The dance is complicated, full of intricate moves – they say it’s the most complex in the universe – but she’s trained all her life. Now she knows why.
He’s there, a stranger in beige against everyone else’s carnival colours: gold and silver and deepest reds and blues. An outsider has no hope of performing this dance to the Duke’s satisfaction, but he’s taken the challenge. The penalty for failure is death. She catches his gaze, wills him to her side: Choose me, Doctor. She takes his hand, and leans in; breathes: “Follow me.”
They dance; she knows the impossible steps and he’s reading her, matching her movements even more exactly than she’d hoped. Clever boy. Isn’t he always? It’s the star dance as it should be and almost never is – and at the end the Duke must pay – release his friends, and let him go.
Not her, though – she’s betrayed the court. She waits only to see him run before she sets her chin, meets her fate. Brave heart, Clara.