Claimer: Everything is ours.
Warnings: yaoi, language, vague bondage references. :D;;
It was starting to get much colder as Christmas neared, and the war efforts on the Hispanian frontier were suspended in preparation for the moths of cold soon to be descending. General Jacques Devereux was able to return to his home country at last, though many feared that he would not live to see Christmas morning. The General had returned for the explicit purpose of settling important military matters before his passing, and as he was a hard nosed man, he did not fear his approaching death.
Few civilians knew of the severity of his condition, and most went about their daily lives with an added bit of cheer as the holidays approached. For Colonel Perceval Rousseau however, the weeks before Christmas were a time of preparation; he was single-handedly planning his eleventh annual Christmas Eve Ball. The same could be said of the Universty students. For them, the Christmas break was a time for extra work; particularly for the students whose graduation would take place at the beginning of the New Year. Graduating students were expected to write a lengthy paper on their particular area of study; and in Viorica Hirlea’s case, the paper was explicit documentation on the implementation of modern medical techniques on soldiers in the military. Her thesis argued that Galian war heroes didn’t receive the state of the art treatment they deserved, and she hoped to draw enough attention to her work to encourage changes to be implemented. Her unwitting subject and example whom she used throughout the body of her work was of course none other then her older brother. As of late, Dragomir had been in a constant state giddiness, and it’d been easy to get him to tell her the details she needed to complete her paper. Her goal was to finish writing it by the end of Christmas Eve, and so as Dragomir readied himself to attend the Colonel’s Christmas Ball, she asked him the last few questions she needed.
“So, they really didn’t do anything for your arm on the field?” Viorica questioned, quill and paper in hand.
“No, nothing.” Dragomir said quickly as he tied his cravat. “Does this look straight?”
“Yes, it looks fine.” She said without looking. “I don’t think Niles is too concerned about that you know. It’s just your uniform after all.”
“What time is it?” Dragomir ignored her.
“Almost time. They did treat you on the airship, right? How good was the treatment?”
“Yeah, they took the bullet out and wrapped it up.” Dragomir was pulling on his shoes and not paying much attention. It was easiest to get answers when he was busy because otherwise he didn’t like to talk about it. “I guess it was pretty good.” He said straightening up. “Why are you so curious about it lately?”
“Niles should be here soon, Dragomir.” Tatiana reminded from the kitchen. A happy grin slid across Dragomir’s features and he grabbed his coat and swung it over his shoulders quickly.
“I’ll go wait outside for him.” he said excitedly.
Niles made his customary stop a street away from the Hirlea residence; he had been doing it less often now, on his way to work, but today was extra-special and he had to make sure he looked absolutely perfect. Today Dragomir was taking him to the Colonel's Christmas Ball, and Niles was practically glowing with excitement. This would be the first time they would go somewhere together, as a couple, and Niles wanted to make sure everything was absolutely perfect.
He had already checked his clothes over several times at home, even going so far as to ask his servants if he looked all right (though he got the feeling that they would have told him he did no matter what). The outfit he was wearing was brand new; he had gotten it especially for the occasion, and it consisted of a light green jacket with gold detailing and a maroon vest, as well as a matching green hair ribbon. There was gold thread on the hems of the lace at his neck and wrists, matching the gold buckles on his shoes. Overall, he was pleased with the outfit, and, as soon as he was pleased with the way his hair looked in the automobile mirror, he proceeded to drive the rest of the way to his destination.
He found Dragomir waiting outside when he arrived, which worried him slightly, due to the low temperature, and his worry only increased when he noticed the poor state of Dragomir's coat. Hurriedly pulling the automobile to a stop, he got out and smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting!"
“Not at all.” Dragomir said brightly, taking a moment to look over Niles’s latest outfit. It looked excellent on him, of course, as everything Niles wore did; the fit and cut were marvelous, and Dragomir couldn’t help but smile at the holiday themed colors. “I only just got out a minute ago.” He said taking a step forward and pressing a brief kiss to Niles’s lips. “You look really good tonight.” Dragomir said softly, drawing back.
