This one's a bit long for a oneshot, but I've seen longer. Hope you enjoy Dancing! Reading and reviewing will earn you a cookie. =D
Man, this is old. But I always liked this chapter, so I thought I'd actually take the time to edit a few things that really bugged me. Hopefully, it flows a lot better than before. :D
Deep in her chambers, draped with silks of emerald green and cotton sheets, the Queen of Attolia lay peacefully in slumber, momentarily forgetting the existence of the outside world. The room was silent; the only sound the gentle labored breaths of her Highness sighing in and out. Her face, normally blank of any emotion, was relaxed and content. A rare smile tugged at the corner of her mouth and her eyes gently shut. Her dark hair, loose from its usual bonds of pins and clips, tumbled out across the pillows. If a guard came in to check on her, he would have been stunned to see his queen so unguarded and feminine.
Unfortunately, this tender moment was interrupted by a soft whistling coming from her open window. It broke the fragile silence and gently woke the dreaming Queen. Her eyes fluttered open at the sound and she leaned up against the pillows, confused and wary. At first, she dismissed it as nothing but the wind blowing through the trees, but then the rhythm of tapping feet joined in and it got louder. She groaned and rose out of bed. The wind made her nightgown flap wildly about her. She boldly stepped toward her bedroom door. Her servants, whose beds resided just outside her chambers, were woken by the creaking of her midnight entrance and made tired sighs as they reluctantly followed her into the passageway. Though they complained and moaned of exhaustion, too tired to care that they were in the Queen's presence, they still took the tentative steps up the stone stair case that led to the roof of the Queen's apartments.
Normally she would have let her guards handle such an insignificant problem, but curiosity overwhelmed her and she found herself, dressed in only a nightgown and emerald slippers, climbing the roof of her apartments into the moonlit night air. As she reached the final step, she found an odd occurrence that made her and her entourage stop and stare at the scene in front of them.
The King of Attolia was dancing, but that wasn't the strangest part. There was someone dancing with him. She was a tall, thin woman with clear gray eyes and long, black hair in a white dress. Stranger still, Attolia could see straight through her body. It was if she was a ghost. The thought gave the Queen chills.
Eugenides didn't seem to notice anything off at all, as his eyes were closed. The ex-thief was dressed in his best robes. His usual Mede coat with its bell shaped sleeves covered his hooked hand from sight. He and the woman smiled like they were having the time of their lives.
It was a graceful dance filled with lots of stepping and twirling. Though his hand clasped onto the invisible hand of the woman, he danced beautifully. She was as equally elegant in her translucent steps. They matched each other foot for foot and hand for hand, mimicry at its finest. Attolia and her attendants could only gape at them in awe.
Then Irene heard it.
It was a slow, soft tune that made her eyes lazy and her head heavy. It was the sound that had guided her all the way up her.
And it was coming from the woman and Eugenides. She found herself humming along despite her shock. The king and the ghost circled and glided to its melody, entrancing Irene with their fluidity.
Loathe as she was to break the spell of the moment, the mystery was making her heart beat out of her chest, but just as she was about to call out to him, the dance ended and the whistling ceased. The ghost, facing Irene, waved and gave a sly wink before disappearing into invisible dust.
Gen turned round and opened his eyes. He stared at Irene in surprise.
"Out for a stroll, my queen?" He raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
She left her attendants and took a few tentative steps onto the roof toward him.
"Who was that?"
"Who?" He gestured in confusion to empty air. "Who was what?"
"You were dancing with..."She wasn't sure how to tell him he had been dancing with a ghost.
"Myself?" He grinned." Yes, I suppose it is a bit strange."
"Then why are you dancing out here?"
"To celebrate a special occasion."
Just as she was about to ask what was so special, he changed the subject. "Now I have a question for you. What is her Highness doing up on the roof of all places in the middle of the night?"
"Your whistling is what woke me. I could hear it all the way from my bedchambers."
His expression grew wistful. "It's a tune my mother taught me."
She didn't answer. Was that who that woman was?
He continued on." We invented that little dance together. She used to whistle the tune to accompany the steps."
Irene didn't have a hard time imagining Eugenides as a child. Though his body had grown older, his mind would always be that of a child.
"It's the anniversary of her death isn't it?"
Gen nodded with a sad smile." She fell off the roof of the Eddisian palace while dancing when I was just a boy. She died doing what she loved."
Irene knew what it was like to lose family members. Her brother and father came into her mind's eye.
Eugenides noticed her grim expression and stepped forward to take her waist with her left hand. She put her right hand where his hook now was, careful to grab the sleeve instead of the hook. They danced and twirled, stepping in and out of each other's arms. Irene in only her nightgown and Gen in his long Mede coat.
As they turned round and round, Gen spoke again. "It was never the same after she left. My father and I fought before her death, but afterwards we argued constantly."
She stretched her hand out and grasped his sleeve with the other.
"Did you know he wanted me to be a soldier?" Irene snorted. He gave her a thin smile. "Hard to believe, I know. Don't worry. I couldn't stand the bloodshed, so I became the Thief of Eddis instead."
He gathered her back into his arms and she dipped low, supported by his only hand. Their faces were so close; she could feel his breath on her neck.
His eyes twinkled. "He was none too pleased about that."
She laughed." And how did he react to his son becoming a king?"
He pulled her back up and once again placed his hand at her silken waist.
He shrugged. "Oh, you know. A grunt here and a growl there. You should be honored though, my lady, he does seem to respect you if nothing else."
"You must be mistaken. What kind of person would respect a cold, emotionless statue?"
Eugenides just smiled secretively. "My father isn't the type who would respect someone without a heart." He leaned in close to her and placed a hand over her beating chest. "Which you are not at all lacking."
She glared down at the floor and he chuckled.
"What was she like?" She asked, desperate to get away from the subject of herself. "Your mother I mean."
"She was beautiful, kind, and clever." He started to step into the dance again. She followed. "They called her the Queen Thief."
"She was the Thief of Eddis?"
He shook his head. "No, that was my grandfather. She merely liked to pocket the items people were the most proud of. She would either hang them round her own neck or give them to the gods. So if you bragged around your golden necklace, Eugenides' altar would probably have it by the next day. People knew not to insult her."
"Sounds like someone I know."
"She was also known as a thief of hearts." He flashed her a dazzling smile. "Now you know where I get my charm and good looks from." She rolled her eyes.
Her voice dropped below a whisper. "Do you miss her?"
He went silent for a few moments, ending the dance. His eyes were thoughtful as he spoke.
"Always." He kissed her tenderly. "But now I have you."
When he leaned back, his cheeks were slightly flushed and he even grinned sheepishly at her. He kissed her hands, flashed a sly grin, and walked back down the stone steps into the palace, before she could say another word.
She was left gaping at the spot he had been standing, her face like a tomato. With a small smile on her face, she followed her husband back inside with one last glance at the empty rooftop.
She shook her head. "I must have been seeing things."
Moments after they left, a woman, clad all in white with clear, gray eyes and long, black hair, stood with Eugenides, god of thieves. She gazed down the stone steps in silence.
Are you ready to go? Once a year, that's all I can give you.
The woman sighed. I know. She smiled. He has grown up so fast.
He has grown into a good man.
The woman nodded. Mischievous like me but stubborn like his father.
Eugenides smiled. The night mustn't end so quickly. I can grant you a couple more hours.
She turned to look at him with a knowing glint in her eyes.
Your sister will scold you for letting me going over my limit.
So she will. He held out his hand. Would you care to dance, Queen Thief?
She laughed and took his hand. And so, mortal and god danced into the night while whistling a slow, sweet tune to the sky.