One envelope plopped on the doormat of his humble apartment in the nook of the capital. When Gilbert took its frivolous design in mind he could make a good guess about the content. Pandora would celebrate its 90-year-something jubilee within a few weeks and traditionally that would involve a luxurious dinner as well as a social dance event. All of the employees and the four duke houses were invited, along with other minor aristocrats. He so wanted to come. NOT. Considering that if he went, he would have to face uncle Oscar... and Gilbert had been avoiding that man and any other Vessalius ever since he was able to step foot in the Pandora Headquarters. No, he was not worthy of their presence!
The first two years he had been in Pandora and after living on his own Gilbert had ignored these types of social events. Much to the disgust of his foster parents and foster brother, he had fled the Nightray house almost immediately after claiming Raven his Chain. The worst part was that Gilbert hadn't cared one bit.
The day after he received the invitation he got bugged by Break; "Come on Raven, we will share our heartbreaking life-stories and drink the sorrows away~"
He had flinched. That intolerable bastard just wanted to drain the information out of him!
A week before the ball Sharon lured him with the following words: "Ah Raven, I heard that you're quite the dancer. Mind being my dance partner for the jubilee night?"
As he felt Break's heavy glare stabbing into his back multiple times, he shook his head without saying anything. Of course not! He didn't want to risk getting choked like Break was currently demonstrating on Emily!
"Oh, I also heard from here and there that Ada Vessalius will participate to the ball as well. As you might know, she has come of age as of recently," Sharon told him, her hand slipping under her chin, and then suggesting, "To make up for your absence that day, I don't suppose you would want to be her dance partner...?"
Under a flood of hohoho's and the guilt gradually flowing back, he'd briskly walked away from the duo. They were definitely in league with Oscar Vessalius, the adopted Nightray firmly decided. Even if Ada Vessalius, Oz's beloved younger sister, would be there, and including the fact that he hadn't seen her in ages, he still won't come to that ball! Never!
That all changed when someone banged his door repeatedly on that fateful day, and after opening the door with apprehension, he stood eye in eye with the Nightray heir. Apparently he only recently heard from Vincent that their eldest brother was not coming to the annual party yet again.
Eliot was fuming.
Out of an instinct Gilbert rapidly backed away as he anticipated the torrent of anger blasting out the younger boy's mouth. The boy made his intention clear in caps-lock words, thus slamming the final nail in the coffin.
"YOU WILL COME TO THE BALL WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. STOP RUINING THE NIGHTRAY HOUSEHOLD'S REPUTATION!"
Unable to fight back, Eliot and Reo personally dragged the man back to the Nightray household to get him dressed up in a black suit and a red scarf and then threw him in a carriage straight to the Pandora Headquarters.
The four duke houses and the heads of the Pandora organization were assigned to the long table in the middle of dinner hall. The remaining dinner tables were occupied by other families. Somehow Gilbert felt like he was being watched. By whom? He didn't know any of them, except for some Pandora employees by face. To Gilbert's relief the Vessalius's and the Nightray's were wisely separated by the other two households. However, to his dismay Rainsworths were directly assigned to sit next to them. Although he didn't mind Sharon and her family, the real problem was that he was sitting in between Break and Vincent!
"Break, would you be kind enough to pass me that...?"
Break's eye followed to where Vincent's finger seemed to be pointing at. A porcelain container with sauce at the Rainsworth table; apparently it seemed to be missing from the Nightray's side of the table. A large space was occupied between Break and Gilbert. The Rainsworth servant closed the distance swiftly and shoved the porcelain can to Gilbert.
"Here's that disgusting sauce forthatdamnedbrotherofyours~" Break mumbled into his ear, before going back and gnashing on a piece of meat.
"Haa?" Gilbert exclaimed, not exactly pleased to hear that with his 'damned brother' sitting right next to him.
"My. Did I just hear Break say something interesting?" Vincent interrupted, obviously having heard the insult and retaining a wholly unaffected appearance, "and thank you."
"Nothing," Gilbert quickly said to his younger brother, after he passed the sauce, and then looked back at Break, "Just shut it you clown! Don't cause me any trouble!"
However, Break's attention had diverted to a smiling Sharon and the man had ignored him effectively. Gilbert stared down at Eliot, whispering on an accusing tone, "You knew this would happen, and that's why you dragged me here, damn it!"
"What makes you say things like that? You coward!" The young heir yelled abruptly.
"Someone got caught..." Reo commented indifferently, "and may I suggest not lifting your voice in a time like this?"
