Despite Arthur's worries of asking Mr Yao for his Goddaughter's hand in marriage, the Chinese man was extremely pleased. He could not have been happier to see his niece being married to the man she loved – and who had enough money to take care of her. A week after the private engagement, the pair had decided to officially declare their courtship to the English society – a step that was required. The couple was expecting gossip but did not relent in its declaration; Arthur was certain that the talking would cease when the members of society would met his fiancée. She was too adorable and gentle to receive any hate – although he knew that some would envy her. Nevertheless, both were overjoyed to have finally admitted their feelings to each other. They wanted to officially attend Mr Edelstein's ball as an engaged couple; it was exactly a week after Arthur's marriage proposal.
"Finally," the French Baronet commented, as he was observing Miss Honda's engagement ring, "We have been waiting for this for weeks."
"Indeed, we had almost made a wager," his sister added, before grinning innocently at Arthur. Even if she was wearing a mask, her facial expression was more than recognisable.
"Excuse me?" the English Gentleman hissed, a scowl adorning his face.
"Yes, your fiancée is so lovely that we were wondering why you had not asked her right away."
"W-Well," Arthur replied, not sure what to tell them. His face was turning red, causing his better half to lightly squeeze his hand to assure him of her support.
"We wanted to spend more time together before considering marriage," she answered for him with such a sweet and gentle smile that the questioning party mentally decided to stop their jesting comments. They had always made fun of their English friend and now they knew that the woman on his side would protect him. The admiration for her was strong due to the fact that she could handle a moody Arthur. In addition to that she was skilled in martial arts, which was still a fascinating fact for the French siblings.
"I hope we will be invited for the wedding. I don't want to miss it," Francis slowly turned towards his Prussian friend, "Right, Gilbert?"
"Mh," the addressed General mumbled, not focussed on his friend. Since he had entered his cousin's masquerade ball, Gilbert was thinking about Elizabeta. She was accompanying her friends at the ball and was officially attending the ball as a guest of Mr Edelstein. The topic of his English friend's engagement was leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. Of course Gilbert was content for his friends, but their happiness caused him to think too much about a certain beautiful brunette cook. How often he had dreamt of being happy with her – just like his friends.
"I need a glass of refreshment," he suddenly declared, moving across the great ball room, avoiding running into other dancing couples. The man had observed his beloved Elizabeta from the other side of the room and had decided to finally talk to her. For a week, he had not been able to catch a glimpse of her. And now that he finally had the opportunity, she was talking to his Austrian cousin and enjoying his company instead of glancing at Gilbert. Elizabeta looked absolutely stunning in her dress; her face was partly hidden by a mask, but Gilbert could still see her beautiful green eyes. His heart skipped a beat as he noticed the hair accessory she was wearing – it was the one he had given her.
The sight of her next to his cousin was not only angering him; Gilbert's heart was not able to endure this any longer. He was approaching them, as Mr Karpusi joined them near the buffet.
Elizabeta was having a nice conversation with Mr Roderich and his Greek friend as she heard someone clearing his throat. And it was certainly not an ordinary somebody; the Hungarian was aware of the Prussian presence behind her. Since that incident where he had taken her basket in order to save her from being found out by Mr Edelstein, she had avoided him. Not because she hated the oldest Mr Beilschmidt, but thinking of him caused her nerves to tense, her heart to accelerate and her hands to produce more sweat than they needed to. Elizabeta herself questioned her reaction – one month ago she hated the man, now she was somehow intrigued by him. He had changed, showing more manners towards her – she was still very thankful for the gift he had given her, a family heirloom she was forced to sell for the sake of surviving. The white-haired man had somehow succeeded in receiving a small spot in her heart, and being the strong woman, Elizabeta was denying that fact with every stance.
"Oh dear Lord, no," she uttered loudly, lost in her thoughts and not noticing how the voice of her expression sounded.
