Chapter 16:

The Ball

Hated by the Evil Lady

Lucien adjusted his tie in front of the mirror. He was wearing a blue suit, just slightly darker than his hair, to represent the color of his house. The blue jewel of the family that became the symbol of his position as an heir was pinned in the middle of his collar.

After tying his hair on the side, his look for the ball was complete.

Giselle didn’t tell him to match the color of his suit with her dress, so he figured that meant he was allowed to wear anything. That was why he chose to wear the signature color of House Renand.

“Tsk, tsk,” he heard someone’s voice from the door.

It was Cecile, with her arms crossed and her head shaking in disapproval.

“It’s not everyday you get to escort THE Princess Giselle, and you didn’t even ask to match outfits? Shame on you, Lucien,” she said. She was in her indoor dress since she wasn’t going to go to the ball.

“And why do I have to be told that by you?” Lucien said while rolling his eyes. He knew Cecile was trying to mess with him again. She laughed and walked away from his room, proving his suspicion that she only came by to make fun of him.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t considered matching. It just felt weird for him to go overboard when he was just going to accompany Giselle out of responsibility. He did truly hope that the colors of their outfit wouldn’t clash too much, though he was sure Giselle would look good in anything anyway. Lucien nodded to himself.

The first thing he must do after reaching the Imperial Palace today was to greet Her Highness in her room. Lucien stood nervously in front of the door to the room. Giselle should be getting herself prepared inside right about now, so he had no clue if he should enter right away or wait until he got summoned in.

He kept pacing back and forth for a few times before he finally decided to just knock on the door.

“Enter,” Giselle’s voice said from inside, sounding a bit far away. A maid opened the door for Lucien from inside, revealing a room so large that he thought a ball could even be held here.

Once Lucien entered the room, the maid closed the door back up behind him. He looked around, but he couldn’t see Giselle anywhere. There were only a sofa with a table, some folding screens on one side of the room, a huge canopy bed on the other side of the room, and a vanity table on one corner. All of those were so far apart from each other because of how large the Princess’s room was, making the room feel overall empty. Where did Giselle’s voice come from then, if she was nowhere to be seen?

Just as he thought that, the maids appeared from behind the screens. They then pushed the screens aside, revealing Giselle standing in her ball dress.

Her hair was put up in a twintail as usual, but they were decorated with golden pearl chains and glitter that made her look like she was sparkling. Shining gold jewelry was hanging on her ears, neck, and wrists each.

With a golden puff sleeve dress that accentuated her small waist, her black hair and eyes especially popped out among her shiny attire.

Lucien’s eyes widened when he saw her.

If he had to compare her to anything, he would pick the sun. She was blindingly bright and regal. His gaze just naturally gravitated to her, as if something invisible was pulling him in. Lucien was once again reminded that this delicate yet strong lady was a member of the exalted Imperial Family.

“Lord Renand, please take a seat,” Giselle said, returning Lucien to his senses. He then nodded and walked to the sofa to take a seat.

Even after he did, Giselle didn’t immediately come to the sofa to join him. She was still discussing with the maids, likely about something related to her looks judging by how she pointed at her sleeves at one point.

It took a short moment before Giselle finally joined him on the couch next to the one he was sitting on.

“My apologies for keeping you waiting,” Giselle said. Her sitting posture looked very elegant with her back straight, her chin up, and her hands resting on her lap.

“No problem at all, Your Highness,” Lucien said with a smile. “So, what is it that you would like to discuss beforehand?”

“Oh, it’s about our entrance later,” Giselle said as she crossed her arms. “Right after every aristocrats’ arrival has been announced, we are going to enter the ballroom hand in hand. It will be right before my Elder Brother, who will then be followed by my esteemed parents.”

Lucien gulped and nodded. This would be his first time being in the presence of the Emperor and Empress without his parents by his side.

“Understood. Is there anything I need to watch out for…?” Lucien asked, his eyes sharp and vigilant.

Giselle shook her head. Instead of looking at Lucien’s face, she was staring at the cups of tea that the maids were placing on the table in front of them.

“There is none. Just be aware that we will have to be the ones to start the dance since I am the organizer of this ball,” Giselle said nonchalantly. Once the maids were done setting the tea up, she grabbed a cup of tea and took a sip of it.

Lucien nodded again before letting his mind wander. He should have expected to start the dance with Giselle, but it still made him nervous all the same.

Seeing him deep in thought, Giselle was about to open her mouth to say something before they heard knocks from the door.

“Your Highness, His Grace the Duke Karron and his fiancée have arrived,” an attendant’s voice from outside said.


Lucien’s heart started racing. He hadn’t seen Siegfried Karron ever since that time when he fainted at the Renand residence, so he didn’t know how he should behave in front of him. Moreover, this was their first time meeting after Siegfried and Clara officially got engaged.

“Let them in,” Giselle instructed. She was sipping her tea again in an elegant manner as she said that.

The attendant opened the door, letting Duke Siegfried Hann Karron and Clara Benois into the room. The two of them did a curtsy to Giselle as soon as they stood in front of her.

“Greetings to Her Highness the Princess Giselle,” Siegfried said with his hand on his chest, while Clara just kept her head down by his side. Lucien also stood up in respect of the two of them.

“Raise your heads,” Giselle said.

The moment they did, Clara’s gaze met Lucien’s. She widened her eyes and gaped, like she didn’t expect to see him here, before her mouth turned into a wide grin.

Seeing that made Lucien can’t help but grin along.

Siegfried seemed to have noticed Lucien as well, so he gave him a bow.

“Greetings, Lord Renand. It is my pleasure to meet you again,” Siegfried said in his deep, calm voice.

“The pleasure is mine, Your Grace.” Lucien bowed as well.

“I must once again apologize to you for the discourtesy I showed your family the other day,” Siegfried said while bowing again.

“Oh, no, you have apologized enough, Your Grace,” Lucien said while shaking his hand fervently.

It was true. The day after that incident happened, Siegfried had sent a few gifts of apology to the Renand residence. An abundance of them, in fact.

CLINK. The sound of Giselle’s teacup rang out as she placed it back on its saucer.

“What brings you here?” she asked while wiping her lips with her handkerchief before giving it away to a maid.

“I thought it is just right for me to greet my younger cousin, who happens to be the organizer of this ball,” Siegfried said with a smile towards Giselle.

That stunned Lucien a little. All this time, his image of Siegfried was that of a terrifying God of Death, but it turned out he did know how to smile.

“Ridiculous,” Giselle said, crossing her arms and looking away.

“It is an honor to officially greet you, Your Highness. Please forgive me for the ill manners I showed you last time,” Clara said with her best smile. Her hands were put together in front of her stomach to show her respect towards Giselle.

It didn’t take Lucien too long to notice that Clara’s hands were shaking in nervousness and that putting them together was her effort to make it seem less obvious.

Giselle didn’t immediately answer and just took a glance at Clara from the corner of her eyes.

“It is wonderful to meet you as well, Lady Benois,” Giselle said as she stood up from her seat. Lucien stared at her sudden action with confusion. “Let us take our leave, Lord Renand.”

She turned straight away to the door and outside the room in hurried steps, leaving Lucien, Clara, and Siegfried behind.

“Sorry, Clara, I’ll talk to you later. Please excuse me, Your Grace,” Lucien said to the two of them before he rushed after Giselle.

When he glanced behind him, he saw Clara letting out a deep sigh and Siegfried saying something to her, which caused her to smile at him, before the door closed back up.