Eliot grumbled a pink tint covering his cheeks, discarding the curious glances thrown at him.
The majority of the dinner resumed peacefully, but when dessert was served Gilbert could confirm one thing... Yes, he was being stared at. Not just a little, but a lot. It wasn't just mere paranoia as Break accused him of so many times, but he could literally feel a million gazes drilling into his back and therefore he felt compelled to only stare at what was served in front of him. Were they staring because he had inherited Raven and yet abandoned the Nightray mansion? No, that couldn't have been made public...! It was a surefire fact that the Nightrays had done their best to cover up that discrepancy.
Then why oh why were those people staring at him?! By heavens, who were they? He took a quick peek to the back. Several glances were diverted and erupted giggles escaped.
Without any more thoughts on his mind he ate a few spoons of his chocolate mousse dessert and then threw a discreet glance at the large space between Eliot and Sharon. What happened next made him petrify; until moments ago he had to acknowledge the group of teenage girls staring and giggling at him... but now, oh God, a lady of his age just.... winked!
A dumbfounded Gilbert stared at the mousse and kept eating until there was none left over. The only way to rid the unneeded attention was to get away as soon as possible. After he excused himself he exactly did that and went outside to the garden in fast paces. The exit was followed with more giggles and stares. Unknown to him, the other table participants were all very aware and seemed evenly amused, although one heir appeared slightly irritated at all the attention Gilbert was receiving.
After having walked a pretty good distance away from the hall, an unnerved Gilbert settled down on a bench in a shrubbery. He lit his cigarette and placed it in a corner of his mouth. After that troublesome dinner he needed some space, badly. He hadn't meant to attract attention; he was a Nightray and there was twice the shame in carrying that name. He wished Oz had been there to capture all of their attention instead, he definitely would have.
During that whole time he hadn't spared a glance at the very other end of the table, not even checking whether Ada was there or not. Gilbert inhaled and then blew out the smoke.
"I'm one big disgrace," he muttered.
One familiar voice squealed near his neck.
"A big disgrace? But you're doing well with the ladies."
"Gyaah!" He nearly fell off his seat out of shock. Someone had followed him? He stared at something appearing in the bush behind the bench.
"Ni!" A blue face had appeared and squeaked all of sudden. Emily!
"Break!" an annoyed Gilbert exclaimed, "Damn it, will you cut it out!?"
"Hoooh," Break said as he stepped out of the tall shrub behind the bench, "Whatever made you so touchy this evening? I was under the assumption that you weren't coming."
Gilbert recovered himself and placed a hand on his forehead in exasperation, "Someone dragged me into this..."
"Ahh! Mr. Angry?" Break lifted a finger, pointing out the obvious.
"It's Eliot," he sighed, and then crossed his legs, "Well... you wanted to ask me about something?"
Break honestly looked surprised, and then gave a knowing smirk, "Ooh so that's why you sought out a secluded place..."
Gilbert didn't react to that.
"Raven, that will come later. There's someone else I arranged for you to meet. For now..." The other smiled insidiously, and then Emily chimed in, "Report to the dance floor."
"What?!" The young man stared shell-shocked at the other.
"In other words... save me a dance, Gilbert my dear?" Break stuck out a tongue and winked (Gilbert shifted uncomfortably), then he stuck his arm back into the bush, groped and pulled out something, no, someone out! What the hell?
"Surprise~" Break sang joyfully.
His appearance made Gilbert's spirit nearly leave his body. A tall blond man had stepped out of the shrubs and dusted a few leaves off his sparkling white suit, then brightly smiled.
"Ahh Gilbert-kun~ long time no see."
"O-O-O-Oscar V-Ve-Vess-ss-salius!!!" Gilbert stuttered, backing away from the bench. That man had been there the whole time?! In the bushes?! What should he do? What should he do?! He looked around to an escape route.
"You really have to stop avoiding me... it's been almost nine years!" Oscar laughed, drawing closer.
"I can't- I betrayed the Vessalius household, and I'm not worthy-" Gilbert apologized, making several steps to the rear. He should make a run for it, damn it! Unfortunately, Break had disappeared behind him.
"Is that your standard line each time you talk to Mister Oscar? You're so boooring, Gilbert," Break teased as he pushed the younger man back to the bench, "Sit down and take some advice from an expert~"
"Advice..?" Gilbert repeated uncertainly, wobbling at far end of the bench, while the other man occupied the middle. Noticing the distance between them, Oscar Vessalius took Gilbert's arm and pulled the young man close to his side.