Niles blushed slightly and smiled. "Thank you," he replied brightly, "I'm really glad you think so." Turning back towards the automobile, he asked, "Shall we go, then?" He made a careful point not to get the door for Dragomir and instead got back in the driver's seat, starting the engine back up. As he pulled away from the house and set off towards the Colonel's, he smiled as he remembered something. "Oh, and happy Christmas," he offered cheerfully, turning quickly to smile at Dragomir before returning his attention to the road.
Dragomir flashed a grin back at him happily. “Same to you.” He said cheerfully. This was gearing up to be a spectacular evening, Dragomir thought, and he could hardly contain his enthusiasm. “We’re still on for tomorrow evening too, right?” He couldn’t imagine that plans would have changed, but he couldn’t keep it form his mind and wanted to ask anyway. The last time he’d eaten with Niles at his estate had been potentially one of the best evenings he’d ever had, and he was looking forward to another dinner with Niles. During the couple of weeks since his visit, Dragomir felt that his relationship with Niles had strengthened, and it seemed to him that most of the awkwardness was resolved. For Dragomir, all the former feelings of unease had been replaced by pure excitement, and he was eager to spend as much time as possible with the other.
Niles nodded quickly. "Of course. And your family will be able to make it, as well?" For Christmas day, Niles had invited the whole Hirlea family to come to his home, and he was looking forward to the occasion. He had already eaten with them twice, and he was eager to return the invitation. Still, before he looked forward to that, he had tonight to look forward to, and it made it seem as if all these good things would never end. Smiling contentedly to himself, he tried to concentrate on remembering the directions, since they were getting close.
“Yeah. Viorica is finishing her paper tonight so she’ll be ready for tomorrow.” Dragomir nodded with a grin. It would be nice to have the his family with them, especially when it came to at least partially filling that massive table Niles had, but Dragomir was hoping he’d get a little time with just Niles. Of course, that’s what tonight was for, too. Even though they were attending a large party, Dragomir was confident they’d find some time just for them. “It looks like even Pierre will be coming.” Dragomir said with a sarcastic smile. Previously, Pierre had said he’d rather have Christmas dinner by himself then go to Niles’s for dinner; he was convinced that Niles only wanted them over to make them feel miserable in comparison. However, Tatiana had managed to convince him to give it a shot, much to both Viorica and Dragomir’s supreme disappointment.
Niles smiled. "Good, I'm glad they'll be able to make it. Even Pierre," he added with a little laugh. About a month earlier, Niles had been in an extreme state of worry as to what to get Dragomir for a Christmas gift, and had been asking the advice of every person readily available, which included Pierre. Unfortunately for Niles, Pierre had tried to and almost successfully tricked him into believing that he should give Dragomir coal for Christmas. Viorica, luckily for him, had straightened him out, and proceeded to verbally abuse Pierre for the next half hour before actually giving him advice. Now, though, he had a gift for Dragomir, and the occasion had given him the perfect idea for a gift for Pierre.
Niles was also looking forward to being able to spend time alone with Dragomir before the whole family was there, also, however, and he was back to bubbling again as the pulled up in front of the Colonel's estate. Getting out of the automobile and allowing the servant to take the keys, he walked around to the other side and waited for Dragomir to get out, smiling brightly.
Dragomir wished he could take Niles’s arm and escort him to the door, but he knew it would be much better to remain discrete and settled for walking very close to Niles instead as the servant led them through the door and into the entry way where another servant was waiting to take their coats. Yet another servant escorted them to they ballroom where they were greeted extravagantly by Colonel Rousseau, who was dressed in varying shades of white and ivory which glimmered flamboyantly. Dragomir reluctantly went through the routine greeting of faked kisses and quickly introduced Niles as his guest once again.
“So this is becoming a habit, I see.” The Colonel said lifting his eyebrows and raising a hand to his mouth. “You’ve got to be careful or there may be gossip.” He laughed lightly. It was obvious that the Colonel was just making small talk and taking advantage to poke a little fun, but Dragomir knew he would blush anyway, and hide it with a deep and formal bow. “Come now, Lieutenant. This is a party; don’t be so formal.” Colonel Rousseau’s voice was tight and Dragomir marveled at how unbelievably fickle the Colonel was. Nevertheless, he smiled politely and thanked him for the invitation.
