Disclaimer: I do not own Teize and Une, nor do I own GW, and I'm not making any profit off of this. Okay? *g*

The ballroom was resplendent. Fluted marble columns rose up from the checkered floor to support a vaulted ceiling. Clusters of dignitaries in full formal regalia stood facing the orchestra's stage, where a young man in military dress was making a speech, his blue eyes flashing with passion as he spoke. The tastefully coloured lights brightened his ginger hair, giving it the air of a halo. When he finished, all of the dignitaries clapped politely and returned to their drinks. They'd heard it before - they were here to be seen, not to see.

All, that is, except for a wide-eyed young woman standing near the back. Dressed in a deep purple evening gown, her brown hair falling loosely over her shoulders, she stood entranced by the young man. She'd never seen such fervour before outside of a duel. This man... she'd never believed in fate before, but somehow she knew she'd follow him past the end of the world if he asked it.

"Lady Une?" She gave a start, snapped out of her trance by the intrusive voice of her aide.
"Lady Une, the dancing is starting. It would be a good idea to join in, your mother says. She believes it would be a good way to make yourself known."
"Thank you."

She'd never much liked dancing and balls and public functions, but she saw the necessity of them. They stopped the elite from killing each other and gave them a sense of superiority, as well as the more practical (politics-wise) aspect which allowed the nobility to keep its faces in the papers. Some people seemed actually to enjoy them for the balls themselves, rather than for the maneuvering. But this was what was Done.

So she Did, allowing a man twice her age to lead her around the impersonal dance floor, steps perfect but too precise, only to be replaced with another pompous face. She bore it as well as she could, going through the motions that had been drilled into her since childhood: left, right, curtsey, smile, swish the skirt as you promenade, and thank your partner. And again. And again. Ignore the fact that your feet ache in your too-high heels, that you'd rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, that you aren't watching your partner's face but rather soaking in the colour of the swirling skirts behind him. Be a Lady. Such a simple method of forming alliances, this. Such a complicated thing, to make oneself do.

It took a couple of hours, but once she had danced with everybody, she excused herself, and returned to her place at the back of the immense hall. She needed to get out, needed to go somewhere devoid of pretense. She needed a drink. Be a Lady. She had to Be A Lady. She could always hear the capital letters when she thought that. She was a Lady, first and foremost, heir to her family estates, and she must comport herself accordingly. She asked one of the butlers for a large glass of lemonade, chilled with a little extra sugar, replying politely to his 'yes, madam' and thanking him when he returned after but a moment. The trappings of wealth were well named - everything at your command, yet so very cold and too sweet.

Drink in hand, she glided - a Lady must never stride, or show haste - to the French doors in the center of one of the walls which led out to a balcony. She'd been there before, and it was her favorite refuge in this too empty place. Opening the doors, she breathed in the sight and smell of the familiar climbing roses which twined around the white latticework, simple and clean, before realising that the roses were not the only hint of colour here.

The young man from earlier was there as well, leaning on the rail and staring at the sky, absentmindedly twirling a rose between his forefinger and thumb. The blue of his coat and half-cape matched the dusky blue of the twilit sky so perfectly she'd only seen the silhouette of him against a still-pink cloud. At the sight, she could not stop a small 'Oh!' of surprise from escaping, and he turned around, a strange half-smile on his face as he proffered the rose.
"Lady Une." It was not a question, and his liquid voice wrapped around the words so beautifully that she took a moment to realise he'd spoken her name.
"You know me?" Her eyes widened as she sniffed the rose automatically. Such a deep shade of crimson.
"How could I not?" When he said it, it sounded perfectly rational. She was herself, and he was himself - naturally he would know her. In fact, she recalled his name from earlier.
"Lord Kushrenada?"
"Of course."

Of course. It seemed they'd known each other forever. She'd been taught what to say when introducing herself, but somehow it all seemed superfluous. There wasn't anything more to say, really. It was obvious that, like her, he much preferred to be away from all of the pretense that awaited their return inside. They stood there in companiable silence for a while, as the sky grew darker and the stars came out. The orchestra played on behind them, managing to sound clearly despite the ever-present babble of voices.

Lady Une was staring at the stars, picking out the constellations, when his voice came at her left ear, whispering.
"Look, Lady. The stars themselves are dancing." They were, too. She thought she could see them spinning in time to the ancient waltz being played by a trio of cello, flute, and something else... a harpsichord, she thought. Generally such pieces were played by the full orchestra, but the fewer instruments gave it an ethereal quality, thin notes seeming to float on the wind itself, whirling in three beats.

He came around in front of her, and she didn't need the stars anymore. Wordlessly, he held out a hand, and silently she accepted it. His other hand came to rest on her waist, and there was passion rather than perfection in his steps as he spun her in circles, one-two-three, one-two-three, repeating but different. The stars matched their spin above, and the wind was the music now, and as they waltzed she was smiling.