Not What You Think
Chapter 11: Little White Lies
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Wow! I know it has been an incredibly loooong time since last I updated, and I do apologize for that. But more than that, I want to thank all my wonderful, wonderful, wonderful reviewers, because I got quite a few reviews lately and it made me reread my story and want to continue it, so remember: you make the updates happen. -grins- God, it's been such a long time since the last update, omg, so sorry to all you people who've been reading it with no hope of an end. TT Wow, I suck mucho, huh?
I actually had this done a week or so ago, but my bloody router is a freakin' dirtbag!!! -cries-
Disclaimer: I haven't even read Demon Diary in the past two years let alone own it! So sad...
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Erutis steeled herself for the blindingly bright ballroom. It wasn't so much the lights that blinded her as the knowledge that every pair of eyes in the room was directed at her. Not just directed, either, but scrutinizing, judging, esteeming... She never wore dresses at the best of times, and to be wearing one and feeling very much unworthy of it's beauty while being visually smashed from every angle is an anxious thing. She decided immediately not to meet anyone's eyes, but stare straight ahead.
Krayon's warm and gentle fingers massaged hers periodically, as though he was afraid she'd faint and was trying to make sure her blood kept circulating. Of course, ever the performer, he appeared completely at ease. Erutis was probably the only one who realized he was worried about her.
Within the first five minutes of politely, yet semi-haughtily smiling around at everyone, she'd already managed to steal three glances at Krayon. He was taller than she was, of course, and usually conversing with someone, so the most she saw was that extremely se- er, really nice earing dangling next to his incredibly masculine jawline. Somehow, even this sent Erutis into mortifying blush fests.
'This is ridiculous,' she chided herself. 'It's a jaw. For crying out loud I have a jaw, too!' Still, the fact remained that Krayon's jaw seemed very appealing to her.
Painful minutes crept by slowly but surely, and Erutis hoped very much her hair hadn't managed to come undone from the flowers and that her smile didn't look like it would break her face- which is rather how it felt. It wasn't as bad as it easily could have been. All she had to do was stick close to Krayon, their arms entwined, and nod stately every now and then when she was introduced. Sometimes, when she was feeling daring, she'd toss in a demure "How do you do?" This usually made her feel very proud of herself for at least a minute or two. It helped that whenever she did something like this, Krayon's hand would give hers an extra squeeze, and she'd catch him smiling in a mildly amused manner at nothing in particular.
It was strange, for some reason, this didn't make her want to crush his foot like she normally would have done. In fact, and she was quite embarrassed at the thought, she felt like slapping his arm playfully. In another instant, it was as if the world had fallen on her head. Flirting. She felt like flirting with him. She, Erutis, felt like flirting with him, Krayon- the effeminate little- little... But she couldn't think how to finish that sentence. Little what? She stared at the white marble floor laid with the thinnest of gold rivulets. Her reflection stared back at her.
It was official. Erutis had lost her mind. That was the only possible explanation the young swordswoman could come up with for her unacceptable behavior. Not hating him anymore was okay, she'd decided, but becoming besotted was still certainly a no-no. When had this happened?! 'Calm down, there's obviously a really simple answer to all of this,' her brain informed her. 'Get away from him. You've been too close to him for too long now and it's messing with your head. Go get a drink or something.' Well, her brain hadn't ever been wrong before...well, okay, maybe once or twice, but whatever.
She was about to open her mouth and inform her escort that she needed to go freshen up (weren't ladies always saying stuff like that?) when someone cleared their voice loudly enough to be heard over the general din in the room. All eyes turned to the raven haired speaker standing on the stage. Honestly, no matter how much she looked at the man, there was always something about Eclipse that gave off intense waves of attraction. It was like his existence yelled at you that there was an ATTRACTIVE, TALLDARKANDHANDSOME OLDER MAN in the vicinity. Kind of like Krayon's yelled GLOMPALICIOUS GOLDEN BOY, ne? She firmly shook her head at that thought.
The motion alerted a certain Demon Lord to the whereabouts of the one he was looking for.
"Erutis!" That crystal clear voice could only belong to...
Erutis grinned and turned around, waving enthusiastically and waiting patiently for Raenef to clamber down from the stage and run towards her, an irritated Eclipse trailing his master with scoldings of "My Lord, I was speaking..." falling on deaf ears. The crowds parted to let the two through and watched avidly at the scene taking place. In the few seconds it took for them to make their way over, the redhead became acutely aware of all the eyes watching. She couldn't slip up just because her friend was here. And it didn't pass her knowledge that Krayon had stiffened up noticeably on the arrival of his fellow Demon Lord and his attendee.
