Ack. Late. I'm late. Not as late as I've been, but still late... I've been wanting to do this for a while, but couldn't really figure out how until Rimsa Carstairs mentioned it in a review and then I was inspired. I sincerely hope this lived up to your expectations. I guess that, if the books go like I think they're actually going to go, my time-line is completely whacked. But whatever. I'm also using the fact that this one is in the future to explain away all OOC-ness. It's my default excuse since it's borderline impossible to argue with.

Disclaimer: Not mine. Luckily, Bloodlines belongs to Richelle Mead, who's much better at this kind of thing than me.

Prompt Twenty-Four: Observations by The Raveonettes

Flowers in the daytime and Lucifer at night

This woman said I'm torn between two lives

"You look beautiful," he said when he sat down next to her. She jumped in surprise. When Sydney processed both Adrian sitting across from her and his words, she fixed him with a warning look to which he smiled in response. "Just on observation," he told her. For a second, she thought he was drunk which wouldn't have been all that odd since they were at a wedding and all. But a closer glance told her that he was quite firmly in the world of sobriety—although the champagne glass in hand made Sydney wonder if he intended to stay that way.

The lively music carried on in the background and people flew by them elegantly as they danced. It was beautiful, Sydney noted, although she knew she wouldn't put that in her report that she had to write for the Alchemists. On paper, that was why she was here. Seeing as she knew the bride, it made sense that she would be the one sent out to observe and document it. Unfortunately, the wedding caused so much emotion that it was hard to be objective, and Sydney knew that there was a lot she wouldn't put into the report.

For example, she would not add the fact that she had actually wanted to come be a bridesmaid so she could support her friend, not study some vampire who was only under observation because she had once been a Strigoi. Nor would she mention the way she inwardly reacted to the vampire beside her. Sydney looked around the greenhouse, hoping it might distract her. Or give her something that she could actually report.

The greenhouse really was huge, just as Sonya had said it was, with walls made of faintly tinted glass which revealed the plain white snow falling relentlessly outside. Yes, December had arrived, but its dead, hungry fingers could not touch anything inside the building. In fact, being inside the greenhouse was like being in an entirely different world, a world where everything was spilling over with raw life, colors and shapes and sizes all but divine to the eyes. Sydney thought that she would've found the sharp contrasts between the two placed side-by-side to be unnatural, nearly the same as vampire magic, but instead she found it poetic. Beautiful.

You look beautiful.

She cringed. They had agreed that saying that kind of thing was to be avoided at all costs. But he had slipped, and it had risen the tension between them to a new height.

"Uh-oh," Adrian said suddenly.

"What?" Sydney asked, suddenly worried that her report was going to end up filed under some kind of attack, although what the enemy might be was most certainly beyond her imagination. When she caught sight of who was coming, she almost found herself wishing that it was a Strigoi. That much, at this point, she could handle. But this? This was going to be unpleasant.

"You know, you two really shouldn't look so enthusiastic," Sonya said dryly. "It's not like this is a celebration or anything." She look stunning, truly queenly in her dress that was the same pure white as swan feathers. It was a simple enough dress for the most part, strapless and with a train that trailed across the floor gracefully, except for where the fabric had been artfully folded together into the shape of white flowers.

Sydney stood up and hugged her, smiling genuinely. "Congratulations," she said, because she was afraid that if she kept talking she would tear up again.

Adrian hugged Sonya as well. For once, there were no witty quips. Just a simple, honest smile. He turned his eyes to Sydney and the smile faltered slightly, matching the uneven beating of her heart. Clearly, they weren't being subtle enough in their awkwardness and Sonya crossed her arms, peering at the two of them with an intensity that would've been weird if not for the fact that Sydney knew what was going on. This, she thought to herself, was exactly what she hadn't been looking forward to.

The bride studied their auras with a knowingly stern look on her face, as if she chastising two children for being idiots. Which, in some ways, she kind of was.

"Stop sitting around," Sonya scolded them lightly. "Dance! Eat cake! Have fun! It's a wedding! It's my wedding. I'm...married now." And then a wide smile broke across her face, like everything she'd ever dreamed of happening was falling into place before her eyes. Then she was pulled away by other loved ones and Sydney and Adrian were alone again, their silence somehow even more awkward now than it was before.

Then Adrian rose to his feet and held a hand out to Sydney. She stared at him blankly for a couple seconds and he shrugged helplessly.

Oh, she wanted to take his hand so badly that she could feel her own trembling. In the end, that was the ultimate problem. The temptation to break the rules Sydney had worked so hard to set up—and now worked even harder to keep up—was painful. It was like resisting gravity, trying to resist him. But she was determined to make it a good fight.

Sydney looked up to politely refuse, but she saw the look in his eyes, the sardonically amused glimmer, and she couldn't even make an attempt to hide the wistfulness in hers. With that, the walls came crashing down and the Alchemist told herself that just tonight, despite that she was here to simply observe, despite that there were many people here to observe them, she could (she would) take his hand.

With the same barely restrained tenderness he often looked at her with, he pulled her to her feet and then to his chest. They didn't need to be this close to dance, Sydney kept thinking to herself, but she really, really liked it. It felt right.

They didn't really dance all that much, per se. It was the closeness that mattered, the closeness that she couldn't stand.

Sydney turned her eyes down to watch her dress spill around her like a shimmering waterfall of gold. Despite making her feel slightly silly for being so elaborately dressed, Sydney supposed there were worse bridesmaids dresses in the world.

"Bride's orders," she said with forced nonchalance. She was disorientingly close to him and coming up with anything more than that was simply too much work, but silence was even more unbearable.

"How can you say no to that face anyway?" Adrian asked wryly. Sydney couldn't help but smile. It was true. Sonya Karp-Tanner was a hard person to say no to. Considering that it was her wedding, it felt even more wrong to deny her anything. Her piercing stare from across the room was also a bit of encouragement.

They were careful to stay in the corner where they could be seen by fewer people, and there was an obvious strain between them. But there was nothing to be done about it. Just this one dance, Sydney told herself forcefully. You can make it through just this one dance.

That was all she would allow herself.

And at the end of the dance, they would pull apart. They would put the proper amount of space between them, so that the people watching them would quit their intrusive staring. But away from the crowds and prying eyes, he would call her beautiful in whispers brushed across bare skin, and she would take his hand without debate or hesitation. He wouldn't stare down at her with longing, because he was free to kiss her as often as he wanted to. There were no secrets when they were alone.

"I love you," she would tell him frequently, as if making up for all the times she couldn't.

"I love you, too," he always replied, because even when she didn't say it, he knew she thought it and that was good enough for him.

Away from those who would observe with disdain, they danced together in peace and dreamed of a day like this that would be theirs.

The amount of melodramatic angst/corniness I put into that makes me wonder if I've been watching too much of The Vampire Diaries. I have almost all of the next chapter written (it's even more depressing than this one), but I need to steal my copy of The Golden Lily back from my mom...