27 & 29March 2006

One Dance by Bela Luna

Disclaimer: I do not own No Rest for the Wicked ( w w w . f o r t h e w i c k e d . n e t ). That wonderful comic belongs solely to Andrea L. Peterson.

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November lay in bed, her bed, sore, tired, but unbelievably happy. She buried her face into her silk pillow, smiling despite herself. It smelt like her hair instead of hay. November rolled onto her back, the thought that she was on only six mattresses a very giddy one. She flexed her fingers and sighed contentedly for she had been able to, finally, sleep.

With a twinge of annoyance she swept away a lock of red-brown hair from her neck. Her lack of sleep may have been cured -bruising now as minimal as she dared hope- but she felt annoyed by the slightest discomforts upon awakening.

Sleep. The word itself brought a smile to November's lips. Of course, the dark shadows under her eyes hadn't gone away, but that would come later. Right now what she wished was to lie in bed knowing that another night hadn't been wasted on staring at the ceiling and finding answers of which could not be found.

A knock resounded across the spacious room. November groaned and rolled over; she had been ready to take a nap. Even if she was a princess and manners urged her to reply, sleep happened to be more persuasive. Possibly, most likely, if she ignored it, whoever was at the door would leave.

Another knock came, this time more urgent -or was that the imagination of her sleep-drugged mind? With a sigh, November delicately stepped onto the cushioned steps. She walked to her wardrobe and picked a simple burgundy robe. She paused and then picked up a hairbrush and some ribbon. She had to look somewhat presentable -she was a princess, after all.

"You may enter," November called out tiredly, her eyelids already drooping.

The new maid, Flora, came in timidly and curtsied. "P-Pardon, Princess November, but there is someone here to who wishes to speak to you."

November nodded. "That is fine. Please tell whoever is waiting that I need some time to get dressed."

The poor maid flushed. "H-He was very clear that I have you talk with him-"

November's eyebrows rose. "'He'?"

"Yes."

Flora and November looked to the door.

"Good afternoon, Your Highness," Perrault said politely.

"Good afternoon, Master Perrault," November replied coolly. She turned to Flora. "You may leave."

Flora nodded vigourously and curtsied clumsily before moving out the door.

They both stood there in silence, looking at each other as if they had the vaguest memory of one another.

"To which do I owe the pleasure of your meeting?" November said with the fullest grace of a true princess.

Perrault's face held the slightest of a smile. "How formal you are, Your Highness."

"As are you," November countered. "What is the reason for you meeting with me at this hour?"

A smile flickered on his face. "Do you wish me to be truthful?"

"Of course."

There seemed to be the slightest wince in his face. "Red asked me to see how you were faring."

November could not mask the surprise in her voice. "Red asked?"

"A rather loose interpretation of the word," he murmured.

November grinned. "How is she?"

"As insane as ever -she still lives in that forest killing things."

November nodded. "That sounds like something she would do."

"Quite."
"How in the world did she convince you to come here?"

Perrault grimaced. "That is one experience that I do not wish to recount."

November winced as well, imagining the axe quite vividly. "I understand."

They both stood there, a thread of unsettled silence spinning between them.

November opened her mouth to say something, but stopped. What could she ask? Her head felt light and her veins were buzzing softly. She sat down on a soft chair, refraining from leaning back to sleep.

"Are you feeling ill?" Perrault asked, the slightest bit of concern in his voice.

November shook her head tiredly. "I am fine, I just feel a little faint."

Perrault studied her face and all the blood in November's body rushed up to her face. She cleared her throat daintily. "Did you have a reason of your own to come here?"

"Just curious to know if you shall be making an appearance at the ball tonight."

November grimaced. That, how could she forgotten about That? Because of That she would sleep the entire day and stay up the next night.

"Of course," she replied; after all, it was being held in her honour. It was the metres of silk and lace that worried her the most.

Perrault nodded and bowed before moving towards the door. "Then I shall see you there."

November nodded, but he had already left.

November leaned her head back, her eyes already closed. She felt exceedingly tired, but she knew that very soon a maid would come in to do up her hair, help her into the dress, and talk endlessly in attempt to keep her awake. The very thought was exhausting. But for some odd reason she felt unexpected enthusiasm toward a night of talking to boorish lords, gossip about her travels, and very sore feet. Well, if anything went wrong she could always have Red "help."

An unexpected laughed clawed up her throat. It was a ridiculous thought, but not as ridiculous as imagining Red at the ball in an expensive dress. November dragged herself out of the chair and got into bed -might as well sleep as much as she could before effectively destroying her feet and dying of boredom.

Flora slid the clasps into place, patting it gently to make it stay in place. She adjusted the large satin ribbon and smoothed out the lace. She smiled cheerfully at November's reflection.

"You look beautiful, Princess November," she said, taking November's hand and leading her to the vanity table. "That shade of blue looks lovely against your skin."

November smiled weakly as Flora gently brushed through her long hair. She pinned November's hair, carefully styling it. Flora giggled as she attempted to get the loose hairs in her face to join the rest.

"What is it that you find so amusing?" November inquired.

Flora smiled at her gently. "Nothing, except that the harder it is to get a woman's hair to conform the stronger her will and spirit is."

