The next morning, the 3 noblemen were up and ready to leave for Princess Kotori's mansion. No later than 8:15 the carriage was ready and they were on there way.
Leaving Versailles, made Eli all exited. While she had been galloping on her horse for yesterday's hunt, she new the terrain was huge, so being able to step outside of it's grounds would mean she would see the real city surrounding it. Just like she hoped, it was spectacular. Not in ways people would think as Paris of the 21st century, no, but as the way of an historian looking for the first and perhaps only time at the city and living beings that were of the time they studied.
Omitting the dirty streets and poor people harboring it, the city was splendid. Like Moscow in many ways, yet so different at the same time. At that time she felt nostalgic. It brought back memories of the time with her family.
Oh, how much she would give to see them once more. Georges was of immense importance to her family but he was just not her mother, not her father, not her grandmother, and he would certainly never be her sister.
Alisa, the light that had helped her through the horrible times they had to face together. Also, who was still there for her on her own death bed. Telling her to live her life to the fullest because everything was going to be ok. That Eli would see all of them once again, where the souls of the good, the broken and in need of love would be. Next to God, she had specified.
A god in whom Eli did not believe in anymore. One that had taken her family and her precious sister. He had turned her, shredded her in so many pieces she though she would never be able to put them back together.
And she was right, she would never be able to fix them together again but Georges had been there to help. Thanks to him, she was now pursuing "love" ,something close to it at least, with Tomoyo. She was starting to miss her, so today's meeting was going to help just a little into getting her back to her.
The girl she had a crush on...
"Oh la~~~ Slow down boy." Said a male voice.
" The royal doctor, Monsieur le Grand, and The Count Sviatoslavich have been requested appearance for breakfast by her royal highness Kotori of Lorraine." The same man continued.
A few moment later, creaking of a gate was heard and the carriage followed its way to the path risen ahead.
As Eli looked out the small window, she could see the sumptuous "little" castle in front. It was like many french style abode. Two big rounded tower ended at each extremities of the castle, making it look like an enormous I shaped round dumbbells.
The gardens were splendid in their natural French style, giving the whole ordeal a sense of control and strictness.
Very appropriate for the personalities they were going to see.
As Eli finished her thought the carriage pulled over and the coachmen opened the door to let them out.
As she lay eyes on the enormous mansion before her, a wonderfully dressed woman step foot outside of the big door accompanied by a row of servants.
She was what anybody could see as a regal woman. Beautiful posture, smile plastered on her face, great elegance, and most importantly power in her eyes.
The only thing eli thought strange would have been her hairstyle, but then again she was in France in the 18th century so nothing else would astonish her more than that.
" Welcome my friends! Thank you so much for coming to my humble home, Umi will be arriving shortly. Maki darling, how have you been? It has been ages since we haven't seen each other! Umi will be delighted. And as for you Rin, Hayano went to get some fresh produce from our so gentle neighbor. She will be back before breakfast." The princess saluted both man with familiarity. Just after which she turned to face Eli and stepped forward. Way into the blonde's comfort zone.
Her eyes squinted, her head titled to the side, her hand supporting her chin in a thinking manner and the princess went on to look Eli up and down, turning around the blonde to inspect her in detail. At that, Eli's posture straightened even more and she felt slightly nervous to being liked by this person.
Why though? She wouldn't know.
Just before Eli could feel at complete loss, she remembered that she had to curtsy and therefor turned around to were the princess was inspecting her and bowed, her hat in hand, on her heart.
" Your royal highness, it is an honor for me to be accepted and called by such a person as you. I am Count Eli Sviatoslavich syn Alekseev, please allow me to thank you for the generous invitation with some traditional Japanese confectionary and clothing." She said clearly, trying to prove that she was worthy of the invitation whilst the coachman reached for the present to one of the maids that stood close to her mistress.
" I'm impressed Maki, you said the count was not accustomed to our court morals but he seems to know the good basics already. Well, any who, Count Sviatoslavich, it is of my pleasure to have you amongst us this beautiful morning. Thank you for the gifts. I'll be sure to try them with my husband. I am also more than glad to meet you and very excited to hear about all the wonderful journeys you have been to. Now, let us all go to the veranda, it is the best place to take our breakfast this morning." The princess finished with a smile and the whole lot followed suit.
" Good introduction, but never talk first to someone with a higher ranking than you. It is part of the hierarchal rules of Versailles." Maki murmured when passing close to Eli.
Entering the castle at normal pace, Eli became much slower than the rest. to say that she was mesmerized was an understatement. Studying and hearing all these story from her parents and especially her mother who was in love with the French renaissance made Eli very aware of where she was at this very instant.
She was where she had always dreamed to ever go. Her mother's bedtime stories. It brought amazement and a slight sense of nostalgia. She was here, and her mother was present too.
With her tale, her dream, her presence; they were all there and for once in over a decade she felt at peace.
Embraced by beauty represented by small chubby cupids on clouds, circling 3 people dressed as gods. They seemed familiar, very familiar. A sad smile crept over her face as she almost caught on the direct sign that was given to her by God.
