Author's Note: I'm sorry for keeping you all waiting for so long. I hope this makes up for it, but I'm not 100% pleased with it.


CAMERA OBSCURA PART II


After much experimentation, DG and Glitch had developed a handy portable 'camera' that soon became the sought-after item of the palace, and the Queen went as far as to employ a palace photographer to document events for them. It was just in time for the Alliance Ball, where the nobles and leaders of the allied lands came together for a few days for meetings relating to how each land could improve their alliance with the others. It culminated with a large sit down dinner and ball after, and DG and Azkadellia were told they had to be present through most of the talks to learn diplomacy and what would be expected of them when dealing with the allies in the future.

DG currently stood the top of the staircase leading to the Grand Hall, twitching slightly as her dress moved against her and itched. She wanted to take a deep breath but the last time she'd done that during a fitting, the beading on the front of the delicate bodice had flown off and hit a maid, and the bodice itself had ripped in a southerly direction, revealing a little more cleavage than even DG thought appropriate.

Cain stood next to her, looking highly uncomfortable in his uniform, much like dress blues from the Other Side. She could tell he was resisting the urge to tug at his collar, buttoned up round his neck. She squeezed his arm and he glanced down at her, the corner of his mouth quirking up. "Ready?"

She rolled her eyes, smiled for the camera that was being wielded by the hovering photographer, and together they descended the stairs, hoping against hope neither would trip.


She hated balls, she really did. They were just an excuse for all the lords, ladies, dukes of the land to dress up in their finery and compete with each other for the favouritism of the monarchy through dances, outrageous costume and tall tales. Unfortunately for her, being part of the monarchy, she was required to admire the costumes, listen to the tall tales and dance with the nobles. Most of them would just bore her to tears, but there were the few that couldn't dance and half-way through the evening she found herself limping over to where Cain was sat with Azkadellia (who'd managed to decline most of the dances offered on the excuse of her health) and flopped next to them on the sofa-type furniture.

"Please tell me they make dancing shoes with steel-cap toes?"

Azkadellia giggled softly. "Why do you think I've been avoiding dancing most of the evening, little sister?"

DG groaned. "You could have told me this before I got my toes squashed flat! No one can dance here, and that's coming from someone who's had to have up to three lessons a day with Glitch to ensure I vaguely know all the Ozian dances."

Cain snorted. "I think your sister wanted to see how you'd fare against them."

"What?" DG was too tired to reach over and smack her sister, so she settled for a glare. "Traitor."

There were a few nobles eyeing the two sisters, and Cain could see they were trying to decide whether or not to ask for another dance. He sent a quelling look their way and they suddenly changed their minds and went off to find other young girls of noble blood to impress.

"Come on, Princess, let's go and show them how it's done." He turned his gaze to DG and she studied him for a moment.

"Are you joking? I'd be surprised if I can walk after tonight. I'll have to use crutches or something for the rest of my life!"

He shrugged. "Suit yourself." As he stood, he turned back to her with a small smirk adorning his features. "Obviously you'd rather dance with all those that will squash your feet instead of the one person who won't..."

DG blanched and stood quickly, grabbing his arm. "I'm coming, I'm coming!"


The evening was drawing to a close, and Glitch had taken over the duties of the official photographer. Since he and DG had created their portable camera, he'd rarely had a chance to use it and the photographer that had been hired was all too pleased to give up his duties earlier than his allotted time so he could enjoy the ball and drink.

As he wandered around the great hall, taking both posed and sneaky shots (he particularly enjoyed the ones he took of the drunk nobles as they succumbed to the alcoholic beverages the later it got), he noticed DG leaning drowsily against her sister as she chatted animatedly with Raw, Cain and young duke from neighbouring lands. She wasn't used to dancing for so long, especially with heels, and she hadn't yet built up a tolerance for the alcohol which was stronger than that of the Other Side.

A smirk crept across his face as he lifted the camera up and looked through the viewfinder, pointing it at the little group, and took a few shots. When Cain looked over at DG and realised she was half-asleep, he murmured in Raw's ear. Raw nodded lightly, said something to Azkadellia and the duke, and helped DG to stand, escorting her out of the hall. Cain followed.

So did Glitch.


When DG woke the next morning, it was to sunlight streaming in through her window and a pounding headache. She groaned pitifully and moved the pillow over her head, squeezing her eyes shut. She didn't remember much from last night, but she'd obviously had enough presence of mind to escape the restrictive dress and change into a nightie.

Two pieces of paper fluttered down from the pillow to rest on the sheets beside her, and she pried her eyes open again. It took a moment to focus but the pictures on the paper slowly became clear and she stared, bemused.

One showed her in Cain's arms, on the dance floor. She was looking down, but it was the expression on his face that caught her attention. He was gazing at her with what could only be described as tenderness. The photographer had obviously caught them unawares, and she frowned, wondering when they had.

She turned her attention to the other. This one was darker, taken much later at night and in the areas of the palace that weren't so well lit. She was in Cain's arms again, but this time he had her bridal-style and her head was tucked under his chin. The photograph had been taken from a vantage-point that was obviously hidden from Cain, as he seemed oblivious of the fact he was on camera.

She stared at it for a moment, lost in thought, before something struck her.

Wait.

Cain carried her to bed?

And if there was no one else around except for the photographer and Cain didn't know about them...

...Then who undressed her?