Chapter 1 // Chapter 2 // Chapter 3 // Chapter 4 // Chapter 5
Chapter 6 // Chapter 7 // Chapter 8

Chapter 7: The ball

The helicopter had landed and Sebille was feeling a little nervous. She fiddled with the mask, making sure it was perfectly placed and didn’t show anything that it wasn’t supposed to. Null stepped out and offered his hand to her, which she took and carefully got down to the ground. It had been her first helicopter ride ever but it hadn’t been all that exciting, since she couldn’t really see anything in the dark. Apparently, this place was just as secluded as Null’s mansion as there had not been much of any lights to be seen from the air. Null had given her instructions on what not to say, he didn’t want anybody to know things they shouldn’t just because Sebille got chatty. The warnings he’d given her were the ones that made her nervous, though. She had known this could be potentially dangerous because of the people attending, but it had only really hit her now that they were there.

They walked down a well lit path and Sebille took note of how similar this garden looked to the one at Null’s mansion, the only noticeable difference was that there were more lights here and not all of them were on the ground. There were no dark corners and paths that seemed like they were following you with their empty eyes, no, everything was bright and well-lit. They took a left turn and the building emerged; it was huge and made of stone, and this time she could say it was a castle: it had towers. Sebille stopped in awe but was softly nudged to move by Null, “Oh lord… This place is huge, and gorgeous.” Null led her to the front entrance and they walked up the fancy stone steps that were cleared of snow. There was a masked man on top of the stairs holding some sort of a list; he ticked off names as guests gave him their invitations. He seemed arrogant and took his time looking at each invitation carefully, as if he wanted to turn someone back at the door. Sebille whispered to Null; “Do we have an invitation?” She wouldn’t want to be turned back as they'd just got there. “Don’t need one.” Sebille wondered what he'd meant and looked at the masked man again.
When they stepped onto the top step, the man barely glanced at them and announced; “Your invitation.” with his hand out in front. Null reached to the inside pocket of his suit and pulled out his necklace –luckily Sebille had brought it with her. The man looked at it indifferently at first and then, you could see it even though he wore a mask: his eyes widened so much that Sebille was sure they’d pop out of his head soon. “A-a-and the l-lady, s-s-sir?” the man stuttered. “My date.” “Y-yes, o-of course, sir, please g-go on right ahead. Sir.” he bowed extravagantly and opened his arm towards the door. Sebille smiled secretly to herself.

They entered the castle and another masked man, though a much more modest looking, came to take Sebille’s coat. The hall was spacious and well-lit, very unlike Null’s mansion, but it made sense; it was a ball with hundreds of guests, of course there’d be lights. They walked towards another, much bigger looking hall and Sebille’s heels clattered on the white marble floor, while Null still made no sound. People took notice of them as soon as they entered; some viewed Sebille and her dress, but most looked at Null. Although he was wearing a mask most of them seemed to recognize him. It would’ve been much more strange if they didn’t; he was taller than anybody else, his movement was fluid, and that combined with his deep silver eyes didn’t leave much room for guessing. “You’re quite well-known, aren’t you?” Sebille pointed out under her breath. Null grunted and walked her towards a less occupied area of the dance hall. Sebille scanned the room as they walked through it; on the far corner an orchestra was tuning their instruments, on two of the walls there were tables filled with dishes of pastries and confectioneries, the ceiling was unbelievably high with electric chandeliers hanging down low. It was as if they were in a fairy tale.

As they made their way through the dance floor, other masked guests turned to look at them and started whispering. “Don’t you ever come here? They look so surprised” She asked and smiled as they walked. “No.” He didn’t seem especially pleased to be there now either. Sebille turned her attention to the other guests; many were wearing vintage clothes with a touch of modern fashion, the whole hall was filled with colour and sound of people talking. She had been to parties and events before but never had she seen anything like this. The orchestra begun playing a slow melody and one by one, couples started dancing to it. Sebille watched the dance floor fill with colour and movement and then turned to look at Null, who was now leaning against a pillar.
Sebille had gotten some looks from some of the men, potential dance partners, but Null seemed to scare them away. “Oh lighten up, your face is like a storm cloud, this way nobody will approach us.” She smiled. “Good” he snorted. “It’s not good. It’s not a party if we don’t dance and mingle a little.” And just as she’d finished her sentence a masked man with brown eyes and black hair approached them. He walked to Null and spoke; “Null, old friend! I haven’t seen you here in years. How have you been, my friend?” he smiled with his mouth but not with his eyes. Sebille raised her left eyebrow, though nobody could see it due to her mask, and Null stared down at the man coldly, making it clear that he was no friend of Null’s. A sworn enemy seemed to be a more accurate title by the look of Null’s eyes. “The same as always, I see.” He then, turned to Sebille and bowed exaggeratedly “And who, may I ask, is this beautiful lady with sapphires for eyes?” he took her hand and kissed it. Null gave him the most murderous look Sebille had ever seen but the man ignored it completely. “You flatter me, good sir.” She said theatrically and pressed her fingers softly against her chest, “But I would not be wearing this mask, sir, if I wanted my identity to be known to everyone. No. I’m sorry to say I can not reveal it, even to you, good sir.” She sighed just as exaggeratedly as the man had bowed.