"Miss Héderváry is voicing my own thoughts," Mr Edelstein announced as his eyes fell on his cousin, "I did not expect you."
"Well, I am here, cousin," Gilbert spoke, his voice a mix of annoyance and disappointment. His arrogant smirk was barely hiding his current mood.
The Hungarian froze, "O-oh no, I did not mean to –"
"It's all right, Miss Héderváry," Roderich approved, interrupting her speech – something she hated greatly. As she quickly glanced at Gilbert, she noticed his slightly hurt look in his eyes as he stared down at her, before diverting his attention to his family member again. Elizabeta knew that her former expression had somehow offended him.
"I want to talk to Miss Héderváry . . . in private," Gilbert disclosed to his cousin. The commanding tone in his voice suggested that Roderich could not deny his wish. Elizabeta was rather surprised and nervous about this situation, but had no choice as Gilbert took her away from his Austrian cousin.
Unfortunately, the room was full of people, leaving Gilbert not enough space and choice but to stay a few metres away from Roderich and his Greek companion. The white-haired man did not know why he had softly pulled her to the side. His instinct – or rather the jealousy – had somehow forced him to create a distance between Elizabeta and the Austrian.
"Uh . . . What did you want to tell me?" she suddenly asked, eyeing on him.
"W-Well," was all he said, before he lost sense of reality – he was staring in her eyes and felt as if he had lost his grip. "I – "
The silence took over him as he sighted the ground again – his feelings were overwhelming him.
"You know, you have changed a lot."
He lifted his head, looking at her with a confused face. "Changed?"
"Yes. You were quite arrogant and I could not stand you," she admitted with a small smile, remembering their first encounter. Gilbert on the other hand felt a shiver running down his spine – her words did nothing for his ego.
"But you are much friendlier now, caring, even shy –"
"I-I am not shy," Gilbert suddenly burst, trying to regain a pride demeanour. "I-I am confident!"
Elizabeta blinked, before laughing at his odd display of behaviour. His posing was too amusing for her, as he put his hand on his hip while brushing a small strain of hair off his face. Elizabeta never imagined that he would do such an action in a filled ballroom, only to convince her of his confident side. Unbeknownst to her, he did have the urge to impress her and to justify himself whenever she was near him.
People around them stared at the speaking couple with flabbergasted expressions. But Gilbert could not care less about them, all he thought important was the brunette in front of him who was finally smiling because of him. Even if it was a small laugh, Gilbert's stomach was filled with butterflies, his face matching her grinning visage. He decided that if she would laugh because he was showing her stupid pose, then he would gladly repeat it.
Roderich's raised eyebrow was a sign that the man was displeased. He and Heracles' attention was focussed on the laughing pair. Although he adored Elizabeta's smile, he did not like her behaviour she was showing – laughing openly with Gilbert in a room full of members of society.
"She seems genuinely amused by your cousin."
The Austrian quickly turned back to his Greek friend, "Indeed, but Gilbert is always jesting around and not serious enough for gaining the attention of such an elegant Lady."
"Are you certain? You never know how love affects people."
"Gilbert is smitten by her – which I understand. But she could never develop any romantic feelings for that fool," Roderich boldly affirmed, suggesting the idea that he was more qualified to be her partner than his pale cousin.
"Well, frankly, I never thought that Mr Kirkland would fall in love either. And as you see, he did, even if it was difficult for him to accept that," Heracles replied.
"Oh yes, and I thought you wanted to court Miss Honda. I heard that you wanted to make her an offer."
Heracles shook his head, thinking that the gossiping society had created a false rumour – as always. Despite paying Miss Honda's compliment, his heart belonged to a bold, talkative and petite woman whose brother would not be too pleased if he ever found out Heracles feelings towards her. Imagining Mr Adnan as his brother in law was not a nice notion, but his sister was worth the risk. After Sakura had told him of her engagement, he had been delighted; she was his friend after all. Elizabeta and he were the ones that were immediately informed by that glorious occurrence – Heracles knew of Elizabeta's occupation but did not care about it, he would engage anybody in a conversation. And his admiration could always be won with a good meal. Unfortunately, he was not aware of the fact that his conversation partner had no idea of Elizabeta's obligatory cooking activities.