As she was about to understand, she woke up from her little peaceful day-dream, and her heart missed the filling that had just graced her.
" Are you coming Eli? The princess is waiting." Rin questioning the blonde's stop.
Eli sensing she was not being able to speak at that very moment nodded and followed behind Rin still wanting to get the feeling again.
The princess had settle the breakfast table in one of the biggest greenhouses Eli had ever seen.
It was not too humid inside,but enough to be able to grow foreign tropical plants and animals.
It was mesmerizing indeed. However Eli had caught on the most beautiful of all piece inside the greenhouse and that had had to have been custom made because it looked out of the ordinary.
An immense knee-high dance floor surrounded by a trail of clear water guiding a lane to the greenhouse's exit was in the center of this whole ordeal.
You could at least fit 15 couples on that low stage. Eli had just fell in love with the surroundings.
" Do you like the setting dear friend?" Princess Kotori asked noticing the bewilderment on the Russian's face
" It is unlike anything I have seen before. And that is to say a lot. You have extraordinary taste your highness" Eli answered honestly. It WAS like nothing she'd ever seen.
" We will rehearse some of the dances on that stage, we have a piano and a few of my personal chamber orchestra to accompany us today." She stated.
The blonde loved dancing, and to be able to learn a dance with a real noble from the 18th century was a dream come true! The only thing she did not like, was dancing in front of a snobby proud crowd of young thirsty man and woman; because unfortunately; that's exactly what would happen on the ball.
Nevertheless, today she was going to enjoy herself to the maximum and make sure to make her dance partner enjoy too. She had a little idea in mind.
The breakfast had gone beautifully. The food was exquisite as to be expected and the company of the princess was the most easy to get accustomed to.
Her husband had not yet arrived as he had been called by the king for some urgent matters. Eli would be lucky to see him later during that day if he was to come back at all , considering the intolerable man he was serving.
The little orchestra had been set and Maki was set in front of the piano ready to play. The first waltz demonstration would be danced by the princess and Rin.
Rin was an overjoyed dancer. Kicking extra leg moment when not necessary. Jumping higher than needed and bowing deeper than standard all in order to amuse her dance partner and just "lay off some steam".
It was hilarious to watch, everyone seemed to enjoy the dance as much as she was. Fun was her context and she had it spot on.
As from the princess, she was graceful as a feather. A bird touching the morning grass, soft and soundless. Hopping at the right time with excellent leg movement. She must have danced a lot and would be able to dance with anyone she wanted.
Soon enough they had finished their routine and the small public applauded their eventful waltz.
It was now turn for eli. She had memorized all the steps from the previous performance and was determined to try it. It had been an eternity since she had danced.
Maki started the waltz' first movement slower than with Rin but kept it consistent enough to have a rhythm.
Slowly, Eli made her way to the princess, offering her hand. The princess took it and the dance officially started. This was the moment were people would see if their bets would fail or win.
Rin had bet money on her failing completely. Maki on her falling and kotori was the jury.
Clap, twirl, jump and step backward and back to the princess, Eli had yet to make a wrong move. She held her head high and confident and carried the princess to a slow yet very entertaining dance to watch. So much that the servants had stopped their chores to admire the dancing couple.
It had been beautifully finished and both the dancers were astonished to have had finished so soon. It had been so enjoyable that time had passed in a flash. At that both looked expectant for another and the crowd encouraged them for an additional one. Eli then went on for her much wanted idea.
" Would you be able to dance to a more contemporary modern waltz, your highness?" eli asked gleefully.
" That, we would have to see for ourselves, right?" The princess challenged.
Eli explained the few steps and asked for a specific melody from the orchestra. She hummed the Johann Strauss II 's Vienna blood waltz. Maki perfectly knowing this thanks to her piano recitals in her previous years, started playing the main melody as the harp.
The musicians listened carefully and began themselves.
Eli turned around and proposed her hand once more to the princess. The princess delighted by the new type of music gladly took it and followed Eli's first moves.
One hand on her waist and the other firmly held in the Russian's own, Kotori was a bit stunned. A closed position. Both bodies much closer than she had ever been with any dancers. Faces inches apart and Eli's determination told her that she could not get out of this.
That's when Eli began to waltz. She led them both beautifully. Grand pas taking the dance floor fully and twirling at an unusual pace. Kotori understood the repetitive 3 step waltz and slowly lost herself to the dance.
Eli sensing easiness from her partner, held Kotori tight. Bringing her to the middle and adding 2 more steps including a turning lock and a pivot making the dance something out of the ordinary to the people watching. They continued to waltz with ease until the end of the dance but the blonde wanted a grand finale.
Turning lock, sliding grip to the princess' waist and firm hold, Eli dipped Kotori for a maximum experience
And did she get the reaction she wanted. All wowed everywhere and applauded from all over the crowd. Only one person had not been cheering for the past minute. Eli couldn't see the face but she imagined it wasn't too happy.
Both of the dancers got back to standing properly and bowed thanking each other for the wonderful dance they had just shared.
