Written from the perspective of Cinder Fall
Summary: Mercury and Emerald had run off somewhere, leaving an exhausted Cinder to arrive at the dance alone. She waits by the punch bowl enjoying the party, next to a certain Jaune Arc.
Who is Jaune Arc?
Wait. Ah yes, he was that Jaune Arc, Pyrrha Nikos' partner and team captain. If I recall correctly, the reports said he was nothing short of a talentless but lovable oaf. Despite being self-described as unpopular, he has made many friends. Amongst them a former White Fang agent, the Schnee Heiress, and of course the famed Goddess of Victory herself. Rather peculiar, but he's not a pawn in my plans or worth noting of any interest.
He just asked me how was the punch.
"So… I see you're here at the dance all by yourself…"
"That I am," I said with a polite smile. The correct move would have been to turn him down firmly but I imagine he was the persistent type, the kind that makes a scene and creates unwanted attention. Perhaps I'll humor him. Mingling during parties isn't always a bad thing after all. "And yourself?"
"Turns out serenading a girl with a guitar at her doorway isn't the best way to go."
"Yeah, she wanted to go with another guy but then that guy turned her down and so I had to go and give that guy a pep talk and now he's talking to her right now… look at him. With his perfect blue hair and masterfully sculpted chin."
Jaune Arc pointed towards the Schnee girl and a guy who looked like he's part of a boyband.
"I know, right!? Guy thinks he's so cool and everything… man, but he likes Weiss and Weiss likes him but he's too much of a chicken to actually try and talk to her outside of punny flirting. She even lets him call her Snow Angel. I was the first one to call her that! Can you believe this guy?"
"I can't really."
"So I tell him, 'go talk to her man' and now they're hitting it off better than Ruby at gun expo." The boy shoulders dropped in defeat, "man, now I feel bad."
The boy looked at the couple, both seated at a table engaged in an amusing conversation or another. "It's just… I don't know. Jealousy? I mean, I was the one who gave him the push but… it still just feels so bad."
"You shouldn't," I told him. Beating on a defeated opponent wasn't my preferred tactic. Instead… I felt a bit of… pity. "Rather, you should be glad you brought two hearts closer together."
"Yeah… you're right… oh well," the boy said with a stretch. "It's getting late. I think I'm going to go back to the dorm and sleep and try to forget I ever fell in love with Weiss."
I tilted my head. "Going to bed so early? The party's only just begun."
"Well yeah, nothing to do here," the boy said scratching the back of his head. "I mean I could stay and talk to you but a lifetime of talking to girls has taught me if I stay any longer you'll probably toss me over a bridge or something."
"I won't. I promise." At least not tonight. "Come with me."
I extended my hand and his reached out to mine. With a brief moment of reluctance, he finally took it and I led him away from the party. We kept to the sidelines of the dance floor as we maneuvered across and I was not oblivious to the stares. In particular, I caught the eyes of a rather upset Pyrrha Nikos trailing my back.
Making sure to strut, I waved my rear with each step at her.
The boy said nothing as we left the party. He said nothing as we left walked past the old bronze lamps and on the cobblestone paths. He didn't say a word until we reached the Beacon Gardens.
"Do you think people got the wrong idea?"
"You know… boy, hot girl, hot girl pulling the boy out of a party and leading him to be alone in a secluded area nobody is bound to come around on the night of the dance? That kind of an idea?"
"Never crossed my mind."
"Me? That's a first. I've spent a lifetime being called 'lovely' or 'ravishing' or 'sinfully beautifully.'"
"You're all of that but you're still strange."
For the first time in a long while, I laughed. We continued on our stroll, our hands still together. I enjoyed the sound my heels made as they clicked along the stone. A pleasant stroll with a boy through the gardens underneath the stars and the shattered moon.
When was the last time I did something this romantic?
Oh. That's right. Never.
My joints and muscles ached from the mission earlier in the night. The cool air and brisk stroll soothed them numb. I also felt hot: my heartbeat was faster and my pulse was elevated. But where I felt the most heat was from the hand I held.
Jaune Arc, you've caught my interest.
"So, your name was…?"
"Jaune Arc. You can call me Jaune… um… Miss…?"
"Cinder," I answered. "And that's all you'll get out of me," I said with a wink. His blushing cheeks were a dead giveaway he was enthralled. "Perhaps your heart still lies with that girl who's been so cold with you… but how about you stop playing with ice and play with some fire?"
We stopped in the middle of a fork in the pathway. I brought my free hand to his cheek. It was warm.
Was love always this easy?
"No," the boy said. "No thank you."
"Are you… rejecting me?"
He shrugged. "I know absolutely nothing about you. I mean, you're hotter than Yang and you've got a great pair of brea-eyes! You've got lovely perfect pair of eyes! But listen, Cinder, I just… want a girl who loves me for me and not someone's pity."
Jaune smiled weakly. "There's no way a girl as hot as you would waste a second with a guy like me… unless… wait! Are there cameras? Is this being filmed for something? Am I getting punk'd?"
I bought a palm to my face.
"No you aren't on some show…"
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh thank goodness, my mom would kill me and my sisters would never stop replaying it," he said rubbing his heart.
I sighed. Beauty is a blessing… and a curse.
"A raincheck then," I said softly.
My mission in Beacon would be over soon… but he seems innocent enough. Perhaps there was a chance for us after. I brought both my hands to my his cheeks and stared into his eyes.
"Sometime… I'm not sure when… but in the future let us meet again?"
"No promises." I pressed my lips together in a smile.
A flash of passion, a pressing of skin, and no contract was seal. Just an act. A simple act. Maybe a hint of something else to come but for now, my night with him was over.
He was dazed when I left him and probably still dazed when I returned to my room. Mercury and Emerald were there eating ice cream.
"Sorry, got bored of dancing," said Emerald licking a strawberry and chocolate cone. "Mercury took me out to ice cream."
"Why did I have to pay when you're the pickpocket?"
"It's the gentlemanly thing to do!"
I laughed at their bickering. They both went silent.
"Wh-what happened? You never laugh… it's…" Emerald's strawberry scoop feel off her cone. "Gah! My ice cream!"
"Gotta get that cleaned up," said Mercury as he watched Emerald scramble to wipe up the fastly melting ice cream on the floor. "So… any changes in the plan?" Mercury asked as I passed him to reach my bed.
Pausing, I pressed my fingertips to my lips.
"Yes, one. I'd like to make plans for the Jaune boy. You know, from the Arc family."
Mercury raised an eyebrow. "Initial reports says the boy has no talent. Only thing special about him is that he's an Arc and the only notable info we dug up about him are the pictures Emerald took of him in the shower."
"Hey! Those were supposed to be a secret!"
Mercury sighed. "I'll delete the files immediately."
"You'll do no such thing," I snapped. "Those images could be useful for blackmail."
Mercury raised an eyebrow but did not contest. "Understood."
Emerald finished cleaning up her ice cream. "So what's the plan for the Arc kid?"
"Keep him alive. That boy has potential."
Neither of them questioned me.
The night's are cold. I slept in a gown but without a blanket. My body heat has always kept me sufficiently warm. It's a phobia of mine-of being smothered, that a blazing roaring fire could be done it by something as silly as a blanket.
What a childish fear.
But as I slept on the cold night, my heart fluttered. The thoughts of that boy would not leave my mind. Perhaps there is something special about him after all being able to attract so many to him. His absence irritated me and tonight, the first in years worth of nights, my body heat was insufficient. Pulling up a blanket, I pulled it over myself.
Sleep does not come easy for a queen without her king.