Once the Colonel was engaged in greeting another guest, Dragomir at last had the opportunity to admire the decorations. The ballroom looked as stunning as it had before, but this time it was decorated lavishly to fit a winter theme. Snowflake-shaped paper confetti had been sprinkled across the dance floor and every banister and balustrade was toped with thick fake snow. Hanging from the three crystal chandeliers and dangling form the bottom of the balcony were hundreds of immaculate cut glass icicles which glimmered in the soft light. Beautiful evergreen wreaths hung around the large room, and holly was woven through the blusters. Mistletoe too was hung in abundance, and Dragomir couldn’t help but smirk at the ideas it brought to mind. With all the white and sparkles, the ballroom seemed much more subdued then before, although the decoration was outrageous. It all seemed very winery and pleasant, and Dragomir found himself quite impressed.
Turning to look down at Niles, Dragomir smiled at the nostalgia of it all as he asked, “Can I get you a drink?”
"Oh, yes, please, thank you," Niles responded with a smile, still blushing slightly from the Colonel's insinuation. He trotted along at Dragomir's heels towards the tables, this time covered with winter-themed foods. There were trays covered with delicately arranged pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar, and carefully sculpted marzipan snowflakes, as well as whole winter scenes made out of various candies. His attention was drawn away, however, when Dragomir pressed a glass into his hands, and he smiled at the other man. "These decorations really are amazing, aren't they?"
“Yeah.” Dragomir agreed, helping himself to the marzipan. “The Colonel really goes all out with these things, doesn’t he?” He took another look around and then made a quick step closer to Niles leaning so he could speak in a low voice. “I’m not worried, or anything, but you don’t think he said what he did because he’s been talking to the Major, do you?”
Niles blinked. "I-I hope not," he replied in softly. The idea really hadn't crossed his mind, and it really didn't seem like the Major would tell on them. Still, the thought was worrisome, and he bit his lip nervously. "It didn't seem like what he said was of much consequence, did it?" He looked worriedly at Dragomir, hoping he would agree. Dragomir was better at reading people than he was, anyway.
“That’s what I thought at first, too, but then I started thinking about it because I realized that you can’t really tell anything based on what Colonel says…” Dragomir bit his lip as well and looked around quickly. “It’s like he’s always lying.” It was of some concern, but judging by the fact Colonel Rousseau didn’t actually do anything, Dragomir assumed they’d at least not have to be concerned about anything this evening, and he wanted to enjoy it. He shouldn’t be worrying about stuff like that anyway; they’d been careful, and he didn’t think the Major would be one to go and talk with the Colonel, regardless of what she thought she knew…or what they thought she knew. Summoning up a grin, he took a handful of marzipan and offered some to Niles. “I guess it’s not much of a big deal. Or at least not something we need to be worrying about tonight, as far as I’m concerned, anyway.”
Niles agreed with Dragomir; it did seem as if the Colonel was never telling the truth, but it also didn't seem as if there were going to be any consequences, at least not immediately, so accepted the candy with a nod. "I agree. We should enjoy ourselves here, don't you think?" He offered a sweet smile before trying a bite of on of the delicate candy snowflakes. It was slightly sweeter than the candy last time he had attended one of these parties, and the taste seemed to sum up his feelings right now. Worries forgotten, he became once again effervescent and grasped Dragomir's hand, tugging a little. "Let's go find a place to sit down, okay?"
Dragomir’s grin spread wider and he gladly let Niles led the way to the stairs up to the balconies. They found that the one they’d sat in the time they’d attended one of the Colonel’s party was unoccupied. Dragomir deposited his stash of marzipan and champagne glass onto the table and took a seat, purposefully extremely close to Niles. “This was a good idea, Niles.” Dragomir said, smirking slightly as he leaned in close to the other. “It’ll be much nicer up here sitting with you, than pretending to dance, and wishing it were with you.” As he finished speaking, Dragomir let his eyes slide shut before kissing Niles lightly on the lips. He pulled back slowly and smiled contentedly, not wanting to break eye contact with Niles. When he did at last, however, he practically through himself back, trying in vain to hide what he was sure had been seen.
Standing but a few feet away from then was none other then Major Delancy. Panicked, Dragomir got to his feet quickly and bowed clumsily, hoping against hope that she hadn’t been standing there long.
