The waltz was almost a jingle, repetitive and entrancing, in the halls of Vienna, or was it Kiev? Pan didn't quite pay attention – at the turn of the century, one European city for another, it didn't really matter.
He'd never been young, he would never be old – mitotic bastard, would be the term, later, but for now, he didn't know it, he just knew himself to be a little bit like them and also very much different.
The dance ended and another started, and the lovely girl he'd been eying all evening smiled, shyly – she was brown of hair and slender, something delicate and pretty, to be worn on your arm like a fashionable bauble. She looked familiar, in her periwinkle dress, tresses smooth and spiraling in well-tamed English curls. She fanned herself, sighed decorously, and the charm was broken. Too artificial, too calculated. She would be fun to play with, but she was too willing. Then again, who didn't want the delightful Lord Robert Longfellow? It had been so easy to take on title – having friends in convenient places did help. Then again, Pan, no, Robert didn't quite mind the luxury. Instead, he reveled in it.
And then there was a moment of pinching sadness and he couldn't quite place it, and he wandered over to the balcony. He found himself wondering if Pidgeon was around – the damn peri did have a way to come and go at the most inconvenient times, after all. This was one of those periods in between long bouts of fellowship – they weren't talking, and finding a bedwarmer at the Emperor's ball, under the blinking, yellow light of chandeliers didn't entice him any more. The scent of fine white wine – was it from the Moselle Valley? It might have been – oh, but the French would find it so ironic if it was – the scent of fine white wine didn't quite feel so heady anymore. He longed for something raw, something pungent, like thick port wine drunk straight from the barrel.
Lord Robert Longfellow left the ball walking with his hands behind his back, as though he were the high deacon of decadence. He just walked and went home, like a sour bachelor. Bollocks, he wasn't even drunk.
He entered the room where he slept in the midst of gold-silvery-lined satin sheets – did the color matter? It might have been deep marine, and in this state of mind, he didn't care. Stripped down to his shirt, he lay down to fall to an uneasy slumber.
She was beautiful – he remembered her as clearly as the dawn of his first day. She was young, so young, and even then he'd been an old thing of puckishness. Her eyes twinkled a little – amber eyes, like jewels in a high-priced porcelain doll. Her hair looked smooth like feathers – dark, chocolate brown locks, untamed if not for the little golden circlet. He smiled, a little.
"Been a long time, luv," he muttered in his hazy slumber. "Where you been all this time?"
She just smiled, and nestled herself between his arms – he didn't think much before he covered her lips with his, slowly, not timidly but with a touch of respectful reluctance. She made a soft, sweet sound and kissed him back, beckoning a sound of pleased surprise.
Somehow their clothes vanished, somehow he entered her, gently, at a pace that took into account the fact that she was still to be wed. Ah, the day Iphigenia would be married, Pan would gladly make him a cuckold, but until then... until then, he wouldn't, he couldn't. Not when he was thinking, anyway, but Pan never was too good at forethought. Her soft embrace moved under him, dancing with him to a gentle movement, and he groaned in her mouth in response to their shared pleasures.
When it was done, he lay against her, eyes closed, touching her skin tenderly.
In the morning, he woke up to an empty bed, remembering clearly the dream. "Begad," he groaned to himself, "I haven't thought of her in a thousand years." A glance at the calendar told him what he hadn't realized yet.
It was the anniversary of the day he'd helplessly witnessed Iphigenia dying a virgin.