"That's right, Gilbert-kun," he smirked, "In each generation there are wanted men and wanted men. For example! When I was your age I was easily one of the hottest guys of my generation. Well, all the men with the Vessalius bloodline are blessed with good looks, naturally, but times have changed. You must have noticed you're the one stealing the show with your looks."
Gilbert's jaw dropped. What. The. Hell.
"Haah? This is a mistake! I cannot be compared to the likes of you!" Gilbert pleaded, attempting to squirm himself out of the arms of the man and failing miserably. He didn't belong in that category; he was just a simple servant! A servant! Someone get him out of this mess!
"Oh! Stop being so modest Gilbert! You did see all those women staring at you the moment you walked in? All of them were so perplexed with your fine looks."
Gilbert was shell-shocked. He had been too busy thinking about various ways to escape the party, and about important things, other people, someone else...
"How could you not have noticed?" Break teased him, "Don't you ever take a look in the mirror?"
Gilbert simply glared back at him instead of bothering to answer.
"Haha, you didn't notice you're one hot piece of meat," Oscar laughed with Break.
"Pathetic! Pathetic!" Emily chirped.
He nearly shrank away. Meat? He was being compared to a piece of meat?
"True true! But I'm glad you're here~ you lady killer," Break piped in and crunched on a piece of candy, "You have no idea how much I hated that filthy sewer rat for getting so much attention in the previous balls. Each time he gets complimented for his looks it makes me wanna pierce out those nasty eyes of him---!"
"What the hell are you taking me for?!" Gilbert angrily yelled at a Break who started to skip around for no reason, "I have no intention to-"
Oscar placed a hand on his shoulder, "Ah ah Gilbert-kun, Ladies go for for the dark and mysterious looks these days~ But.... you've got to smile more! That's where you... capture their hearts!"
The hearts in his eyes became clearly visible and the sparkles flew around in abundance.
"Eh? I'm sorry but, I just don't think I-" a flustered Gilbert said as he finally managed to peel off Oscar's arms off him, and began to walk away in big paces, "I, I think I'm going now!"
"Okay, seduce them well!" Oscar called after him as he stared at the boy fleeing away in a hurry, and then sighed, "Ah, this reminds me of my youth... I was such a hunk... those times were the best."
"He'd do better if he wiped off those clueless expressions of his face," Break mumbled, "How can one be any more useless?"
Oscar smirked and placed a hand on the other's shoulder.
"Well Xerxes Break, I think we've done enough for the moment. How about if I treat you to glass of wine as a word of thanks? It was well worth seeing little Gilbert like that."
"How could I ever pass on such an offer, Oscar Vessalius?"
Several thoughts ran through his head as he ventured further inside the garden. Pandora's garden was considerably wide and long; and during nights it was not advisable to go alone in case of danger. This jubilee night was giving him a headache. Perhaps he will stay a couple of hours here out of anyone's sight. Better yet, maybe he should leave. No, Eliot would hunt him down and beat him up. He certainly didn't feel like going through that.
After a while Gilbert spotted a nice and large patch of grass between several trees and blooming flowers. Without any hesitation he jumped over a bush and settled down quickly. Propping his arms to support his head and closing his eyes, he prepared to sleep the evening away. No one would bother him here. Hopefully. Well, he managed to for about half an hour. Dusk steeped in and it was exchanged for the darkness of the night.
Gilbert opened his eyes; he had heard several footsteps nearby. He recognized one, it was...
"Yo Gilbert~ What are you doing?" A voice greeted with much amusement.
"Get lost Vince," he snapped, "I don't feel like going back."
"Is that so?" Vincent said although he expected no answer. He approached his brother, carefully through an open spot between the bushes. A different odour interfered within the smoke surrounding him.
"You've been drinking..." Gilbert narrowed his eyes, before sitting up.
"Oh, how did you guess?"
"I can smell it," he replied, "You didn't come alone, did you?"
Vincent smiled and gave a short giggle.
"So rude, but you're right Gil... I didn't come alone," he answered, "I accompanied this young lady to look for you, since it's so dark out here..."
"Who?" Gilbert twitched an eye. The statement his younger brother just made felt so wrong for... many reasons.
"I wanted to show her my black roses, but she was so intent on seeing you," Vincent smiled, and then called out, "You may come out now."
She had been hiding behind a tree. A dark shapely figure approached them and she was holding a box in her hand. The moonlight revealed her long, blond hair and her emerald dress.
