Chapter 41: A Ball
The ballroom inside the Helstea Manor was lavishly decorated with colorful string curtains hanging along with other embellishments on the tables and stage. The elaborate placements of the orbs that made up the chandelier sparkled, creating a serene ambience as the guests started coming in through the giant front doors.
I was dressed very formally for the special birthday party Vincent’s and our family decided to throw for Ellie. While this world did have formal wear that were very similar to tuxedoes from my old world, this world did not have ties. Instead of ties, handkerchiefs were wrapped underneath the collar and tied fashionably.
Since the ballroom was located in the opposite wing from our rooms, Ellie had no idea that we were throwing her this party. She was under the assumption that the both of our families were going out to a fancy restaurant so she was excitedly getting ready with our mother and Lilia, who came back for the occasion.
Sylv was sleeping inside my room, her body still getting used to the big change she underwent recently, promising her leftover food instead.
“Welcome. Please come in.” Putting on a gentlemanly smile, I welcomed my little sister’s lady friends she met at school, a duty I was assigned by my mother, one I wasn’t too fond of.
Met with shy giggles and red faces, I kept a gentle smile on as more and more people started coming through out of carriages, accompanied by a driver and a chaperone.
The attendees of my sister’s party consisted of her female friends, the female friends’ chaperone, which were an older group of people, and either my parent’s friends or Vincent and Tabitha’s friends. By 8 in the evening, most of the people on the list have arrived and my mother notified the maid that she and my sister would be coming down shortly.
“Well aren’t you dressed all neat and spiffy?” I turn around back at the door to see Gideon in his signature brown lab coat, a cleaner one at least, and his goggles hanging on his neck.
“This is quite a pleasant surprise Mr. Gideon.” My smile must’ve tipped him off because he grumbles under his breath before replying, “You darn well knew that I would try and see you again didn’t you?”
My smile never wavers as I use my hand to guide him towards the refreshment booth. “I’ll admit it was unexpected of you to utilize my sister’s birthday to meet with me though.”
“Bah! You and I have a lot to talk about and don’t you forget I’m not leaving you until I’m satisfied!” He, once again, starts grumbling before trotting over to the refreshment booth, asking for an alcoholic drink right off the bat.
Elijah, who I saw talking with a chaperone girl that was a bit older than us comes walking towards me, his shoulder slumped.
“My third time asking a girl and they all so kindly make convenient excuses to go elsewhere…haaa….” He sighs, dejected, his glasses a little crooked.
Before I had the chance to start teasi…comforting him, I was interrupted by a loud voice.
“Everyone please get ready, Lady Alice and Eleanor are both on their way here!” The maid announces before she signals to turn off all of the lights.
“…Mama I thought we were going to go out for dinner? Where are we…”
With the chandelier sparking on and a couple of artifacts popping in an array of colorful lights, my little sister’s confused face turns into one of initial surprise, then pure joy. Her eyes widened and cheeks blushed red as her hands instinctively went to cover her gaping mouth.
She didn’t have too long to indulge in her moment of astonishment as her school lady friends all ran up to her and gave her hugs, almost carrying her away along with Lilia gave me a meaningful gaze before disappearing.
“Good job welcoming all of the guests Art.” My mother came up to me, gently patting my head before some of her friends pulled her away leaving me to wander. I spotted my father with Vincent and some other importantly dressed figures, talking business and other various uninteresting topics.
Waiters walked around handing out platters and cups of various foods and drinks. I was munching on something akin to a bite-sized sandwich when I hear my father clink his wine glass with his fork.
“Ahem! Before the party officially begins, I would like to thank you on behalf of my precious daughter for coming here tonight!” As my father says, I see my sister blushing in embarrassment as her friends giggle and clap at this joyous occasion.
“Please start the music!” My father signals towards the back of the stage where 5 musicians step out with their instruments. I’m surprised to see that the instruments look identical to the violin family instruments in my world, with two violins, one viola, and one cello musician step out with a pianist behind them. The piano was shaped a little different and as they started playing, the sound it produced was much deeper and richer than a regular grand piano.
“It would bring great joy to see my beloved son and daughter have the first dance!” My father’s cheeks were a little flushed from the alcohol because he just said something that could potentially be disastrous. My mother has a look stricken with panic because neither her nor my father has ever given either of us dancing lessons.
I catch my sister’s dreadful face as she realizes she could become a total embarrassment on her birthday. Keeping calm, I take confident strides towards where my sister and her friends were.
“Will you honor me with your hand for a dance?” I bow, placing a hand out in front of me. I hear various squeals and “eeks” from her friends but I ignore it.
Ellie, still fretful at the turn of events couldn’t find the words so she just starts nodding her head, accepting my hand.
As soon as she is in my hands, a crowd forms around and their applause dies down as the soft flow of music became louder and fills the room. The music was slow and rhythmic, making it easy to follow along. Her once panicked face gradually turns calmer as she realizes she just needs to follow my guide. My right hand holding unto hers and my left gently placed on her fragile waist, we circle around, her light coral dress fluttering gracefully. Each step she takes mirrors mine as we waltz around the small dance floor formed around us by the crowd. I was calm and poised, dancing and swaying to the song with grace, since dancing has been something I had to learn for any formal occasions as a King. I couldn’t embarrass myself as a figurehead for my nation now could I?
My sister’s face turned from calm to excitement as she truly started enjoying dancing. Her skin glowed from her smile and perspiration, giving her a radiant feeling to the crowd. Twirling her around as if we had rehearsed for a grand performance, the musicians played along with our dance, them getting inspired as well. As the last verse of the song was coming to an end, she followed my lead well, coming to a beautiful halt synced perfectly with the musicians.