Before Raenef did something unintentionally stupid, Erutis quickly cut a curtsy and extended her hand for him to take and kiss, properly. She managed to not trip. "How have you been, My Lord Raenef?" she inquired, just loudly enough for those nearby to hear. Raenef's mouth dropped open and had Eclipse been a lesser man (or demon) he most certainly would have undertaken an anime fall. Both seemed to do a mental double take and drink in the appearance of Erutis in a dress, with flowers in her hair- behaving, of all things, like a lady.
"And Eclipse," she continued, hoping desperately that she didn't look as stupid as she felt and that no one had noticed her gloves were starting to get clammy from how sweaty her hands were. She acknowledged him with a dignified tilt of her head. "It's good to see you both in excellent health." As she spoke, she could clearly hear Aya saying these exact same words. Suddenly, she knew what the solution to the evening would be. She would not be Swordsmaster Erutis this day. No, she would now become Aya. Anything feminine that Aya did always looked elegant and graceful, not stupid and lumbering.
"Ah, and of course, you've already met," she gulped and forced herself to get the words out without blushing, "my fiancé, his Lordship Krayon of Egae." Now Raenef and Eclipse weren't the only ones stupefied by this news. The ballroom instantly broke out in the buzzing noise of gossip being spread like wildfire, and Krayon by her side stiffened even more, if possible. She refused to look at him and instead, continued to smile at her friends as though nothing out of the ordinary had been said.
"Did she say fiancé?"
"That's what I heard."
"Wasn't this just a presentation? When did they get engaged?"
"Did you know it was this far along?"
Too late, Erutis realized that maybe she'd picked the wrong choice of words, but no time to worry about that, now. Clearly it was the new Raenef that kicked in when her friend etched an admirable bow and kissed her hand delicately. "I am well, thank you, M'lady." Nodding, he acknowledged Krayon and continued, "Wonderful occasion to see you, of course."
Krayon recovered quickly from the multiple shocks and she couldn't help but envy his grace under pressure. How hard did he have to work at it? "My Lord Raenef, you honor me." He, too, tilted his head marginally. Eclipse dropped to one knee before the senior Demon Lord and it really would seem that everything was going quite smoothly. But of course, all good things must come to an end...
"Come now, what's with all this formal introduction? This is a ball, isn't it?" called a husky, sultry voice from the back. Meruhesae walked languidly through the crowd and posed before them, facing the four. She motioned for the band to play and they obliged readily. Most of the Lords and Ladies dispersed, whispering and acquiring dance partners. Meruhesae, without ever taking her eyes off Erutis, walked slowly up to the group, looking as though she had just received a bonus tribute, à la virgin boy from the village.
"Little girl," she crooned into Erutis's ear, bending low to achieve a level height, and effectively allowing Eclipse to gain an ample view of her bosom. Eclipse, however, was silently mourning the loss of his speech which he'd spent so many hours preparing, and was currently dead to the world. "What say you and I have a nice dance?"
The "girl" shivered at the thought of having to spend so much time in this creature's presence. Remembering she was a proper lady, Aya, tonight, she cleared her throat delicately and wrapped her other arm around the one of Krayon's she was already holding. "I'm ever so sorry, but I've promised the first of many dances to my Lord." She leaned in ever so slightly into him, hoping it made for an effective show of possession and how very little Erutis wanted to be near Meruhesae. The creepy sex fiend.
"Is that so?" The older woman glanced at Krayon and smirked. "That must be what has gotten his face that nice shade of beet red, then," she concluded.
"H-How dare you liken my features to that of a beet?" Krayon said hoarsely, barely louder than a whisper. It was clear to all of them that his heart really wasn't in defending his features, which might well be a first for him.
"Hmm...well, one then, I suppose, but I must insist on having the second dance," Meruhesae intoned, winking at Eclipse who merely sweatdropped, and slinking away. She was immediately accosted by numerous young demons waiting to escort her.
Erutis let out the breath she was holding, and turned to the others in relief. There followed a moment of awkward silence. "Oh, c'mon!" she huffed, slightly miffed. "I am a girl!" she reminded them.
"Yea, but it's so easy to forget that with you sometimes!" Raenef quipped innocently. "I mean, it's not as if you ever act like one-"
The young woman felt her eyebrow twitch violently. "I-get-it!" she barked.
