Arthur told himself that really, he didn't have to deliver the letter personally. Look. Down the way, a boy was coming. For a penny, he would deliver the stupid, lacy thing for him. He didn't have to do it himself. But Arthur sighed. He'd sailed the seven seas. He'd colonized countries of savages. He'd been shot and left for dead in a field of corpses. He could deliver a stinking letter to a stinking frog.
So, with an apprehension he'd never felt before, he grasped the brass knocker and gave it a good hard rap.
Francis appeared after a moments wait, and blinked it surprise at him, looking elegant and relaxed for his house robes, the smell of baking goods drifting out into the street."Petit Lapin?" he asked softly, running a hand through his hair. "What brings you here so early?" Arthur fidgeted, and shoved the piece of paper and the little red tulip into his slender hands.
"Victoria wanted me to invite you to her Valentine's ball. Don't ask me why. She seems to have it in her head that you're a gentleman." He was about to turn away. Flee, retreat. Anything to get away from the delighted expression that Francis was giving him, because damn it. Why did he look so happy? Didn't he get invited to balls all the time? Didn't all of high society think that "'s french friend is very polite, very beautiful, very charming"?
"You delivered it personally, Petit Lapin. Merci."
Arthur felt his cheeks flame, and turned away, coughing to hide his embarrassment. A little voice in his head told him that he really should have given the letter to that boy, because then maybe, he wouldn't be in such a situation. The little voice goes on to berate him for writing his own poetry on the card, rather than buying a ready made one. "J-just be ready on time, You frog." Arthur tries to hiss. He turns away and is on the street before he says "I'll pick you up at 8."