“M-Major! You look fabulous tonight, sir!” Dragomir said abruptly. It probably wasn’t going to do much good, but it was the best he thought he could manage—and at least he wouldn’t have to lie by offering a complement. The Major was wearing a stunning red dress with gold and layered lace trim. Her hair was pulled up and back, and she wore a plain and yet classic garnet necklace with matching earrings. She really did look good tonight… Dragomir just wished it had been under different circumstances that they’d run into her.
Niles practically had a heart attack when he realized that the major had been watching them the whole time, flushing completely and finding himself speechless. He also stood abruptly, but found himself unable to do anything else. This was very bad...they were surely in trouble now...
Then the Major laughed, smiling congenially at them. "Why, thank you, Lieutenant" she replied to Dragomir, nodding, "Although it seems as if you and the Corporal are having a much more enjoyable time than I." She grinned mischievously as Niles turned another shade of red. Laughing again, she gestured vaguely with one hand at their state of worry. "Come now, boys, as much fun as it is to tease you, I'm not going to turn you in. What do you expect of me, really?"
Niles, still incapable of words, just stared at her. She really wasn't going to tell on them? Finally finding his tongue, he managed a "R-really, sir?"
“You-You’re not?” Dragomir said stupidly as he wrung his hands. He really hoped she was telling the truth, and he felt that they could defiantly trust her, but he couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about it all, considering the sensitivity of the situation, and decided he ought to justify their position slightly. “We’re doing everything we can not to break too many rules sir, and we’re being careful, and we really haven’t done anything wrong, and so it’d really mean a lot if you…if you didn’t mind, sir.” Dragomir dropped into a deep bow again, feeling embarrassed and realizing that he’d spoken far too fast for polite discourse.
The Major waved a hand dismissively, shaking her head with a grin. "Really, Lieutenant, I'm not too worried. Fraternization is far from my concerns when it comes to the workplace. Rarely anyone cares these days anyway," she added, with a roll of her eyes, "and I don't think you'll need to worry about a whole lot of favouritism, since Corporal Christian is really your only direct subordinate." She smirked, shrugging. "Not that, of course, it wasn't already blatantly obvious to me, anyway, but it's nice to know that I'm not losing my touch."
Niles stared for a moment before he remembered himself. "Ah-Thank you, sir!" he replied hurriedly, bowing.
"Not at all," the Major replied with a wave, smiling. "Besides, it's a personal opinion of mine that you shouldn't let silly rules get in the way of something so important." Walking past them, she leaned over the railing to look at the dance floor below. "So, are you boys enjoying yourselves?"
“Umm, yes sir.” Dragomir said with an uneasy smile, as he reached for Niles’s hand semi-unconsciously. Dragomir was both relieved and a little stunned by the way the Major was handling everything, and he was having a bit of trouble adjusting because he’d been expecting a much harsher reaction. Still, it was reassuring to know that she knew and that it didn’t trouble her, and that made him feel a lot more at ease. “We only got here a little while ago, sir, but the party seems really nice.” With a stronger smile, Dragomir gave Niles’s hand a light squeeze and led him over to the edge of the balcony, joining the Major in looking over the dance floor. “Thank you for understanding, Major. And for everything else you’ve done for us.” Dragomir kept his voice low, but smiled his brightest. She really was the reason everything had worked out between them, and the fact that she wasn’t court marshalling them now would be the reason everything between them would continue to work out. They really owed her a lot.
Major Delancy nodded, a warm smile on her face, before her expression turned smug. "Yes, you boys really owe me a lot. That means no complaining when I give you extra paperwork, got it?" She chuckled in a rather disturbing fashion, but Niles barely even took note. He was in such a state of relief that they weren't going to get in trouble that next to nothing could dampen his mood. "Thank you, sir," he added softly, hanging close to Dragomir's side. "I never got a chance to say so, but...you really were what saved me before, and now...I'm very grateful."
"Really, don't worry about it. I'm not going to crush true love or anything like that," the Major replied with a laugh. "Just no complaining when I make you work." Her laugh grew softer as she looked out onto the dance floor with an expression that Niles could almost classify as wistful, and he wondered exactly what she was thinking.
