To my dearest friend, Katherine

Whose beauty inspired the creation of Aeries.

And to Katherine's beloved, James

Whose existence inspired the creation of Van Husen.

Love is a symbol of eternity
that wipes away all sense of time,
removing all memory of a beginning
and all fear of an end.

It was simply magnificent.

Gentlemen and ladies of all kinds of fancy clothes and vast reputations appeared at this party, more than Aeries had expected. The ladies were quite underdressed in her opinion, with their exceedingly low cut dresses, fanning themselves and raining flirtation toward the gentlemen-who were too occupied gawking their front than to listen to their chattering. The gentlemen were handsome as their nice tuxedos gave them an air of elegance, even if their eyes were not looking at decent places.

Most did not notice Aeries, and the few who did nodded toward her politely and continued merrily with their own gossips. A few surprised her when they complimented on her dress as they passed by to get champagne, she had forgotten she was wearing it.

Ah yes, a box with golden ribbons appeared in her room when she came back from the greenhouse a few days ago. Inside rested the most beautiful dress made by the rarest of fabric. It was oriental silk, very uncommon in those times. The gown was light green with white satin frills; modest andjust the sizefor her. Who had sent it? She smiled inwardly. Who else can it be?

Aeries had wanted to find Lord Van Husen and thank him, that was what she had been doing in the entire day. He completely disappeared somehow. Although the party had lost its host, the guests were having no less fun. At least the gentlemen were quite entertained.

She sat down near the windows and pulled out a giant book from somewhere. No one has asked her to dance yet, and no one will. She was only a mere servant, too low for any gentlemen to bother with. Her restless eyes ran over line by line, yet the simple sentences could not make any sense...

As she tilted her head forward, a blinding light shone above them both. He stirred, and opened his eyes lazily yet to see the greatest of beauty staring down at him, with tremendous sadness in her blue eyes.

The candles are lovely, Aeries thought. Lord Van Husen is never lazy with decorating the house till his heart's content.

"Oh, my love Rodrigo!" She cried happily, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"My lady, you are the greatest thing God could ever give me, you are the most beautiful thing the naked eyes could see! You are the main reason of my life, the very light of my survival."

"Oh, Rodrigo!"

Aeries snickered as she pictured Lord Van Husen confessing his love for someone, which would never happen. She had fun placing him in the position of Rodrigo, saying, "My love! I love you!" passionately. She suppressed a laugh to a cough.

Maybe it was merely an apparition of the mind; it was almost like a sixth sense. A tingling sensation rushed to her throat, and she knew, he was there.

Alas, her gaze darkened. Lord Van Husen's mistress possessed his arm and appeared to be the evening moon with the enchanting blue dress that seemed to set the entire ballroom afire of cold flames.

Aeries clenched her fist and hid behind the giant book unwillingly.

Mary-Anne was exceedingly lovely that night; she even stirred his empty void with wonder. How could one be so beautiful? He asked inwardly as he admired her silently. How could one be so beautiful belongs to him? Yet, why does not he feel grateful, agitated, aroused?

She could please him; he knew that fact the entire time. Mary-Anne Lancelot, age 20, had had more than ten lovers in the past three years, married and divorced twice. Normally society would frown on a women with such a shocking reputation at such a young age, but her celestial beauty and her amiability made her the top woman of the ton, or even London.

A night wrapped in her silken arms would be the most wondrous gift for any hot-blooded male, a gift they would die for. The gift was in his deft hands, he had not yet unwrapped it, and he had no intention of doing so right now.

Maybe his monumental ennui distorted his mind. A mere innocent peasant girl had aroused him when the greatest beauty of London couldn't. Of course, his devilish plan to deflower Miss Delilah stood perfect, plus lady Lancelot was leaving for Umbridge for four weeks, the time more than enough to seduce her, taunt her, mesmerize her, debauch her and discard her. After that, he would maybe truly take Mary-Anne to bed. That is, after he gets rid of the 'distraction'.

Speaking of Miss Delilah, where could she be now?

He scanned across the room and his emerald eyes landed on a petite creature crouched beside the window, reading a huge book of fairy tales she had found somewhere squished inside the old bookshelf he'd forgotten to getrid of. Aeries never cease to amuse him with her foolish innocence, first on armful of leaves, second fairy tales at Eighteen.

Lord Van Husen took a long, assessing look at Aeries when Mary-Anne flirted her way through a group of gentlemen. She looked ethereal-No, mystical, almost a dryad with the green dress he gave her, clinging to every curve of her petite body and her caramel hair spread across her bare shoulders. Her bosom-

"Good evening Marek, long time no see!" A loud, sandy voice interrupted his wanton thoughts.

"Hello Winfred, glad you made it here on time." He greeted the tall, aristocratic friend casually with his cold voice.

"Did you have fun back at Chamomiles? The harlot I spared for you was a virgin, you know? Saw her and liked to bust her cap, I'm sure you had fun with her. Too bad I had a meeting." He sighed with regret, and his piggy gray eyes traveled to Mary-Anne's figure.

"You are a lucky bastard, do you know that? Do you know how many men are willing to die for Miss Lancelot? Yet she's your mistress, your damn whor- wait a minute, who's that girl?"

Winfred gazed at the green dryad composed of fairy tales beside the window.

"Yes, Miss Aeries Elaine Delilah, I hire her as one of Miss Reed's helpers."

"The time of unemployment of theyear eh? She's too fine to be a servant. She must be clever in bed, to make an Earl rescue her from a brothel."

"Indeed." Lord Van Husen murmured absently, dreaming of pistols to shoot this damn dolt, without a reason why.

"Tell you what, Husen, why don't you give her to me, to your old friend? Eh?"

"I'm sure you know by now that I hold onto my property, I am not generous, my friend." The Earl smiled coldly and glanced at the green dryad storming out of the ballroom.

Aeries could not stay in that room any longer without rolling her eyes in disgust. Miss Lancelot is Lord Van Husen's mistress! Yet she was flirting with every single gentlemen with enough affection to take them to bed with her! Does she wish to be a whore?

She stomped childishly and headed for her room to change. It was pointless for her to be there anyway, no one asked this lowly servant to dance. She yanked down a working dress, and hopped outside to see her greenhouse. She had done the planting, now she just needs to water everyday for the lovely flowers to appear.

Aeries shivered in the late autumn's late-night chill, and a black cloak fell on her. She whirled around, expecting her 'prince-charming' to stand before her smiling. Unfortunately, he was not a prince charming at all.

Author's Note: Ooiy... a shorter chapter this time. But anyway. I'm back! Though... I am addicted on Dragon's Era. TT IT's soooo goood. > I shall update more often since it's summer break. D And er, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATHERINE!!! It (was) the birthday of our Protagonist last month... ;; So er... just another token of my appreciation here... cough

I don't want to make this story another one of those mushy romance novels, so you're not going to have one! ;; I lack the ability to write mysteries, but I'll try my best to make this novel as heartwretching as possible. Please forgive me for my grammatical errors, I am... er... kinda new to the English language(4 years of learning oO), and I see writing stories as a very good practice. ) Just don't throw rocks at me. ducks

I hope you enjoyed this chapter. 3 Author