Poor Raenef blinked, confused. "Wha-? Did I say something?" Everyone sweatdropped.
Krayon was sure he was in excellent health, so why was it exponentially harder to breathe than it had been a few seconds ago? It was a ball. She was his lady. It was expected that they would share at least one dance, if not all of them. Maybe it was because she'd been the one to whip out the suggestion. Or maybe it was because she'd held his arm and seemed to sink into him like she had... Or maybe it was the fact that she'd referred to him as her fiancé.
Whatever the case, he no longer felt any animosity whatsoever towards Raenef (well, he hadn't for some time now). But more importantly, he wasn't feeling particularly envious of Eclipse, either. He'd known for a while that Erutis at least considered him good enough to lust after (in as much as Erutis was capable of lusting). But at this moment, not only did Eclipse not hold her attention, it was Krayon that had it, and Krayon who she'd turned to for protection against strangers (or at least, Meruhesae), and Krayon with whom she'd be dancing at least one of the dances! He could not believe his awesome luck.
His love would be accepted, now, he knew for sure. She'd put on a superb performance, for one thing. For another, she had the full compliments of at least one Demon Lord- two, counting Krayon. Now, about that dance...
He cleared his throat, and nudged the woman at his side gently. "Dear? About what you just said..."
"Oh, uh...heh," he heard her squeak. "Listen, I, uh, I'm really thirsty. Y'know, the bright lights and all that, I just, umm," The Demon Lord could have kicked himself. How could he be so inconsiderate of his love?
"Of course!" he switched gears immediately. "Would you like for me to get you some-"
"Nono! I mean," she cleared her throat. "No, I uh, I can get it myself, thanks." She kept her eyes on the floor, the walls, or the opposite shoulder, never looking at him. He was starting to get seriously worried, but didn't want to pressure her. Goodness knows she'd been pressured enough this day. And besides, half a wrong thought and she was liable to lash out at him, and that would simply kill the magic of the evening.
"If you're sure..." he said dubiously.
She ran off without another second to spare, leaving Krayon's side to be filled by cold air where her warm body had been. He felt a certain sense of dismay. Had he gotten too hopeful too fast? He watched her approach the table with drinks and wondered if she knew Meruhesae was making her way over. He'd keep an eye out.
Erutis slumped over the long table under the pretense of filling her glass with a warm, burgundy colored wine. She had no idea what it tasted like or what was in it but it was the closest bottle so to heck with that. She found she was breathing hard and for some reason, had the self-pitying urge to cry her eyes out. As soon as this ball was over she would definitely see a healer of some sort and figure out what was wrong with herself.
She had barely straightened up and turned around when she came face to face with the sultry Meruhesae. Erutis backed up a step and met the hard edge of the table. She had no escape just yet. Instead, she cradled her wineglass like she remembered seeing Krayon do in an earlier dream and swirled the contents casually as Aya had instructed. She offered the Demon Lady a polite smile and moved to walk around her.
"You know...he was actually one of my favorites," Meruhesae said.
The red haired swordswoman knew she shouldn't fall for the bait, but despite that, couldn't help herself. She stopped herself just in time from blurting out, "The heck are you talking about?" and instead, glanced over her shoulder and asked, "Pardon?"
Meruhesae only smiled and leaned against the table where Erutis had stood moments before. It was a clear trap and just as clearly Erutis stepped into it. Turning to face the woman, she took a sip of her wine and asked as casually as she could, "What had you said?" The older woman filled her own glass full of a deep brown wine and stepped closer to Erutis, as though taking her into private confidences. She motioned with a jerk of her head and trailing eyes to the green and brown clad Demon Lord.
"My Lord?" Erutis was conscious of her heart rate speeding up and her body feeling physically ready for confrontation. "What of him?"
"He was one of my favorites," Meruhesae repeated.
The younger woman let the confusion show clearly on her face. Meruhesae laughed and elaborated. "Men come and go, you understand. He was quite the charmer. Wealthy, handsome, titled, powerful, and such an accomplished lover-!" She made a show of fanning the lust from her face and laughed airily. Erutis felt a buzzing in her ears and felt her blood pounding. She took another sip of her wine for lack of anything better to do. "I can understand even now why you'd fall all over yourself to be with him- I can't imagine the affect he'd have on a mere mortal like yourself!"