Dragomir grinned at her, glad for the lighter mood. He followed her gaze for a moment before letting his eyes wonder across the expansive room freely. He watched a few couples go about the Minuet before something caught his eye. Colonel Rousseau was still greeting new arrivals it seemed, and Dragomir imagined that the slight flush of anger he was showing might be do to their audacity to show up late to his party, but the fact that Dragomir could tell that he was shaking from this distance proved there had to be something else. He looked quickly at the two guests the Colonel was offering his greetings to, a young man and a woman with red hair, but didn’t recognize either of them. As they made their way onto the dance floor, Colonel Rousseau turned and followed them with a cold, cold stare. If looks like that could kill someone, he thought, those two may have died a thousand times over. Whoever could inspire that much hatred in Colonel Rousseau—generally the model of congeniality, had to be worth knowing. “Major, do you know who that is, with the red hair?” Dragomir gestured. “Whoever she is, she and the man she came in with seemed to have made the Colonel furious.” He laughed openly at the thought.
Major Delancy followed his glance, and scowled fiercely when she saw of whom he was speaking. "Oh. That's Alice Johnson, a Warrant Officer. I'm not sure why, but she and the Colonel are huge enemies." She gave the Warrant Officer another foul look before crossing her arms and looking elsewhere.
"I...take it you don't like her much, either, sir," Niles commented, still watching the redhead. She was dressed in an ostentatious shade of pink, with large jewels the sparkled even from where they were. Just judging from her clothes, she didn't seem like the kind of woman the Major would get along with."
The Major pursed her lips distastefully. "I can't stand her. She's the most un-feminist person I've ever met. She has some sort of strange notion that women ought to submit to men and do anything those dolts tell us. Can you believe it?" She gave them a look of such utter indignation that Niles didn't know what to do besides nod. Honestly, it was something he had never thought on before, but if the Major felt so strongly about it, he figured it would be best just to agree.
Major Delancy nodded. "Anyway, there are plenty of rumours as to why she and Colonel Rousseau can't get along, although I don't subscribe to any of them. He must really hate her, though, since he usually can act properly around anyone." She shrugged. "It's not something I lose sleep over."
Dragomir chuckled lightly. “I make a point of staying out of their politics myself, sir. It seems like is just a huge mess to me.” It was nice to see their officer so at ease; unfortunately, Dragomir found that he often forgot that apart from being their superior, she was also not only a woman, but a very interesting one at that. She was someone whom he hoped his already headstrong younger sister might someday emulate; Major Delancy’s unyielding feminism was admirable, and he hoped Viorica would grow into the same fierce determination. “Anyway, it’s interesting that a Warrant Officer could be cause for so much grief for the Colonel.” Dragomir laughed again and leaned to retrieve Niles’s glass, handing it to the other before reaching for his own and taking a sip. Though it was nice to see the Major outside of work, Dragomir wanted to spend more time alone with Niles before returning to the party, and so opted to push a slightly personal question forward. “Sir, did you come with anyone tonight?” The question would hopefully serve the duel purpose of satisfying a bit of his curiosity as well as completing his objective.
"Of course not," Major Delancy replied, scoffing. "I don't have to bring some male idiot just because society says that I should." She sighed, leaning on the railing slightly. "And I'm not any good at dancing, nor do I have any desire to try. So I've had nothing to do but sit around and eat and drink... Guess I shouldn't bother and ask what you boys have been up to." She smirked slightly at them, then sighed again and turned. "Well, I'm going to go find something else to drink. Au revoir for now boys." She gave a half wave and walked away.
Niles blinked at her back. He looked up at Dragomir half-embarrassedly, laughing slightly. "Do-do you think she was a little... um... drunk?" It surprised him that the Major had such a strong personality, since he had never really thought about what she might be like outside of work.