The applause and cheers of the audience, some of the more intoxicated adults even whistling, washed up the soft panting of my sister as the both of us bowed, hand in hand.
“That was wonderful!” “Truly splendid!” “What a great performance!” I hear compliments from all around that make my sister’s smile grow even wider.
“Brother!” My sister couldn’t hold in her excitement as she jumped into my arms, almost knocking me down in surprise as she starts laughing as her arms were flung around my neck.
“Holy shit! That was great! Where’d you learn to dance like that Art?” Elijah runs up to us, his narrow eyes gleaming in excitement underneath his glasses.
I just give him a shrug before gently placing my sister down. Giving her a pat on the head I say, “Happy Birthday Princess.” Giving her a playful wink before my father picks her up.
“HAHA! My beautiful princess and my handsome son! What a great performance!” My father must’ve been drinking more because he was even redder than before.
“OWOWOW” He lets out as Mother pulls my father down from his high horse by grabbing his earlobe. “Do you understand the disaster this could’ve caused if Art didn’t HAPPEN to know how to dance?” She whispered while still emphasizing the word ‘happen’.
“I learned from Jasmine while being an Adventurer. I thought it’d be useful!” I explained innocently, only getting rid of half the suspicion from my keen mother.
“Don’t mind don’t mind!” He manages to wheeze out, while my sister, who was put back down, went to her friends. My still angry mother dragged my intoxicated father by the earlobe back to where the adults were.
ELEANOR LEYWIN’S POV:
“Your brother is so handsome! I’m so jealous! I wish my brother was like him; he seems so nice!” My friends I’ve made at school were all complimenting Brother and me about the dance.
“Hehe! I told you he was great!” I couldn’t help but smile in pride at being Brother’s only sister.
“Yeah he’s awesome! I bet the both of you practiced a lot for that dance! It looked SUPER hard.” My best friend Nicole was really excited.
“U-Umm yeah! But our teacher was really good so we got it down really fast!” I lied. I thought it would be weird for them to know that only Brother knew how to dance, not me, when it should be the other way around.
My heart was still beating really fast from the dancing. It was really tiring but also really fun because Brother led me through it so well that I felt like a professional dancer.
“You’re grinning really big Ellie.” Nicole smirks at me, elbowing me with her arm.
“Hehe! Let’s go get some food!” I need to look busy so some of the guys here won’t ask me to dance.
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
I slumped in a corner, a glass of apple cider in my hand. The dance gave all the more reason for the adults and chaperones to come and greet me, some hinting for a dance. Putting on a smile and speaking in a higher pitch than usual to sound more respecting can get tiring.
I spot Elijah dancing with a girl that looks around our age maybe a year younger, probably one of the older friends of my sister. I guess he finally managed.
“Hey, you must be the Arthur that everyone’s talking about.” A blond-haired boy rather tall and poised leans on the wall next to me.
“Haha, I guess I must be.” I manage a faint smile while I take another sip of my cider.
“My friends are all jealous of you for stealing the attention from the girls here.” He snickers while sticking out his hand. “My name is Jarrod Redner. I heard a lot about you from Lilia at school.”
“Ah, you guys both go to Xyrus. As you already know, I’m Arthur Leywin, pleased to make your acquaintance.” I receive the handshake before my eyes spot Lilia, who starts coming towards us after she sees us together.
“Can I assume you guys are either dating or that you like her before she gets over here?” I say in a low voice so that only we could hear.
“You’re pretty sharp aren’t you? Yeah, we’re part of the council together, she being the secretary and me the treasurer. I’m trying to pursue her and I’ve expressed that many times already.” He smiles at Lilia while waving at her.
“She may look a little plain, but she’s a good girl, Lilia that is. I hope you treasure her well.” I simply say.
“Well I hope to get the chance to do that someday since she’s rejected me all three times yet so far.” He says, a hint of disappointment escaping his face.
“Hey Arthur! I’m so sorry I couldn’t get the chance to say hi to you at all today! I’ve been so busy as soon as I got here earlier and you were busy with preparing too!” Her face is flushed and by the way she spoke so quickly and excitedly, I was beginning to understand why Jarrod came up to me.
“I’ll leave you two alone.” Jarrod solemnly walks away, a hint of jealousy in his eyes, not even looking at Lilia as he passes her.
“You look beautiful today.” I calmly say, clinking my glass of cider with her glass before taking another sip.
“O-oh… I mean thank you!” Lilia was really jumpy as she started fiddling with her turtleneck light green dress that was embellished with frills and subtle trimmings. I haven’t seen her since before she started attending Xyrus. Lilia matured a lot this past year and a half, her child-like face slowly becoming a bit more refined.
We started talking a bit more about her school life when I started teasing her. “You must be pretty popular at Xyrus. Do you have a boyfriend yet?” Even my sister would sometimes tell me about boys who like her, gloating that she was popular.
“N-no of course not! I don’t have anything like that yet haha.” Lilia was desperately waving both her hands, signaling no way, which made me laugh.
“You’re still young so take your time and meet the right guy. But you better bring him to me first so that I can approve before you start dating him!” I poke her in the arm.
Lilia has a sad look on her face but she quickly covers it up, saying, “Yeah I will! Just don’t be too hard of a judge!”
“Ahem, mind if I borrow the young lad?” Gideon, who came up to us, said to Lilia in as gentle of a manner he could manage.