"Ada Vessalius," Vincent announced with a smooth voice.
Gilbert gaped a little at how she had grown to be different, but her green eyes and her beautiful hair reminded him that she was indeed the girl of nearly nine years ago.
"He-hello Gilbert," she greeted shyly.
Unable to move away he just stared at her with wide eyes. He didn't expect this.
"A-Ada," he quietly said, "It's been a while..."
Having observed the situation briefly, Vincent proceeded to take her hand with grace and then kissing it lightly. He made a small smile and leaned near her ear.
"My lady, I'll wait for you on the dance floor," he whispered.
Ada had blushed a deep crimson on her cheeks and nodded. Gilbert couldn't help but stare after his brother in awe. Just how-!? His younger brother merely smiled back and proceeded to leave. Break was absolutely right; Vincent was such a pro at seducing ladies!
However, he had to break off his current stream of thoughts when Ada came to sit next to him in the grass. The blue box adorned with white ribbons the girl had placed in front of her. A gift? When he was absolutely sure that Vincent was out of sight and hearing, he started to speak.
"Have you been doing well?"
She smiled, "Ah I've been fine. I had my coming of age ceremony several months ago..."
"I'm sorry, I didn't come," he apologized.
"It's okay," she said, "I know you're working hard, Gil."
"Ah, still I'm sorry..."
"Hmm, I know... it reminds you of my brother, doesn't it? It does for me."
Gilbert looked away for one awkward moment. Was he that readable? He didn't reply, but he nodded a bit before lying down again to look at the stars in the sky.
"Ah, I often wonder... if the three of us had grown up together. How would it have been like?" Ada played with her fingers.
Gil contemplated for a moment. Ah, growing up together. It was a wistful dream (If Oz was here... if he had been with them for all those years). He turned his head and smiled sadly.
"He would be the brightest star of this night," he finally said, and then turned away from her, whispering, "Tch... it's such a pitiful thing that I've come to replace him."
She didn't say anything to that and instead asked, "Why aren't you with the other guests?"
"That's exactly because... people were staring at me."
"Eh, you didn't like it?"
"I guess I'm not... used to it, and people just kept bothering me... It makes me feel nervous," he had to admit, "I'm not that good looking..."
"That's not true at all," she said, "People are giving quite a lot of compliments... you and your brothers are all handsome, they say."
"Despite the fact we're Nightrays..?"
Ada blinked, and uneasily replied, "Despite that..."
"Ah, what has the world come to...?" Gilbert placed his arm over his eyes. He often imagined Oz being so much more handsome and beating out all of the competition twofold. He looked away in embarrassment when Ada giggled a little.
"Well, Gil... This is for you," she quietly said.
He adjusted himself properly and stared at the blue gift box she offered to him.
She nodded and he held back his breath. A present for him, it couldn't be!
Gilbert considered the box in his hands for a moment and blinked in surprise. Even though the box was medium-sized, the content itself appeared to be lightweight. Slowly he discarded the white ribbons and then opened up the lid.
His curious eyes and hands found a black velvet-
"GILBERT NIGHTRAY!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!"
"Eh?" Ada shrieked.
The pair jumped out at the angry voice from behind. It belonged to none other than...!
In his rage Eliot ran up and then violently dragged his foster brother to the side with the ever observing Reo standing there.
"Eliot, no Eliot, it hurts," Gilbert choked at being forcefully held by his collar.
"How dare you vanish right after dinner? If Vincent hadn't told me you were out in the garden you'd probably be sleeping away for hours! So get your ass back to the party damn it!"
"Ah look, it's Ada Vessalius," Reo pointed the girl out.
The young heir stared in shock at Ada (she blushed brightly) and then back at Gilbert to unleash his anger.
"YOU WERE WITH THAT VESSALIUS GIRL?! HAVE YOU NO SHAME?!?" He shook his foster brother repeatedly back and forth.
"Please don't hurt him!" a panicked Ada begged, "It isn't his fault! All I did was giving him a gift!"
"You overdid it Eliot," Reo spoke, poking him in the side hard. As of result Eliot let the poor Gilbert go and stared back and forth at the two in annoyance.
"Ugh, that's your final warning. Gilbert. Just get back OR ELSE!!!" Eliot yelled again.
The black haired man nodded soundlessly. At times like these he seriously felt like the younger brother.
"Let's go get a drink," Reo offered his master.
"Tch, I guess we'll do," Eliot replied, not noticing the slight glint shining briefly on his servant's glasses.