“I’m quite sure she was.” Dragomir laughed. “I thought she would have come with someone, though. But really, I think it’s good that she isn’t with someone just to follow the rules.” His sister had been betrothed to Pierre before she’d even turned ten years old, and as a result of their union and his eventual hatred of Pierre, Dragomir had grown thoroughly against betrothal. He was glad the Major wouldn’t have to endure an imposed marriage and could still be successful. Dragomir smiled briefly at Niles and took his seat again, setting his glass down after toping it off. “You know, speaking of not following the rules…” Dragomir smirked as he turned to face Niles, who’d taken a seat next to him, and leaned in closer. “Why don’t we get back to what we were doing earlier?” Dragomir leaned forward slowly and pressed anther kiss to Niles’s lips. This time, they wouldn’t be interrupted.
Niles leaned up into the kiss, blushing slightly and wrapping his arms around Dragomir's neck. It was good to have some time alone together, with no one there to interrupt. When they pulled apart, Niles didn't release his hold, instead resting his head against Dragomir's chest, sighing contentedly. He was silent for a moment, relishing in the closeness to the other man, before he spoke softly. "I really wish I could dance with you. That would make this evening even more perfect." He laughed softly at his own wishful thinking, and smiled sheepishly up at Dragomir.
Dragomir grinned broadly, and idea coming to mind. “I think that can be arranged.” He said rather slyly, getting to his feet and pulling Niles up as well. “Come with me.” He said eagerly. They made their way back down the stairs and on to the ballroom floor. Staying close to the walls, not wanting to get in the way of the dance, Dragomir led Niles around the perimeter of the room and over to the large panned glass windows. Flashing a quick grin at Niles, Dragomir slipped open the door and pulled Niles out into the chill night air. Just as he’d suspected, the glass only slightly muffled the musicians' instruments, and the music could still be heard clearly. “If we’re outside, no one will notice that we’re dancing together.” Dragomir explained, leading Niles down the stairs from the veranda and onto the grounds. “We can even still hear the music.” He said brightly, releasing Niles’s hand and walking the appropriate distance away. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as the current piece came to a conclusion and a new one started. Dragomir bowed deeply, and straightened with a slight smirk. “May I have the honor of this next dance?”
A feeling of happiness bubbling up inside of him, Niles felt a smile spread across his face. "Of course," he replied, bowing back before smiling brightly at Dragomir. He didn't think he could stop smiling if he wanted to; he was so overwhelmed by the simple happy feeling of being able to get around the rules this way.
As the violin joined in with the other instruments, they both moved to take a step forward, momentarily forgetting that one of them would have to adjust to the female part. Dragomir lacked familiarity and practice, and tried to run though the dance in his head to figure out what his partner would have done at first but found himself a little lost in it all. Luckily, Niles seemed to know how it should have gone, and quickly adjusted his step. With a little uneasy laugh, Dragomir started again moving so that they were back in time with the music and each other. “Thanks,” Dragomir grinned as he got used to the step, transitioning into the Half Coupee. “I couldn’t figure out how to do it backwards.”
Now that they had their positions worked out, they progressed though the dance effortlessly; gracefully moving though all the transitions with ease. Dragomir was surprised by how much better he seemed to be doing with this dance—moving in time with Niles and remembering his steps seemed so much easier then it had been with another partner. Dragomir was sure it had to have something to do with just how skilled Niles was at the dance, but thought that it might also come from the fact that he was really and truly enjoying the dancing for the first time in his life. “You know, the last time we were here, I kept messing up because I was trying to watch you dance.” Dragomir smiled, blushing slightly at Niles. “You’re really good at it.”
Niles blushed deeply, almost stumbling. "I- I'm flattered... I- I had no idea," he admitted, smiling sweetly at Dragomir. "I- I spent the whole time wishing I could be dancing with you last time." Laughing lightly, he added, "I guess this time is better for both of us."
The time passed quickly, since Niles was so involved with the dance, and with Dragomir, and soon, the dance drew to a close. He was a little sad, but soon began to realize that he was getting rather cold in the night air. Hugging his arms around his waist, he smiled sheepishly. "I guess it's a little cold out here, isn't it?"
“Yeah,” Dragomir shivered, rubbing his arms vigorously. Enduring the chill had been worth it, though to get to dance with Niles. The whole movement had been amazing, as far as Dragomir was concerned, and if it wasn’t for the clod, he probably would have wanted to dance the next one as well. However, even the cold served its purpose. With a smirk, Dragomir took a few paces forward and wrapped his arms around Niles. “We should help each other warm up before we go inside, don’t you think?”