"Maki had told me that you were full of surprises but this I have to admit, I did not expect." The princess sincerely told Eli. The blonde blushing at the praise, bowed again and denied it.
" You praise me too much your highness, I would have not been able to dance at all if you wouldn't have been so good in the first place. Your husband must be incredibly honored to have you as his wif-" She didn't finish.
" Indeed I am proud and glad she is my wife. Kotori is one of the most beautiful, talented, and smartest person I ever had the chance to meet. Being able to call her my wife reminds me how lucky I was when she chose me as her husband." The lieutenant-general expressed defiantly while making his way towards Eli. Ending right in front of his wife, into Eli's face, almost protectively.
"Your excellence, I am so honored to make your acquaintance. I am -" the blonde bowed while starting her presentation, but her interlocutor did not seem too please about it and cut her off to it.
"I have heard of you already. Enough to see that you seem more than comfortable enough to touch my wife in such shameless manners, when you do not even know each other." The blue haired man puffed his incredibly decorated uniform.
The man could not have been taller than Maki. He had blue hair tied up in a low ponytail like most men of the era but wore clothes Eli hadn't seen before. Military clothing. The ones that could be considered royal due to how much quality and work it had gone trough in the making. Gold, medals, royal blue, many layers. Only a high ranked officer would be able to reach such prestige. And the Russian directly understood that this was not a man to treat lightly. His eyes would be enough to kill and the way he carried himself screamed power and prowess.
"Umi my love, don't misinterpret the count's action, I asked him to dance. He only suggested a dance that he seemed to like. I have to admit that it was quite enjoyable. It actually made me imagine you in his arms. Oh, my love! Would you do me a favor and learn from him. We would be able to dance together like I have always dreamed we would. Crowd or not, I would love for you to learn to stop being so shy when we dance." Like a snap of the fingers, Kotori changed the mood in an instant, knowing perfectly her husband's soft spot.
"Very well, I shall learn for you since it will make you happy. Count Eli, please teach me." The blue hair blushed, changing his intimating role to one of prefect homy husband. Eli was shocked. Not ever had she seen someone change character so fast. Her parents had been to her eyes "the perfect couple" staying so long together and still stay madly in love. But never did see neither of them accept some excuse so fast.
Some time passed and she didn't answer, making the adorable couple question her manner.
"Of course, I would gladly help you. It is the least I can do for the immense aid your wife has been to me." She bowed, accepting the request.
All smiled, for this unknown to all of them would be the start of a strong and life-ending friendship.
The rest of the day, the princess had Eli measured and dressed in different attires. She had already chose the material and style for the evening of the much awaited masked ball that was to come in a few days.
By the end of the day Eli had become friends with Umi, kotori's husband. A nice man, very cultured and kindhearted. It had been interesting for the Russian in so many ways that she did not know if she fully understood the circumstances she had ended up in.
That night she had come back with a marvelous costume for the ball, 2 new friends and knowledge on kingdom's economy and ruling.
She felt like she understood more about the king that she was going to face very soon, she had to admit that he sounded like the biggest asshole she had ever heard of in her entire life. It's much to say, since she lived in times of social media.
" Did you enjoy the rest of your day?" Maki had asked. She and Rin had some errands to deal with and had to leave earlier. However they had had the time to see that Eli had completely settled herself with their old friends and they were both relieved.
" I did. It was incredible. However, honestly I'm still shocked by the lieutenant-general's attitude with his wife. Its unbelievable."
"It's really funny. He may be one of the highest and toughest military man I have ever met, not even considering his strictness, but next to his wife. WOW. She's the boss." Maki said.
"He may wear the uniform, but she wears the pants" Eli ended on a high note, making both of them laugh out loud at the accuracy of the judgment.
"By the way, the ball is in 3 days from tomorrow, what am I going to do about the hunting? It's such short notice, I wouldn't even be able to catch 30 people's worth of food." She asked, scared for her fate.
" Do not worry, I've made a deal with the royal chef like I told you. I promised her a bit of money and a date with one of my family members, which she is head over heals for, and she will take care of finding all the food and affirming that you hunted it. All you have to do is to go Horse riding during the next days with one of her helper and we'll be able to deceive the whole of versailles. The meat will be fresh and not too old, making it seem like it had been hunted at least a day ago or so. That cook may be weird and clumsy but in the kitchen she's a real goddess. Oh! don't tell her I said that." Maki thoroughly explained making sure that the Russian was up to date with the coming arrangements.
They talked for a bit more about the party's schedule. The first half would be the great entrance with everyone disguised. A series of games and dances would be organized to make everyone bland in with all classes that were invited and the winner of the most games would win an audience with either the queen or the king at choice. A 15 min talk in front of everybody after everyone's mask had been taken off.
Some sort of marketing for that person's family, rank or company. Maki told her to try her best to win that prize as it would make her directly stand up from the populace of versailles.
Not really wanting to admit it to anyone and not even herself, Eli was ultra excited for this ball and was going to do her best there. She'll just have to wait a few days to finally see those famous royals' face.