November produced a small smile. "It sounds nice."

Flora shrugged. "Nice had nothing do with it, it would be the truth."

November looked at her reflection, amused. Whatever strong spirit was there had decided to leave her at the moment. She gazed at her hands folded in her lap.

Flora picked up an amber and pearl encrusted comb -a gift that November had received from her father on her thirteenth birthday- and tucked it neatly into her hair.

"You look perfect," Flora said.

November did look up and found that she was stunned. It had been a while since she had had been dressed up for anything and seeing herself in the mirror with her face scrubbed, covered from hair to foot in blue silk, and dripping with green amber, she felt pretty.

"Thank you, Flora."

Flora curtsied. "No need to thank me, Princess November, the pleasure was all mine."

November smiled. "Regardless: thank you."

The ballroom was filled with women dressed in silk and satin, swirling with lace; filled with men in fine clothes made of fabric that peasants only dreamed of wearing. This made November feel at home, but she felt uncomfortable. She stood on the side, nodding mindlessly as girls asked her questions about her adventure, and trying to avoid an encounter with Colette.

For reasons beyond her understanding she found her eyes wandering towards the crowd. Every time she did so her heart plummeted with disappointment. She cast her eyes down, scolding herself for wanting something that even she didn't know what. She truly did not wish to be here and longed for her warm bed.

When the other girls saw that she was unresponsive, they asked her about her jewelry. November talked a little, providing only the necessary information. One was eyeing the comb with ill-masked jealousy, but had enough manners to compliment it.

"Yes, it is very becoming."

The gaggle of girls turned their heads. November looked as well and had never been so happy to see Perrault.

"Good evening, Master Perrault," she said, barely able to suppress a smile.

"May I have this dance, Your Highness?" he asked grandly, extending a hand.

November grasped his. "Please."

Perrault swept her onto the dance floor and stepped in time with ease.

"Thank you for saving me," November said gratefully.

"More for my benefit than yours."

November cocked an eyebrow.

"I was rather bored listening to everyone gossip.

"Oh," she said flatly. "What were they saying?"

Perrault gave a small shrug. "Nothing out of the ordinary; they all heard of Red and actually took pity on her."

November snorted in a most unlady-like way.

Perrault chuckled as well. "Yes. That was rather amusing to hear."

November bit her lip to stop from giggling. "What else are they saying?"

Perrault's amused face was suddenly serious. "They referred to several things about you and myself."

November looked at him, shocked. Where had they gotten such an idea? Her face darkened as she thought about it. "Colette."

Perrault looked at her, amused once again. "So she can think."

November sighed. What had she expected? To go on a quest, come home, and that be the end of it? Sadly, that was what she had thought. "At least they'll stop talking soon."

Perrault grinned. "Not for a while."

November nodded, but felt more tired than she had the first night after she found the moon. She clenched Perrault's hand, her feet tumbling beneath her. Perrault cried out and wrapped his arm around her slight waist. Her eyes stung as she struggled to keep them open. She did not wish to go to her bed, inviting as it sounded.

"Sleep," she murmured. "I need to sleep."

She found herself moving, but not to her own accord. For a moment she thought she was floating. She soon realised that her feet were on top of Perrault's and was being waltzed out of the room and into the gardens.

She lifted her weary head and saw the moon shining brightly in the cloudless sky, the stars surrounding it glimmering brighter than any diamond. She was spinning and smiled -she had been smiling so much more often lately that her face hurt- and held tightly to Perrault till he stopped and scooped her into his arms.

She flicked her eyes to his face, shocked.

He held to her tightly as he moved around the castle and stopped before a small grate, the grate that she would sneak out of to play with the servants' children late at night. He kicked it out of the way -she hadn't noticed how rusty it had gotten- and helped her through.

She leant against the wall, waiting for sleep to claim her when Perrault swept her back into his arms. She rested her head against his chest and yawned. November didn't think of what she was doing, just how warm he felt and how safe she felt. With no more thought of decorum she clung to him and felt her body tumble into blessed, wonderful sleep.

November awoke in bed, tangled in blue silk and green amber. She curled into a ball, pulling close to her Perrault's coat. Her eyes opened in an instant and sat up in bed in a flurry of movements. The events of last night came rushing back to her. She had awakened due to Perrault tucking her into bed, but gave up and, instead placed his heavy coat upon and then….

November removed one glove and pressed her fingertips to her lips. One innocent kiss, that was all that had happened, but her mouth still burned. This was not right, she was engaged and due to be married within a month, but something inside of her had shattered last night. Something had been awakened and refused to be ignored, but ignore she must for she was a princess and her duty came first. But, the concept of duty had been torn apart when she had run away to find the moon. November rubbed her throbbing temples. Her duty at the moment was to marry the Boy, something that she could not escape by merely running away. Still….

She wrapped the coat around her and took a deep breath. It had a rather pleasant scent, and was so very warm. She placed her arms into the sleeves and got out of bed.

Well, she was a princess, and did that not mean that she could do what she wished?

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This is a rather old fic. It may not seem old, but by comparison, it seems old. Perrault and November are off, but I had wanted to write something rather fluffy.