Niles started slightly as he felt warm arms wrap around him, but quickly settled into Dragomir's embrace. "Yes, I agree," he replied softly, hesitantly slipping his arms around Dragomir and holding him tightly. "I think that's a very good idea."
Algernon's car sped through the darkness, heading towards the Rousseau estate. His calm exterior as he stared placidly out the window was a perfect mask for the almost-excitement that was welling inside of him. General Jaques Devereux was dead. It was about time, too; Algernon had been taking care of him for the past week, even going so far as to miss work near the end. But it had all been worth it in the end, as Algernon had known it would be. He had been planning and preparing for this since childhood, and now it was all paying off.
He arrived at the party almost 2 hours late, but he knew Perceval wouldn't mind, especially once he had heard the news. Just in case, however, he had made himself look especially good, dressing all in pale blue and silver. He was glad he would be able to enjoy himself tonight, since tomorrow he would have to go into mourning. But no one would know about the death until tomorrow, and so, for tonight, he was free.
He stepped out of the car confidently, Christmas gift for Perceval in hand, allowing his driver to take the car away. He allowed himself to be led inside, and quickly located the host among the mass of guests. Striding over to him, he smiled cordially. "Hello, Colonel."
“Sir!” Perceval exclaimed excitedly. For once, he didn’t have to fake his surprise and elation. He bowed deeply and smiled his best. “How wonderful that you could make it to my humble party this evening, sir.” If Algernon was here now, and not with General Devereux, there could only be good news. “I had just about given up all hope of seeing you tonight. I hope sir, that it is with good tidings that you are able to attend?” Perceval didn’t bother to restrain the small smirk that was sliding across his features. He knew he’d have to wait until after the party to speak at length with Algernon, but he also knew he wouldn’t be able to wait to hear the answer. Cocking his head slightly, he tried after the fact to force his expression to one of innocent curiosity, but he found it difficult to contain his excitement.
Algernon smiled. "Indeed, Colonel Rousseau," he agreed. Then, lowering his voice to a volume that no one could possibly hear over the noises of the party, he added, "I am now General Comandant of the Galian military. What do you think of that, Percy?" Taking a step away, with a final smirk, he said, formal again, "I hope I will have another chance to talk with you later this evening, Colonel?"
Perceval drew in a quick breath and momentarily gave up all pretences of acting politely interested. Good tidings indeed, he smirked to himself. This was fantastic news. It wouldn’t be long until things would start to come together for Algernon, and Perceval could hardly wait. Now of course, he would have to, and so he took a deep breath and tried to regain composure. The satisfied smirk would not be dismissed however, nor would the slight glint of excitement in his eye. “Of course, sir.” Perceval bowed again. “Once again, I thank you for coming, and hope that your schedule will permit you to stay as late as is feasible.”
Algernon nodded. "Of course, of course," he agreed, turning to walk away. "As late as possible."
The party went on for hours, and Algernon managed to amuse himself, eating and drinking and listening to people talk, but he couldn't deny that he was glad when 1 am rolled around. The final guests were departing, and the servants were moving in to clean and clear away, and so Algernon was free to seek out Perceval for an extended period of time. He found the other man giving orders to some servants, and placed a hand on his shoulder to get his attention. "Hello, Percy."
Perceval spun around quickly and smiled excitedly. “Hello General Comandant.” He emphasized the title, relishing the sound of it and the implications behind it. It was wonderful day today; one that Perceval was sure would be remembered throughout history. Algernon’s rule would change the world, and now that he was that much closer, Perceval could hardly believe their good fortune. Of course, tonight was also Christmas Eve, and so aside from the fantastic news, the occasion for the evening was also of significance. “I’m so glad you could stay, sir.” He bowed quickly, rather impatiently, as he turned to finish giving instructions to his servants. With that taken care of, he returned his attention to Algernon. “Shall we move upstairs? I have a present for you.” Perceval smiled sweetly.
"A wonderful suggestion," Algernon agreed with a nod, his lips curling into a smile at his new title. "And fancy that, I have a gift for you as well." He followed Perceval out of the ballroom and upstairs to an unoccupied room. He made sure to shut the door behind them before walking up beside Perceval and nipping softly at his neck. "Merry Christmas, Percy. Did you have fun at your little party?" He had been excited about all the good news before, but now that he was here with Perceval, everything seems a hundred times better.