It was all so pretentious and she loved it. The man had caught on her play and flashed her a devious smile. Null, however, was not at all pleased about the turn of events. “Would you like to dance, my fair lady?” he finally asked. “Oh, I’d be delighted!” she replied and gave Null a long stare saying that she’d be just fine; he wasn’t pleased about it but let them go. The man was wearing an expensive looking black suit and even more expensive leather Gucci’s to go with it, he moved with elegance comparable to Null’s and lead her to a skilful dance. Sebille made sure they’d stay in Null’s line of vision at all times and the man, smart as he was, realized this but didn’t try to fight against it. “I have never seen Null here before with a lady such as yourself...” He tried to start a conversation, possibly leading to some information useful to him, but unfortunately for him, Sebille was prepared for such questions; “Oh really?” she said looking surprised, “He’s such a darling I was sure he’d brought all of his girls here.” She even went so far as to conjure up her most air headed expression lacking everything that could be called intelligence. The man seemed to be taken aback by the sudden change in her but quickly collected himself again. He tried asking her similar questions several more times but each time he looked at her, all he got back was complete lack of intellect, and everything that came out of her mouth was so trivial that he almost grated his teeth each time she spoke.

Other men had taken notice of her being away from Null and some seemed to be waiting for the right moment to ask her to change partners. And finally, when a gentleman in red asked her to dance, the poor black suited man was so disappointed that he looked like he was ready to roar. She wasn’t sure if he thought that she was an absolute air head or if she was just too clever to fall to his trap. Sebille switched partners time and time again in the following minutes. Some tried to get her to say something like the first man had and got a taste of her plain stupidity, while others just wanted to dance and exchange pleasantries. Some didn’t notice how Sebille steered them to stay in Null’s vicinity, and other did but they didn’t dare to do anything to prevent it. Sebille glanced at Null from time to time and saw him talking to some of the staff, she was almost sure he was giving them instructions on something.
Finally, Sebille came across a dance partner that just would not let her steer the dance in the direction she wanted it to go, she could feel them entering the mass of other dancers and was sure that the man was doing this on purpose; trying to get her as far away from Null as possible. Sebille went for plan B and quickly separated herself from him. She curtsied hurriedly; “I’m sorry, sir, I’m not feeling altogether well…” she had her hand cover her mouth and dashed to the side of the hall. She headed for the restroom that was outside the dance hall and wasn’t at all surprised to see a staff member follow her from the corner of her eye.

Sebille entered the ladies room with three masked women in front of the mirror, and they all turned to look at her. She got some nervous smiles aimed in her direction and several questions about her coming with Null. She women didn’t try to pump her for information, at least not in the same way as the men; they were mainly just interested in why she was with him. Apparently they had all heard of Null and according to them, nobody in this party was unaware of who he was, although he rarely came. Sebille didn’t really give any of them any definite answers and worked to change the nature of the conversation to a more innocent and shallow manner.
She ended up leaving the restroom with the three ladies, since they seemed nice enough. For the following hour they danced occasionally and gossiped about everyone else’s dresses. Sebille got some useful information, such as: Mr X, always wore the same brown suit that looked like a moth’s nest, and: Missus Y got fatter every year.

Sebille was in the middle of a fervent discussion about the hugeness of Miss Z’s hairdo, when she suddenly felt hands on her shoulders, she turned her head slightly to the right and her eyes turned distant. The ladies in her company took a quick step back and fell silent as Null leaned down to Sebille’s ear and whispered; “We’re leaving. Go to the front hall.” There was something final in his voice and Sebille didn’t feel compelled to argue. He strolled away into the mass of people and Sebille turned back to the three women; “I’m sorry ladies, I was delighted to meet you, but I must get going now. We might meet again next year.” She smiled, curtsied swiftly and turned around, leaving the ladies looking rather bewildered.
Sebille was a little worried about the way Null had told her to go and wait for him. She walked quickly, but not so quickly that it would look suspicious. She also drew quite a number of open looks, that she wasn’t in the mood to enjoy, from the other guests. She was now back in the first hall and the same man who had taken her coat brought it back to her. Sebille didn’t have to wait long before she saw Null emerge with long footfalls. He took her hand without saying a word and led her to the front garden. “What’s the matter?” She asked a little worriedly. “Someone arrived.” He led her back to the side of the castle and then to the helicopter. She took notice of another, rather extravagantly painted chopper by the one they had arrived in. “Someone dangerous, I suspect?” “Very.

They sat in the copter side by side. Sebille was a little disappointed that they’d had to leave so soon, but also very happy about them coming. “I’ve never been to a ball that huge… Oh, it was amazing.” She was all smiles and not even Null could stay completely neutral while she went on about how she’d love everything. “I didn’t get to dance with you, though…” she finally said. “I don’t dance.” “Oh, but you should.
During the ride she told him almost everything and Null actually laughed (okay, sneered) when she described the black suited man’s last expression. “I’m pretty sure they all think I’m an airhead now… You’d better make it up to m--” She never got to finish the sentence since Null had bent down and kissed her.

They got back to the mansion close to midnight and Sebastian opened the door for them, “How was the party?” he inquired politely. “It was lovely.” Sebille smiled and caught the butler completely off guard by hugging him. She then removed her coat and headed towards the bedroom with Null, but stopped when they stepped on the second floor; “Wait.” Null halted as well and turned to look at his woman. “You owe me a dance. And I know you can, so no excuses.” she gave him a long, steady look and Null sighed. He always lost to her.
They danced down the dimly lit hallway, the only sound coming from Sebille’s heels hitting the wooden floor and her dress sweeping the floor and nearby walls. Null operated the bedroom door open with one hand and they danced inside, with Sebille kicking the door closed after themselves. He pushed her down on the bed and got on top, while Sebille laughed. Nulls hat fell off his head when turned to look at her. She was at a loss of words; the night had been quite unbelievable.

Null bent down and kissed her, and Sebille’s hands found their way to the back of his neck.