Gilbert adjusted his outfit and gulped. Why oh why did he have this feeling that Reo was really planning to do something nasty...
"I'm so sorry about that," Ada quietly apologized.
"It's alright," Gilbert replied, smiling at her, and then putting the gift on his head, "and thanks for the hat."
"It suits you well," she happily said, "Shall we head back together?"
"Yeah, I believe it's time to go."
After Ada parted ways with him to look for someone when they entered the ballroom, he tried to ignore the stares that were casted onto him. He tried not to think much of it. There had to be a limit to his constant uneasiness. The music soared within the hall and several couples busied themselves with dancing. Some pairs were equally skilled, and among the younger ones, not so much.
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Vincent taking a young lady's hand. Ada? His younger brother was naturally skilled at this and he led her on the dance floor as if he had been doing this all his life. Ada seemed quite impressed and did her best to keep up. The image would have been rather endearing if it hadn't been for Vincent's worrisome personality or the fact that their families were sworn enemies. He felt like he didn't deserve Ada's kindness... and that hat! He had to treasure that hat! Taking Sharon's suggestion in heed, Gilbert gulped, he himself better dance with her as well. To make up for things, right?
Elsewhere Eliot and Reo got served with drinks. They occupied a lonely place in the hall and observed the couples swinging around. Vincent and that Vessalius girl in particular were tremendously eye-catching. Eliot twitched an eye at regular rhythm.
"I can't stand those two, they piss me off so much," he whispered under his breath, referring to his elder brothers. What was so special about that Vessalius girl? He couldn't see it. Sure she was pretty, very beautiful even... and she was a smart and kind-hearted person, who always did her best. Most of all her sparkling emerald eyes were-- He sighed absent-mindedly. No! Eliot shook his head. He shouldn't be thinking about those things!
"Aren't you going to drink it?" Reo asked him after noticing his master's conflicted face, then taking a sip from his own cup.
Eliot stared at the small cup. He hadn't seen it being served. Being thirsty as he was after unleashing his wrath on Gilbert, he drank the beverage in one go and slammed the cup on the table, barely tasting the alcohol.
For once unsure of how to react, Reo simply stared.
"That was... fast," he prompted finally.
"What else can I do when there's so little of it?! I'm still thirsty."
Reo considered his answer for a short moment and called the waitress to return with a bottle of the same. After their glasses had been poured again, the duo resumed to watching the couples on the dance floor. Neither of them were asked to join, because; A. Nightrays. B. Eliot scared the girls. C. It was pointless to ask Reo, because of B.
Eliot grumbled as he watched Sharon Rainsworth asking Gilbert for a dance who accepted. Unbelievable! The boy grabbed another cup and sloshed it away.
Sharon was easily swayed by Gilbert's poised dancing.
"My, you should do this more Raven. You're so wonderful. Look, everyone's watching us," She giggled starry-eyed, her girly persona showing up, "I bet all the girls are so jealous of me~!"
Oh great, Gilbert thought wearily, is there no end to these mindless fangirls?! Instead of replying to her so-called compliments he warily scanned the ballroom, and changed the topic.
"Where is Break by the way?"
The clown was eerily absent and the backstabbing of last week didn't sooth Gilbert's conscience. They briefly passed Eliot and Reo's table and he had to lift an eyebrow. What the hell were they drinking?!
"Oh don't worry about him," Sharon whispered, catching his attention once more, "He'll be here soon."
"Haah?" He didn't like the sound of that. Whatever would that man be planning to do?
"Ah, I think I'll relax for the moment and have a chat with my mother," she finally said after a while, "It was such a pleasure to dance with you Raven."
He looked away for a bit as she left him. The black-haired man decided to stay put at the side and searched for Break, but he was nowhere to be found. Though he did notice Vincent sitting at a table with Echo pouring him a drink, but he paid it no heed. Damn, he was so thirsty. He alerted a waiter to fetch him a glass of water, and sunk in a deep wave of thoughts going down a list of people; Oz, Break, Sharon, Uncle Oscar, Eliot, Reo, Oz, Ada, Oz, Vincent, Oz.... Gilbert leaned against a wall and sighed.
Currently, Gilbert Nightray was lost in a world of depressing thoughts, it was clear for all to see, because he was looking increasingly more angsty than any other guests in the ball room. Neither did he see the girls surrounding him nor did he notice the whispers accumulating around him.
One could imagine this was the perfect cue for Break to make a funny comment about the Raven's pitiful state, but considering his plan in the making; for now, he will not. However, someone else will take his lost time and turn it into an unforgettable scene.
