Vincent had once again abondened me by my lonesome and disappeared somewhere in the ballroom. This wouldn't bother me that much if I wasn't impatiently waiting for Princess Zigra to show up already.
Showing the princess around the Castle wasn't long and boring as it had been with every lady who had begged me to give them a tour.
Maybe it was how effortless it was she made it to keep the conversation flowing. It came of quite a surprise to me that she actually understood everything I told her about sword fighting manures, almost like she was a fighter herself - but I didn't think such a delicate lady would learn something as hard learning as sword fighting.
Anyway, I had enjoyed being in her company so much, I invited her to have lunch with me and Vincent. I was pleasently surprised to note that even he could keep a conversation going with her. Usual it was the lady doing all she could to keep his attention on her and him trying his best to extract himself from the conversation.
After lunch I volunteered to show her around the gardens and had pointed out a nature trail she could take if she ever felt stuffed into the Castle and wanted to escape the confines of the Castle for a while. I even introduced her to Rousse - who seemed smitten with her.
Rousse letting her touch him was surprising enough without him being smitten with her. I swear that horse hated anyone besides me, Vince and Mark touching him. There are times he wouldn't let even Patch touch him no matter how many perppermint or sugar cubes the man gives him. He was spoilt rotten that way. So you can understand my surprise that he seemed quite taken with Princess Zigra.
Then a servant fetched Zigra to go get ready for the ball and since then I had yet to see her. It's been almost half an hour since the ball started and she was yet to make an appearence.
"Prince Vasilios!" My attention was diverted from the door for the millionth time tonight as another mother wishing to marry her daughter off to me bowed lowly to me.
"Evening my ladies." I greeted with a smile as I turned away from the grand staricase and looked at the two ladies. "How are you enjoying the ball this evening?" I questioned, not even pretending to flirt with Lady Melissa . It wouldn't be worth the effort.
"It's great as I told your mother. She did a wonderful job." Lady Nettara said, looking around at the decorations for emphasis.
I nodded my head with a pleasent smile as my eyes strayed back to the staircase waiting for a certain dark haired princess.
"Are you waiting for someone your highness? You keep looking at the entrance." Lady Nettara asked me point blank as she too looked in the direction I was looking.
Well, there was no point in lying after being caught looking for someone.
"Are you possibly looking for Sir Dwayne? I haven't seen him in the ball at all. Is he not attending?" Lady Melissa asked me before I could answer her mother, giving me an easy way out without explaining myself. Her eyes swept along the room, trying to find my beat friend to no avail - for if he didn't want to be found, she wouldn't find him.
"Hmm... he does seem to be missing, isn't he?" I asked, playing along with her and discreetly throwing another glance at the entrance for any sign of Princess Zigra. Exactly how long does it take for a lady to change into formal wear? This was taking insanely too long.
Seeing no sign of her descending down, I turned my attention back to Lady Melissa and her mother, forcing an easy-going smile into his lips.
Just then I caught a sight that truly took me by surprise.
As if it wasn't surprising enough that Vincent wasn't hiding in some dark corner, watching over me and the ongoing party viligantly, he just had to be talking on his own free will with a lady. I couldn't see who it was, just glimpses of her finger dress when the man covering shifted his weight to his other foot. Even more surprising, he seemed almost content talking to her. Not at all skittish - like he'd give anything to escape form her clutches.
Staring at the pair I missed whatever Lady Melissa replied to me with. At least by until she loudly laughed. Having no idea why she was forcing herself to laughed, I chuckled with her. Then noticed Lady Nettara's grim face and thought better to stop before embarassing myself.
"While it was nice to see you two fine, lovely ladies, I really need to go find Vincent. Enjoy the gala." With a nod of my head to them I hurried towards where I had seen him talking to an unknown lady.
"Oh give him my -" Lady Melissa called after me, but the rest of her sentence was drowned out by the music and me diving head first into the crowd. I hurried past every lady who's intent was to chat up with me, hoping for a dance and a future proposal of marriage. I was too curious to find mouth this mystery lady who was chatting up with Vincent, to care about seeming rude.
Except, when I got to where I last saw him, neither he nor the ginger gowned lady were anywhere to be seemed.
Confused a strayed off a little to the side, when I suddenly felt a hand wrap around my elbow and pull me to the side. I was grateful I hadn't shouted and gained attention when I looked sharply to the side to find a smirking Vincent, his hand still on my elbow.
"Damn it Vince, you almost gave me a heart attack thinking someone was kidnapping me or something." I cursed, straightening up and re-adjusing my coat, fixing it perfectly.