"I never wanted to, she is a dear friend of mine and I am overjoyed that she is finally engaged to Mr Kirkland, although he too was convinced that I wanted to marry her," the Greek explained before chuckling, "They belong together and I am glad that Mr Kirkland intends to wed her despite her rank. Just like you do."
Roderich almost choked as he had just gulped down the content of his glass. "Excuse me!? What do you mean?" He coughed, not comprehending the allusion.
"Well you dally with the idea of courting Miss Héderváry."
"I understood this part, but what did you mean with despite her rank?" Roderich questioned again before his hands started to shake – his mind now formed a suspicious thought that Heracles confirmed with his next words.
"She is a servant in Mr Kirkland's household."
"I beg your pardon!?" Roderich felt a cold shiver ran through his body – due to the shock and the anger that was taking over him.
"I-I thought you knew?"
"You are aware that I do not socialise with servants!?"
Heracles sighed, "Yes, but I thought you were making an exception with Miss Héderváry."
The Austrian man was in a cold fury as he marched towards his cousin and Miss Héderváry who had pretended to be a woman of society.
Elizabeta was startled by the voice; it was the host of the ball that glared at her, ignoring his Prussian cousin next to her. The smile she was wearing seconds ago disappeared immediately.
"You lied to me," he hissed and the Hungarian was at a loss for words.
"I have never thought I would let myself manipulate by a mere servant; and to think I was interested in you!"
With widened eyes – as realisation struck on her – Elizabeta tried to explain her situation, "I never wanted to –"
"You never wanted to do what!? You, a mere cook, wrapped me around your fingers! Unbelievable!"
Gilbert, feeling the urge to protect her, interjected immediately: his broad shoulders blocking Roderich's sight from the brunette Hungarian as he stood in front of her. Even if she was capable of defending herself, Gilbert did not want her to be faced with such angry words.
While he was trying to block the bad atmosphere from reaching her, Elizabeta decided to leave the scene. Small tears were running down her face as she run towards the door – people around them were attentively listening to the drama.
"Were you informed of this?" Roderich suddenly addressed his cousin, after he had watched Elizabeta fleeing from the room.
"Yes," Gilbert stated, a furious look adorning his face as he glared at his cousin. "I was aware of her occupation the moment I had met her. But why should I care? She is a marvellous person with a determined character."
Despite the music in the background, Gilbert's voice was loud enough for everyone to hear.
"To find someone with such a personality is a gift. I don't know any woman from society who appears to be as wonderful as Miss Héderváry!" Gilbert almost shouted as he eyed the society Ladies in the room. "You are a fool if you think she is only a mere servant, because her soul is more worth and precious than your property."
With these words, the Prussian sprinted outside in the hopes of finding Elizabeta as quickly as possible.
Elizabeta was clutching her stomach with her right hand as she paused outside. She had run towards the carriages and the footmen who were taking care of the resting horses. Overwhelmed by her feelings, she pulled her mask off her face and seated herself on the cold and wet ground. Even if she was wearing a beautiful and expensive gown, Elizabeta felt as if she belonged there: in the mud. Her spirit was broken – for such a long time she had acted as the strong and independent woman she was known for, but sometimes such persons needed a pause from the insults, attacks and compromise. Not only was she reminded of her escape, when she had no choice but to flee her country where her family was killed. This night, Mr Edelstein's words had affected her greatly; the brunette had admired him, but after he had uttered his displeasure considering servants a week ago, she had felt uncomfortable in his presence. Now he had openly expressed his disgust in public – and called her a liar. Her sobbing was too loud for her to notice as footsteps neared her; only as she felt a warm coat embracing her figure, did she stop her emotional outburst. Elizabeta remained on the ground as she lifted her head.