At one table there was an empty bottle of wine and a red rose was missing. The rose had been placed in a graceful person's hand. The crowd of females surrounding Gilbert, who still didn't notice anything, parted a way for a young Vessalius. Her hand went for his, feeling up his glove for a moment, and then lifted his hand in front of her face. When he came back to his senses, he noticed her other hand going to the rose placed in her mouth.
"Don't look so sad my dearest Gil," she finally said and she placed the rose on his hat, "This looks good on you, don't you think?"
Gilbert was too horrified to say anything in a reply to the sight he was seeing. That dark gaze, the look in her eyes and that seductive smile… What happened to innocent Ada Vessalius?! However, before he could do something her fingers drifted up to his jaw line and she caressed it slowly, her white nails going downwards… barely scratching. Skillfully her index finger made a way to below his chin and she gracefully pulled him down to her face.
"A-Ada," he managed out of his throat, blushing deeply, staring at her lips, "What..."
"I believe you owe me a dance for the night?"
One strong move from her hand nearly made the Nightray trip over his own shoes as she pulled him into her arms somehow, forcing him on the dance floor.
Elsewhere at a table, one blue-haired girl stared at the scene ensuing.
"Vincent-sama, your brother is taking your quarry," she spoke, pouring another glass for her master.
"Ah Echo, you're wrong. It's the other way around," he replied, bemused.
'There is no mistake! The Vessalius blood is pumping through her veins!!!' a drunken Oscar happily thought, completely disregarding the fact that his niece was hitting on Gilbert.
On the other hand, Eliot's blood was supposed to be boiling at the rage incentive sight, but for some reason he didn't burst out like he usually did. Angry, and yet somehow he didn't feel that angry any more...?
Ada led him through the ballroom as if no one else had been dancing there. Occasionally they would bump into another pair, because Gilbert's spirit had currently fled its body.
"Ah Gilbert, isn't it nice to be dancing together like this~ someone as handsome as you is not meant to lead a life like a wall flower," Ada happily said. The dance resumed like this for several minutes with the girl flirting, but nothing could get through his skull due to utter shock.
"ADA! ADA! Dance with me!" A male voice called out.
Oscar whisked the girl in his arms and tossed the poor Nightray in the middle of the ball room. He landed ungracefully on his behind.
"Ah my little niece, enjoying the party?" Oscar asked her.
She completely forgot about me! Gilbert thought, having come back to his sense, as he stared after them.
Someone tapped on his shoulder.
He turned his head and looked up to see the person.
"Liam... What's wrong?"
His gaze was caught by the female behind Liam. She was standing with her back to him and only showed that her hair was long, fell straight along her shapely figure and colored silver white. The silky black dress was perfectly accented by the red laces.
"W-well, there's... this person who wants to dance with you," Liam spilled out uncertainly as he backed off and then ran away as fast as he could, fleeing to Rufus Barma's side ('Children,' the duke thought). If Gilbert had a good hearing he might have heard stream of "Forgive me! Forgive me! Forgive me! Forgive me!"'s from the Pandora employee, but in this case he didn't because he was too focused on the woman.
A high-pitched, though slightly unnatural voice came from the woman standing in front of him.
'Oh. My. God,' Gilbert thought, still sitting on the floor and madly shuffling away on his hands and feet, 'OH MY GOD.'
"Would you like to-" The head turned, red lips visibly moving.
"NO NO NO," Gilbert yelled, completely horrified, "I DO NOT WANT."
"Aah, Raven, you have to watch your manners when it comes to ladies," that person replied and then turned to see the struggling young man on the floor.
"No, this isn't happening! This isn't happening, you clown!"
Break gazed down at him as if he were prey.
"Oh yes it will~"
In one single, swift action he pulled the younger man to his feet and proceeded to drag him all over the dance floor. The rose Ada had given to him fell down and was trampled by Break. By this point of time, Gilbert more or less resembled a black sack of grain with a head and limbs attached than a dashing young man.
"Oh Break is so happy~ To dance with little Gilbert like this! I made sure to wear heels to make myself one centimetre taller than you," Break sang, "I'm not particularly good at dancing, especially in these heels. You should keep this in mind before I might 'accidentally' do something~!"
One heel dangerously tapped near his foot. Not his precious feet, not his precious feet, not his...
"See?" Break warned sweetly.
''Are you mocking me?!" Gilbert angrily yelled as he made sure not to waver, and keep up dancing.
