Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: START (02/25/16)
TITLE: Stolen Dance
By Sara Harricharan
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They were in the middle of some sort of argument, with wild hand gestures and threatening scowls.
“Lady Marion?” The Queen handed over a glass, extending the second to the surprised Lord Belden. “Enjoying yourselves?”
“Very much. A celebratory ball was a lovely idea.”
“Blame it on Reginald. He didn’t want to suffer through a dinner party with only his court for company.” Her lips twitched.
Lady Marion smiled brightly, her fingers tight around the stem of the glass. “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”
“Except for your two,” the Queen bit back a laugh at the identical looks of dismay. She’d watched them from across the room for over an hour. “They haven’t stopped?”
“They’ve only started,” Lord Belden said, morosely. He downed half the glass in easy gulps. “Don’t even know what set them off.”
“Nothing,” Lady Marion said, helpfully. “She said good evening and he said, what’s good about it and that was it. Did you need Elric, your majesty?”
“Malia,” the Queen reminded her. They were new friends, compared to Elric and Serena.
Lady Marion nodded, nervous. “I could try to stop them, but-“
“Let them bicker,” the King said. He came to stand behind the Queen, a hand on her arm.
She smiled at the gesture. “Danced out?”
He shook his head. “Whatever you are scheming—leave my champion and advisor out of it.”
“But they look so perfect,” the Queen hummed. “I honestly thought they would end up together.”
The King coughed. “They would have killed each other within a fortnight.”
“Probably within the first four hours,” Lord Belden suggested.
“Really?” the Queen perked a brow. “Then wager me something.”
“If I get them to take a turn about the room—you’ll consider that suit of armor from the Rowan Isles?”
“They’ll never do it.”
“And if they do?”
“I’ll buy the matching set—with etching on the shields.”
A mischievous glint shone in the Queen’s eyes. “You have yet to know all my secrets, dearest,” she said, kissing his cheek. “With your Lord and Lady’s permission?”
Lord Belden raised his glass. “I’m equally intrigued,” he said, mildly. “Serena dances like an ox with eight feet.”
“Elric isn’t any better,” Lady Marion pouted.
The Queen winked and pursed her lips, a light whistle drawing the attention of the squabbling pair.
Scowling and elbowing each other, they stood in front of her, somewhat at attention.
“I haven’t seen either of you on the floor,” she said, innocently.
Both paled significantly, exchanging the barest of glances.
Serena swallowed. “I—er—wasn’t-“
“A single dance with each other and you can be excused for the evening.”
Identical looks of horror replaced the expressions of sudden fright.
“Absolutely not-!” Elric blustered.
“With that lout?” Serena sputtered.
“And a full set of armor from the Rowan Isles if you could manage it,” the Queen said, unperturbed. “Deal?”
Elric glowered at her and then at Serena. “Imported?” he said, at last. “From the Third Isle and I want my shield etched.”
“Definitely etched,” Serena said, cracking her knuckles. “I’m leading. Step on my foot and I swear I’ll wring your neck.”
“You couldn’t reach my neck if you tried,” Elric muttered. He turned away, offering an arm as if he expected it to be hacked off.
King, Lord and Lady stared in complete disbelief as the still grumbling pair took to the dance floor with little ceremony.
They blended in with the first strains of the changed song and twirled effortlessly in and out of the flow of dancers—as if they’d been doing it all their lives. Within minutes, it was clear to see that they were very comfortable with each other—at least on the dance floor.
“Cheater,” the King said, at last. “How’d you know they could do that?”
Laughing to herself, the Queen rested her head on his shoulder. “You forget that your Champion was my bodyguard and your Advisor happened to be the sewer rat she rescued from the gutter. Now stop talking and watch. It’ll be years before I can get them to do this again.”
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