"Watch the cursing Leo, we have a lady with us." Vincent warned me off lightly, but I didn't think he was being serious. Him disappearing had made me think that maybe he wasn't uncomfortable talking to that mysterious lady because she hadn't been onto him and it was merely a coincidence.
"I've heard worse." The voice of Princess Zigra came from my right, her tone a monotonous as it usually is.
Startled, I looked to the side to see the lady I had been desperately finding for casually leaning against the wall in the shadows of a huge banner holding the crest of Menalas - on of the any guests invited for my birthday gala. She didn't look away frokm the ballroom as she answered me, sipping from the wine glass she had in her hand with detachment and no interest at all.
Actually her face was so expressionless I couldn't be sure if she wanted to dance or not.
Then I noticed what she was wearing. Or more specifically, the color of her gown. Ginger.
This couldn't be a coincidence.
My heart gave a jolt at this discovery and I tried to tell myself that this was because she looked so beautiful - other worldly - in her ginger gone and not because she seemed to be so comfortable around Vincent and view versa. I knew better than anyone that Vince wouldn't betray me like that.
But if he truly liked Zigra - which would be a miracle on it's own - could I really stand in the way of my only friends happiness? The guy desereved much more than what we gave him and he most certainly deserved happiness.
I didn't know.
And that hurt. I didn't know if I could give up Zigra if he indeed had feeling for her. She is the only lady I've met who could actually hold my attention and not react to my playful flirting. While I hadn't thought much if this, I realised, standing there, it had been a nice change.
Vincent discreetly cleared his throat and I realised that I had been staring a moment too long and should probably say something back in answer to her statement. Even strange, Zigra didn't look away from the ballroom and at us even when Vincent cleared his throat. Did she have coat curiousity what-so-ever? How does she keep such an expressionless face all the time.
No, how did she become so apathic.
For that is what she is. Apathic. Detaches. Uninvolved. Any sane person would wonder why she was so apathic like this. I should ask Vince, I'm sure he'd have a little more insight than me. He was more perspecive that way.
"Princess Zigra, sorry, I didn't see you there." I said, recovering myself thankx to Vincent. I gave her a charming smile that had ladies falling over themselves to please me and do whatever I wanted them to. Only, it was completely and utterly wasted on Zigra. She didn't so much as glance at me as she nodded her head, holding her glass slightly up in an 'apology accepted' way.
"So what are the two of you doing here? Not enjoying the gala?" The last part was directly addressed at the princess, since I already knew Vincent hated these events.
"It appears Princess Zigra hates social events as much as myself." Vincent answered for the princess when she slowly fire her gaze from the ballroom to look at me at my question. She took her sweet time to do so, her face so blank that she didn't even look bored.
I raised my eyebrows at Vincent , wondering how he knew so. I know he made a habit of taking into account everyones backgrounds - especially those who attend these events my mother always loves to throw. It just didn't seem like the thing he would be researching when looking into peoples backgrunds.
"Or so she says." He added like he was taking his leisurly time finishing his sentence.
I looked at Zigra, besides blinking at me and a barely lifted shoulder shrug before she turned her attention back to the ball, silently sipping her wine.
Now I understood why Vincent preffered her presence to that of most ladies. She was just like him. A perfect lady, sure, but also silently observant and found no point in making idle chatter - mainly gossip. Vince was the same when in the presence of anyone besides me - even with my father, whom he respected greatly.
Even Zigra stance and easy lookong posture spoke that this wasn't the first time she had blended into the background watching everything going on around her with a viligant eye, but not taking part in any of it. Onyl she had a slightly detached quality to her paying attention, ulike Vince who payed attentioin because he had to make sure no one threatened the royal families life.
I watched her for another moment, taking in her beauty again, not caring that Vince was seeing me outrigh checking her out. Of she felt my gaze on her, she didn't let it show.
Her ginger gown didn't really cling to her like a second skin. Except for the bodice of her gown which fit her perfectly, but not skin tight that left little to the imagination. And once again, no cleavage showed, instead her gown had a collar that disappeared into her ringlets of hair that had been let to fall in a graceful waterfall down her back, down her thin hips and flaring out hips, from where her skirt of her gown flared out and swept the floor. Her sleeves were once again long and the hems touched her wrist, leaving everything for the imagination.
A pause followed, where Zigra and Vince stared off into the crowd and I watched the two. There was just something about the way they were acting so comfortably around each other. I'd know, as Zigra wasn't this relaxed when I showed her around the Castle.