"M-Mr Beilschmidt," she acknowledged as her hand touched her face to hide the droplets that were escaping her eyes. "W-What are you doing here?"
The man sat himself next to her, taking her hand to remove it from her red face.
"Y-you will be soaked in dirt," she hiccupped as he softly smiled.
"I am more worried about you than about my clothes."
"B-But you are sitting in mud . . . You don't belong her," she whispered as she tried to unsuccessfully push his hands away from her, "I do belong here, next to the footmen . . . the servants . . . A ballroom was never meant to be entered by me."
Gilbert could not believe the words that were leaving her mouth as he searched for her eyes. The devastated look she was wearing was unbearable for him to watch. His heart was aching by the sight of her devastation and her talking.
"I belong here," he spoke, "I am going wherever you go. If you belong here outside, surrounded by mud, then I do belong here too I. If you think you belong in a glorious ball room, then I do too. I belong with you, wherever you are, because I cannot imagine being anywhere but next to you."
Elizabeta was astonished by this statement as she continued listening to his heart-warming speech.
"You deserve so much better than that Austrian. His words were hurtful and I never wished for you to find out his true opinion. I wish I could have prevented it, so I would have to see you in that state. But I cannot undone it and you have to know that it breaks my heart to see you cry," Gilbert confessed, letting his lips form these words without thinking too much about it. It was his heart that was speaking; not his rational thinking. His hands wandered from her face to her shoulders before he embraced her. He was content that she did not refuse his hug.
"I-I always thought y-you . . . w-well you did insult my food before knowing me a-and . . ."
Elizabeta felt his shaking body, as he was laughing. His warm body was comforting her and she wondered if he would not freeze without his coat.
"I wanted my German food and was ignorant of your delightful dishes," he admitted, still chucking over her comment. "But I would have never met you, if you had not thrown food on me."
Gilbert retreated from her form, holding her at arm's length. "You impressed me in every way, Miss Héderváry."
Her small hand lay on her cheek as she formed a generous smile; she had to admit that the Prussian knew how to use romantically phrases – even if his normal sentences could be misunderstood.
His smile was the answer of her positive reaction. "That's the face I wanted to see. Such a stunning expression. More beautiful than those society ladies could ever be. You don't need such persons who judge you for working in a kitchen. It is admirable what you do."
"Thank you," she expressed as she gazed into his honest red eyes. "Thank you for being here."
"As I said before," he said, "I will go wherever you go."
He slowly leaned down – the rain, the Victorian rules and their surroundings completely forgotten. Gilbert paused shortly, to make sure that she did not refuse his move. "I love you Elizabeta."
Surprisingly, Elizabeta was the one that closed the distance between them after he had confessed to her.
Even if it would rain all evening or if the entire assembly inside the mansion would be displeased by Gilbert's departure, the Prussian did not care. His love lay in his arms, reciprocating his feelings. He was the happiest man in the world.
[A/N: PruHun time ~ .Headcanon: Prussia can be extremely romantic when it comes to love (I have been inspired by German and Prussian poets to make such a statement :'D) . I wanted to point out that Austria is being displayed as a slight arrogant aristocrat here, for the sake of the story. He hates being lied to and that triggered his outburst. I was really motivated to post this today; and I doubt that I will write a lot for Saturday, because the UEFA European Championships will start on Friday :3. I am always supporting Germany and Belgium (my country did not qualify ;A;) but due to Hetalia I am kind of supporting everyone, but Germany and Belgium are #1 :D because: I have been a Germany fan since I am but a mere child and because I am partly Belgium :D. It's kind of weird to write about football when writing a Fanfic set in Victorian times xD]
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mimi-chan and aliling-chan: Hihi :3 I can only imagine :D if your OTP marries than this reaction is quite normal :D (I myself was squealing while writing xD) . No Problem :3 Thank you for reviewing :D