"Good boy," he said, and then explained, "I had to find a way to dance with you without causing much havoc about two gentlemen dancing together!"
Gilbert didn't even dare to look at the audience's reactions. He'd die before doing that.
"Ugh, what could you possibly want to ask me by doing this madness?!"
"Let's get straight to the point; I have three questions ...and the first one is," Break twirled Gilbert around, and whispered in his ear, "What's the worst thing Vincent has ever done to you?"
"Gah! Why do you want to know?" Gilbert glared, recovering from his twisted lefs. 'Hiding things from me', he thought.
"WRONG ANSWER," Break replied, "My heels, I might step on your…"
"Lying!" Gilbert finally said, not wanting the other man to question any further about that.
Break raised an eyebrow.
"Boooring," he whined, "Next question!"
The young man braced himself with his mouth tightly shut.
"What is your little brother's most hated food?"
"Hah?" Gilbert clearly expected something else, and had shivered from Break's closeness.
Another heel closely hit his right foot.
"Carrots! Carrots!" he cried out desperately, "...Why do you want to know that?!"
"Oh? That's when the next time he dines at the Rainsworth mansion, if he ever dares, I'll make sure to put carrots in every dish," Break explained with his eyes suddenly wide and dark, "Even the dessert!"
"....s-scary," Gilbert commented.
"It is!" he said, grinning madly, "My third question is... who is his most beloved? Tell me so I can stab a hole or ten through that person!"
At this Gilbert pushed him away with all of his strength, but Break did not even fall even due to the impact.
"You'd have to fight me first," Gilbert coolly replied, adjusting his hat, "Break."
"Hooh, there we have an interesting answer," Break smiled, "So Vincent Nightray's most beloved person is..."
Gilbert drifted his hand near his gun, but several footsteps to the rear alerted him of not one... but two people coming after him.
"Gilbert~" a young girl's voice called, "Why are you dancing with that person? What about the promise you made to me?"
"Ada?" Gilbert whispered, "What promise? We didn't promise anything?!"
"You said you would only dance with me," she cried out, flying to his waist.
"I didn't say anything like that...!"
Drunk! She's drunk, currently wrapped around him and crying! Crying?! What the hell should he do?
"ADA VESSALIUS HANDS OFF HIM!"
"What're you doing Eliot?!" Gilbert yelled, as he stared at the young heir incoming. Eliot pushed the girl off him and grabbed his hand tightly.
"I told you not to be around that girl any more! Do you want to piss me off so much then?!" The boy accused, as he took him to the center of the room.
"No, no, it wasn't my intention," Gilbert explained, taking him in his arm. It was a futile shot.
"Tch, you're one useless basta-"
"What the hell are we doing?!" The other suddenly yelled.
That was when Eliot realized they were dancing. Him and Gilbert.
They halted and yelled simultaneously; "How could you not have noticed!?!"
"It was automatic! I've been dancing the whole time, so I didn't notice," Gilbert was the first one to talk, "...and you've been drinking haven't you!"
"Ah ah," Eliot blushed a bright red and sought for somewhere to hide, but then he spotted Ada running up to Gilbert yet again, "Oh no, you won't!"
The young heir pulled Ada away and held her tightly in his arms much to her surprise and his own embarrassment. She felt warm and smelled of summer wine, grass and flowers. Somehow… strangely nostalgic. This was the girl he always yelled at. His own actions were completely irrational and his parents would scold him, but all he knew was this girl and nothing else.
Gilbert's jaw could not possibly have dropped any further.
"N-Nothing happened, Gilbert, nothing!" Eliot shouted after him as he danced with Ada.
"E-Eliot," she shifted uncomfortably within his touch. At that moment a slow song started to play.
"I know... only this once, and then not any more. I j-just wanted to dance with someone and not be ignored the entire evening. You... understand?" He told her without looking at her face and she nodded wordlessly. If one looked well, she was even smiling a little at the subtle kindness in his voice.
Break was so amused by all of this now that he ended up crying of laughter. This shameless bullying of Gilbert was probably one of the funniest things he'd ever done. A familiar and rather bossy voice next to him silenced his laughter.
"That's enough, Break!" Sharon tugged at his dress and pulled him down, "Take off this ridiculous outfit and dance, with me."
The man smiled back contently.
"Yes, my queen."
Gilbert Nightray somehow managed to escape the chaos; he stumbled to the balcony and ran to the railing to catch up on some air. His eyes brimmed with tears; he could not take this anymore! It felt as if the whole world had been after him. Damn Break! Damn him! All these years he had been bullied on... He'll definitely kill him one day!!