Not knowing what else to do, I leaned next to Vince and watched the ball from a far for the first time in my life. I don't know why, but for some reason, maybe since I was supposed to be courting her and she wasn't reacting to any of my advances, I wasn't interested dancing away the night with anyone but this fair lady next to Vincent.
I noticed both Vincent and Zigra toying with their empty glasses, when suddenly both of them - simultaniously - started forward as a waiter - holding a tray of wine glasess - headed across where we were standing.
For anyone else this would have looked planned as both straightened and started towards the waiter at the same time, in unison. Almost like they had received a cue and were acting on it. Especially as neither stopped when the one followed the other step to step.
The only reason I could tell this wasn't choreographed was because of the way they briefly shared a look. Vincent's questioning whereas Zigra's was plain blank as ever.
However at the waiter the twos direction changed. Vince exchanged his glass whereas Zigra placed her glass n the tray and continued on. I could tell Vincent's questioning gaze follow her as well.
Not very very far from where we all had been standing, her softly voice called, "Lord Blurkley!" Making a man to stop and look back at who had called him.
He was a man who was clearly in his mid-thirties, with salt and pepper hair and a rather tan skin. He had a good build, but nothing that would impress. And when his eyes landed on the dark haired princess whether had called out to him, he smiled gently, laugh wrinkles appearing around his display black eyes.
Still, Zigra didn't hurry her pace, she walked in the same slow pace era for a lady, no hurry in her step as she walked over to the man. The moment she was within arms length, the man said somethjing pulling her intoi a fatherly embrace.
She hugged him back briefly before gently pulling away.
Zigra's didn't so much as smile at the man who was beaming at her, but she was talking to the man for quite awhile.
I noticed Vincent watching the exchange for a moment too longer than he usually paid attention to other ladies, before he joined me back in the shadows of the banner we were all previously standing under. The two of us silently watched her talking to the man - Lord Blurkley - before he asked her to dance and she accepted.
"There goes your chance. You know, you could have just asked her to dance instead of oogling her. I don't think she'd have said 'no'." Vincent told to me conversationally as we watched Lord Blurkley take Zigra to the dance floor.
"Oh yeah! What about you then?" I shot back, not looking away from Zigra's form gracefully gracing the dance floor. This gained Vincent's attention as he looked at me surprised. "I notice the at you pay attention to her Vince. She's the only lady I know that you seem to be comfortable around with and not to mention, you make an effort to be nice to her. Oh, and you keep talking to her out of your own free will. Not because the lady is striking up a conversation or because I'm making you to."
Vincent rolled his eyes heavenwards at my words.
"Did it never occur to you that I was making an effort to be nice to her only because you're mother wants you to marry her?" He asked me sarcastically, looking back at the ballroom and looking like he was having the most boringest conversation he ever had. Also, like he wanted to hide away in peace again - somewhere I'm not there.
"And yes, Leo, I do feel comfortable around the princess. She isn't one for idle chatter, it's always easy to keep a conversation flowing with her because she actually knows what she is speaking about. And talking to her out of my own free will. Let's just say that I don't have anything against any lady. She's different only because she doesn't try to get in my pants everytime I strike a conversation with her. If anything she is as disinterested as me and that helps." He went on answering the rest of my accusation with something.
The last part was a hint of him not liking her in that overly friendly way and for me to not get any ideas.
We fell silent again, Vince watching the ongoings of the gala and me contemplating whether it was okay to piano the subject or it was beat left alone.
I decided on the latter, I didn't have enough to prove what I was telling him and truthfully, I believed everything he said. Or he beileved everything he said so I took it to be true.
Turnin back to watch Zigra, I just then remembered the request she had asked me while we had been around the Castle.
"Ah, that's right Vince, Zigra asked me something while inwas showing her around. I said I'd ask you and have an answer for her." I told turning back my friend. "She was saying that she's like to see what Vensilvania looked outside of the Castle. She said she wanted to look around the kingdom." I informed him, sounding incredulous.
Then again, it wasn't often that princess were interested in what my kingdom had, just trying to hook up with me for their own personal gain - or to be Queens.
Vincent must have been thinking along the same lines as me, because his eyebrows rose so high they almost touched his hairline. Then he looked at the dance floor and watched Zigra dancing with Lord Blurkley for quite some time before saying anything.
"I'll see what I can do, then." He said not tearing his gaze from Zigra. Saying so, he pushed away from the floor and headed directly towards my parents. He was out of the shadows and pushing his way past the guests before I even noticed what he was doing.