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The waltz is languidly slow, and she moves in the circle of his arms like the sweep of the waves across the beach. Their bodies move in a perfect time, neither pulling nor pushing against the other. She wonders vaguely behind the dazzling ballroom's crushing impression on her brain, if the two of them would move this same way were they yards apart instead of merely inches. She imagines that the answer would be yes.

It is not her own Ballroom she dances in now, but somewhere else entirely; a sort of bridge between many worlds, where dreamers come to consort with others of their ilk, dancing nights away with joyous grace. The man who's arms hold her now is the same one whose bushes she once crouched in several years ago, yearning after his blinding brightness. His glow warms her now as the waltz slows, and he swings her into a slow turn and into a dip. For a heart pounding second their lips are but a thought's breadth apart, and she blinks up into his startled eyes. Fear.

The girl wakes, heart pounding from the nightmare. No, no nightmare, for these were events that truly transpired. The Glimmer's eyes had been lanced with fear, though she'd felt through him the urge she too had had, to close that infinitesimal distance in a kiss. He had backpedaled then, explaining awkwardly of his duties, of the Lady with whom he shared his realms. She had stood back quietly, safely outside his bewitching presence, and nodded and smiled in agreement with him to try to hide the hammering of her heart.

She pulls the covers around her, sliding deeper into her bed. One arm reaches out for the bell-pull by the headboard, but Eddie is at her bedside before her fingers touch the silken cord.
"Some cocoa Eddie, please. And put a little warmth into it."

The Shadow is gone from her bedside before she can blink, and she stares up at the moving lights of the City on her ceiling. Their twirling does nothing to soothe her, and with a sigh she pulls at the coverlet and gropes for her kimono, toes smarting at the chill of the floor beneath them. After a moment's thought, she heads towards the Presence Room, her footsteps quiet over the marble threshold. Torches burn on either side of the throne, and although the place looks somber in the half-light, there is a sense of warmth to it as well.

She kneels before the throne, hands clasped before her in the expectant silence.

"I refuse to dirty him." The words are broken when they come; a self-reassurance torn from the lips of one who despairs.

"The saints of the path he follows were hallowed for driving out the likes of me, centuries ago. I will not see him cast him down in the eyes of his fellows for my sake."

Her hands clench in her lap. "I will pull back. I don't know if you can hear me, but I could use a little help. I know that his god and my gods don't always get along, but..." She shakes her head miserably, then looks up at the empty throne.

"Please, please send solid distractions my way. I could use the help."

The Gift

Feb. 13th, 2005 11:28 pm
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There is a bright corner of the City too, one populated with creatures of such blazing beauty and perfection that they sear the eyes of our young lady. It is in this corner of the City that we find her, crouching in stained skirts in a hedge. She is peering into a blazing window at couples inside who dance on, oblivious. Desire stands over her left shoulder, idly amused, if somewhat annoyed.

Inside, the dancers twirl in perfectly matched couples, bodies moving as one inside richly gliterring gowns and expensive tailcoats. These are creatures who have never known hunger, have never known poverty, never known what it was to want something unattainable. They are so young and strange to her, so used to the stiff creaking of the skinless dancers of her own ballroom. She watches them, fascinated, wincing all the while from the light and dazzle that stabs at her dark-accustomed eyes.

It is Desire who speaks first, impatient at the girl who crouches still in the bushes, content to watch the dancers through slitted eyes.

"You know you can't have him, my pet. You do know that."

It is not jealousy that motivates Desire's words of course, but contempt for time so wasted. Desire is never jealous, no, but often sadistic.

"You know he is not for you. He has an entire world inside that ballroom, built and sculpted just for him. And you aren't in it."

Stung, or possibly annoyed, the girl finally turns, the crinoline under her dishevelled skirts rustling restlessly.

"I know that. Will you be quiet? They might hear you."

Desire laughs, a loud, racous sound that fills the night and wraps around the girl like a seducer's arm.

"They can't hear me. You know that, my pet."

The girl turns back to the window, silent.

"And yet you still watch him. You gaze at him like he was a raft and you were drowning in a sea of blood. You watch every finger her puts on her and imagine it was you he was dancing with. You imagine that it was you he gazes at in the turns, you that brings that smile to his lips and that light to his eyes." Desire leans closer, crouching over the girl's shoulder so that the hair by her ear flutters with the next words. "You love him, don't you."

The girl jumps back, swatting at her ear as if stung. Desire takes on a smug aspect, arms folded. The girl's face holds first horror, then shame, guilt, and finally sadness. She looks back at the ballroom, and then down at her hands, eyes welling up with tears unshed. She stands, and pushes her way through the hedge. Desire follows.

Back at the Bal des Morts she sits on a sidechair, sighing. Her skirts are once more pristine, her arms unscathed by the hedge's thorns. A tear trails down her cheek as Desire sits beside her.

"I do not love him. I do not know how to love anymore."

From somewhere, Desire pulls a handkerchief and offers it for the girl's overflowing eyes.

"He is so perfect. He stands for everything I wanted in life, everything unattained. But I am not... I would be lost in his dazzle like stars are hidden by the moon. I mean... nothing to him, and I know it."

She looks up, angry now, and returns the handkerchief to Desire, who placidly folds it and tucks it away in some hidden pocket.

"That's why you're here, right? To break me of it? Well congratulations, you've done it. I know I never will be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough, alive enough..." her voice catches "to ever..."

Desire shushes her with a single finger held close to her trembling lips. "But that doesn't change how you feel about him. You'll continue to beat your heart against the windowpane like a canary against the bars, until it drops dead from the effort. That's why he sent me. You're no good to him if you become a permanent resident of our somber sister's realm."

Desire gestures, and suddenly a line of handsomely tuxedoed gentlemen appear, standing at attention with hands clasped behind their backs. They are all different of hair, eye and skin color, of varying heights and builds, but somehow alike, as handpainted porcelain miniatures are all strikingly different but still alike.

"I was sent, my pet, to try and bring you comfort. The Lord Shaper sends you a present in your time of confusion."

Desire stands, walks to the nearest man and passes a hand through his shoulder and torso. The girl starts as the man walks forward, picks up her hand in his all-too-real one, and kisses it.

"They are but dreams, but even dreams have substance. You have but to say which..." Desire waggles both eyebrows lasciviously "...or how many of them you wish, and they are yours. No strings attached."

The girl gulps, eyes fastened to the smiling man still bent over her hand.

"I think... Yes, I think... Thank you. This should help."


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