule among themselves where they wouldn't go on anywhere even if just one of them is missing. She wanted to go home around the time her curfew would be up, but it was still half an hour before that time comes. Also, her father, being overprotective over his daughters, didn't want anyone of his children to go home without someone with them. Now, this is going to be quite a problem for her, isn't it?

Now, deep in thought again for what she plans to do for the next thirty minutes, Sophia kept quiet in place, head facing the table and a bit tilted downwards, staring at the floor with anxiety and sorrow in her heart...

...until someone approached her table, and talked to her. It was a gentle voice, with weariness from the event evident in its tone, yet so enthusiastic and cheerful, seemingly trying to hide its tiredness just so the young lady wouldn't worry.

"Good evening, Miss. How are you enjoying the night so far?"

"A-Ah!" Sophia gave off the same reaction as with her friend earlier. She was startled yet again, and when she was deep in thought too! "Oh goodness, I did it again... Come on Sophia, fix yourself! You can't act like this around other people, now, it's embarra-"

Her words were cut off upon looking at the other person... It was someone whom she never expected to see. The one she didn't want to risk to meet, and that is...

"D-Duke Anthony Herzen?!"

I guess drawing a lot can help me focus here, huh... I'm out of ideas on what to draw now. So ironic! I may as well focus on this more from now on since I'll need to refer on my fanfics for the storybook I'm currently finalizing :)

At least this is catching up with the other side of the story. Coincidentally, the main event in the other fic's fourth chapter will be the same with here next chapter... I typed this one up within a day, so maybe it means that I'm inspired to do it now? To be honest I was supposed to work on my essay last night instead of this, but it can't be helped.

Oh, before I forget, you could read Anton's side of the story too for some stuff to make more sense. And seeing the references are cool too, hehe. XD

Anyway, I just don't know what's up with irony recently for me... I dunno, I just love it. I typed up something about an ironic love story (which is related to DB), made a drawing about it, and now it's even evident in the whole chapter. Coincidentally, they are all related to DB, or should I say, our main characters for these stories. LOL

I'll try to work on the next chapter (definitely one of the highlights of the story) as soon as possible, so see you! :D