Perceval purred his appreciation. "Mmm...not until you arrived." He said dreamily. "That horrible Warrant Officer managed to get herself invited as a guest and came looking for you." Perceval pouted. "I hardly knew what to do. The whole event may have been ruined by that despicable scum if you hadn't managed to come...and with such good news, too." Perceval smirked slightly, delighted by the thought. Fumbling behind him blindly, not wanting to break his contact with Algernon, Perceval managed to retrieve a neatly wrapped package which he'd placed earlier on a sofa for the occasion of Algernon's arrival. "This is for you, my dear Comandant."
"Why, thank you. How thoughtful of you," Algernon said, accepting the parcel with a smile. It was, of course, perfectly wrapped and the ribbon perfectly tied; he knew not to expect any less from Perceval. He tore away the paper slowly, relishing for a brief moment in the ruining of it, before setting the paper aside and opening the revealed box.
Inside, he found two black leather straps with metal clasps, each about a foot long. It didn't take him long to realize what they were to be used for, and a wicked smirk slipped across his face. "You outdo yourself, Percy. I'm sure these will prove to be very useful."
His eyes lingered on the other man for another moment before he then extended his own package to the Colonel. "And now. This is for you, Percy." He smiled, anticipating his gift being opened.
“I had hoped so.” Perceval said innocently, with a little bow and slight smirk before accepting the gift Algernon handed him. He undid the ribbon slowly and neatly folded it over his arm before turning the wrapped box over and sliding a nail beneath the fold to remove the adhesive carefully and without tearing the paper. Once the paper was removed, folded, and placed to the side, Perceval lifted the lid off of the box slowly, and slid back the tissue paper carefully, savoring his anticipation. Inside the box was a delicate golden bracelet. It was a thin band, with an ornate inlay of small stones set into a faint etched floral pattern. Lifting the bracelet from the box, Perceval admired the craftsmanship and overall enticing beauty of the bracelet before turning quickly to Algernon, his eyes gleaming with appreciation. “It’s beautiful, thank you so much.” Perceval murmured, returning his gaze to the bracelet. As he examined it closer, he noticed a small padlock, and looked back to Algernon mischievously. “I can venture a guess at how this works.” He smirked softly with excitement, holding the bracelet out to Algernon delicately and extending a slender wrist forward.
A smirk crept onto Algernon's face as he accepted the bracelet. Carefully securing it around Perceval's wrist, he then slipped a small, golden key from his pocket and inserted it into the lock which replaced a clasp. After locking it, took the key out, smirking at it for a moment before slowly returning it to his pocket. Admiring his gift on Perceval's wrist, he looked up at the other man. "It suits you well, Percy," he murmured, not releasing his wrist, instead bringing it to his lips and pressing a small kiss to it.
"To hear that from you, I know it must look exceptional." Perceval sighed rather dreamily, letting his eyes drift closed as shiver of delight ran through him. The soft kiss and gesture of affection provided such a lovely contrast to Algernon's general manner, and Perceval found himself craving a slightly more stimulating touch as well. Opening his eyes slowly, he allowed himself to gaze into Algernon's eyes and let his lips part slightly in a sultry pout.
"Well, aren't we greedy tonight," Algernon said somewhat amusedly, acknowledging Perceval's expression with an eerie smile. Moving around behind the other man, Algernon wrapped his arms around his slender waist and pulled him close, moving to bite softly at his ear. "Did I mention that you look absolutely stunning tonight?" he murmured, "White suits you perfectly."
Moaning lightly, Perceval leaned back into the Algernon’s embrace and angled his head, exposing more of his neck. Perceval ran his hands over Algernon’s arms and rested them against his hands, squeezing lightly as he basked in the closeness and of the embrace. “You look magnificent tonight yourself…” Perceval said breathily. “…like you could rule a nation.”
A smirk sliding across his face, Algernon moved slowly to indulge in the newly exposed flesh, pleased with the small red marks that were already appearing. "Fancy that..." he murmured softly, his facial expression sliding into a distantly pleased one. "Fancy that..."