The buzzing got louder and her blood pumped faster. The next sip of wine Erutis took was quite larger than her last. There was so much that was offending her from this woman's speech that it was hard to know where to begin. Yet, that wasn't what was bothering her most. She wanted to hear the end of this. Wanted to see what exactly she meant by everything. She glanced at Krayon again. Someone had just said something amusing and he was laughing, leaning back, Adam's apple bobbing with each breath he drew. One of his hands rested on the hilt of his ornate dagger. He was the image of perfect, chivalrous, masculine competence. She realized with a stab that having this trashy woman speak of him so familiarly was frankly, pissing the hell out of her.
Her voice and demeanor instantly turned colder. "Oh?" she inquired, taking another large sip of wine.
Meruhesae giggled, immediately drawing out her fan and snapping it open in front of herself. Erutis wanted to snap it shut and shove it up her nose. The dark haired Lady seemed to take in Erutis's silence for the first time. "Oh, I'm not troubling you am I, Dearie?" she asked.
"Not at all," Erutis returned icily. The ice seemed to have missed Meruhesae who patted her shoulder lightly.
"Good, good," she said absently. "That Eclipse is turning out to be quite the hard nut to crack, you know." She sighed in disappointment. "In fact, if I'm not careful, I'll end up coming back to Krayon as soon as he's done with you. Maybe even sooner, if things really turn ugly." She was thinking out loud and totally oblivious to the fact that what she'd just said was in fact, incredibly offensive. She caught Erutis's look of shock- a look like she'd just been slapped. Laughing, she said in a little over a whisper, "Oh, come now, you didn't really think he'd stay with you, did you? I mean, look at him! A man like that needs a woman that's fitting. Oh, he'll chase you for a while, no doubt, but how long do you expect that to last? Men lose interest quickly. Especially when a new day yields nothing new."
Erutis didn't know what to say, really. She closed her mouth as Aya had said leaving it hanging open was very unladylike. But Meruhesae was still talking some more. "...and at the end of the day, really, you're nothing more than a human. There are some things that only a Demon Lady can give a Demon Lord. He may have a fetish for playing about with human girls for a while, but it's something I can overlook. And anyhow, don't you think a body like that requires one of equal caliber?" Eyes twitching, she added, "And what a fine body it is, too..."
She was watching Krayon with a look like she could devour him in some very creative ways. Erutis was afraid if she held on to her wineglass any tighter it would shatter and ruin her dress. Anger and the wine mixed to create quite a combination. Erutis smiled the sweetest smile she knew and tapped the side of the glass with the finger adorned with Krayon's ring on it, letting it make a distinct, clear sound each time the ring hit the glass. When she saw that Meruhesae had glanced at it, she stopped.
"Indeed it is quite pleasant on the eyes," she agreed. "However, if you would be so kind as to excuse me, my fiancé is waiting for me, as I've promised every dance to him." She laughed an airy laugh, mirroring Meruhesae's own. "He does get ever so possessive." She made a show of twisting the ring around until it sat just right on her finger. Turning, she took a few steps, then glancing over her shoulder, on a reckless whim, added. "Oh, and by the way, it's odd that you should mention the two of you have been lovers." Meruhesae lifted an eyebrow in question.
"Why is that?"
"Well, you see," Erutis continued, lying through her teeth. "He's already informed me that he's never been with anyone before." The split second's look of surprise and the way Meruhesae's eyes darted around the room to see if anyone had heard confirmed Erutis's suspicions. She had been lying after all. She felt a savage satisfaction at the discovery. "But it's okay," she added, smiling as though she deeply pitied the older woman. "He has that affect on girls sometimes- he sometimes still affects me that way, and we're engaged! I can only imagine what affect he must be having on you, who can only lie about him from afar."
She turned and continued making her way to Krayon, whose eyes immediately lit up upon seeing her return to him. Without really realizing what she was doing, perhaps still under the influence of the wine, she casually curled into his outstretched arms, as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she felt Meruhesae watching. Standing slightly on tiptoe, she reached up and planted a soft, fleeting kiss on Krayon's firm jawline and gently pressed him closer. "So are we dancing now or what?" she wanted to know.
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AUTHORS'S NOTE: XDD Well, how was it?! There is clearly more physical interaction, wheee!!! I know Meruhesae isn't entirely in character, and I do apologize for that (I seem to be doing a lot of apologizing, it seems). This was quite a long chapter and took quite a while to type up- will that make up for it? Please, please, please review! You already know how much that has helped me write and continue to write, so... -SMILE-