He sighed and stared back at the ball room. Eliot and Ada were dancing. Gilbert had to admit that getting Eliot drunk wasn't that bad of an idea. No wonder Reo was intent on finding out whether the young heir was more relaxed than his usual demeanor.
Then he heard a sob.
Someone was crying? Another sob. It was strangely familiar. His eyes wandered over the balcony and he found a person sitting next to the bench.
Vincent was... sitting there all alone?! His older brother instinct immediately kicked in and he ran over.
He froze when he saw his younger brother's face; he had been crying? Even though Gilbert couldn't recall even one time he had ever seen Vincent crying, it seemed he'd experienced countless times before.
"Gil..." he sniffed, and smiled a little, "...you're here."
Gilbert crouched to lean down.
The elder brother twitched his eye; Vincent was reeking of wine. Who was the culprit this time?!
"Where is Echo?" he asked instead.
The blond hid his face between his chest and legs.
"Don't know, who cares about her," he replied.
That Echo and Reo!! They had been planning this together?! Gilbert sighed in exasperation.
"Ah Vince, come sit on the bench," he told him.
"Hmm, yeah~" Vincent said sulkily and did as he was told.
'That was easy,' Gilbert thought, and came to sit next to him, "Why are you so upset?"
"That's 'cause," he let out a sob, "you were dancing and having fun with him and I -hiccup- I d-don't like him, that man is so meant to me and I really hate it!" he bawled, and proceeded to bury his face in Gilbert's chest, "Brother, why are you doing this to me?! Is it because of my-"
"He-hey!" he yelled, interrupting, "I certainly wasn't having fun. You took it the wrong way!"
"But everyone else was laughing!" the other yelled back.
'Oh, thanks for rubbing it in, Vince,' Gilbert rolled his eyes in dismay.
"No, I promise you. That clown is an idiot and you don't have to take in mind whatever he says about you."
Vincent stopped sobbing and looked up at his brother's face. The other Nightray stared in awe at the innocent face he was making. "Re-really? You promise?"
"I promise," Gilbert said and pulled him in an embrace, blushing tremendously. His younger brother sighed contently.
"Thanks Gil~," he replied, "Will you come to the other balls too? I'm so lonely when you aren't around..."
".....uh, uh, mmmh."
This was just weird.
Gilbert flinched at those puppy eyes.
"...Yeah, I'll go."
His brother smiled happily. Why oh why couldn't he resist?! But the thought of Vincent... crying again... he couldn't stand it! ...and those smiles... he really seemed happy.
'His most beloved...'
He ruffled his golden locks and smiled.
They remained like that for a minute on the bench, until they heard those - noises at the door.
"Kyaaa-!!! Brotherly love!!" A female shrilly voice cried out.
That was when they looked at the crowd with wide eyes.
So. Many. People. Were those girls still stalking him?! They had been watching them the whole time?! He hadn't paid attention to the door at all. All of them must have caught wind of Vincent crying like a baby. Gilbert panicked and let go of his brother.
Said person was ready to flee to the stairs at the other end of the balcony.
"Wait for me!" Vincent called again, grabbing for his shoulder.... and missed, "Ah..."
His eyes felt heavy all of sudden, his mind feeling so weak and his body lethargic. Gilbert turned around, and he was just one single step removed from falling into his brother's arms...
Thirty minutes later the Nightrays were in a carriage back to the mansion. The atmosphere was strangely lacking of intensity.
"I get sick from just looking at you guys," Eliot covered his mouth with his hand, "You two look so sappy it makes me want to throw up."
"Don't, Eliot," Reo said.
The man on the other side frowned, "It's your own fault getting drunk like that in the first place!" Gilbert replied, exhausted himself.
"Don't tell me what to do, you bastard!" The miserable looking heir retorted.
Reo slapped the book against his master's forehead, "Calm down, both of you."
"Okay Reo, I get it!" Eliot averted his eyes from the peaceful Vincent snuggled against their eldest brother, his head nearly in his lap.
Eliot had quickly passed out against the seat, Gilbert quietly murmured to himself, "Geez, why haven't I been fed drunk!? ...so I could forget about this ridiculous ball..."
The man shifted his hat down to cover his face and unconsciously started to play with his brother's golden locks. Vincent was now making disturbing scissor motions with his index and middle finger in his sleep. Reo hid behind his book, keeping his thoughts to himself.
The night was still young, and so were the Nightrays.