"Dance with me, dear husband?” Hélène asked, a small tipsy smile upon her lips while a hand played with the pearls around her neck as she gazed down at Pierre, who while being seated was still almost at eye level with her. Despite her question she already knew what his answer was to be, which could account for the alcohol she’d consumed first. It was easier to deal with the inevitable refusal if she drank herself into numbness first. It was something she was well accustomed to doing these days.
Pierre spared a glance for her before draining the remaining vodka from his glass and then settled back in his chair so that he could look up and see his wife clearly. He remained silent for a moment, merely observing her before his gaze was drawn away to the guests around their ballroom, lingering on Dolokov and Anatole as they spoke in a corner before shaking his head. “And why would we do that, dear wife?” Pierre leaned forward to grab a bottle so he could refill his glass, raising it in a mock toast to the woman standing before him. “Is there some new fancy you want? Or are you trying to distract me before someone comes and tells me what a whore my wife is?”
It wouldn’t be the first time he’d heard it, certainly not in those words of course, and definitely not to his face. His wife was a beautiful woman, there was no denying that and he knew it was easy for her to find someone to fulfill her pleasure’s since she certainly wasn’t coming to him for that, she hadn’t since the first years of their marriage.
The smile immediately dropped from Hélène’s face and was overtaken by a frown, jaw clenching as she tried to ignore the pain his words caused her. She had known it would happen, had taken the steps to try and prevent it, yet he still stung her. “Your words are cruel, despite what you may think,” She paused, unsure of letting her usual mask of indifference down before deciding to continue. “They are untrue and they do hurt. I merely wished to dance with my husband, nothing more.” At this she turned away and made to leave before he could see the hurt that was quickly blooming across her face, no longer able to hide it. He had never noticed any of the times before but that was her own fault, wasn’t it?
She had played her role in Anatole’s little scheme and for years now had let her husband think these terrible rumors about her were true, all to protect her brother. She also knew that despite marrying her, Pierre had never harbored any love for her, had never made an attempt to despite how she’d tried to gain his affection when they were newlyweds and she supposed that’s why she went along with it.
In her mind it was easier to deal with his rejection and lack of interest if she gave him a reason for it because then at least she could tell herself why he didn’t want her, could tell herself his disgust in her was because of her supposed affairs, and not because he didn’t like her as a person.
“Wait…” Hélène froze as Pierre’s large hand gently encircled her wrist, glancing down for a moment to stare at those fingers before slowly looking up to her husband's face, surprised to find what looked like regret in his gaze as he spoke softly. “We can… I apologize, we can dance if you wish.” He waited for her to refuse him, to have changed her mind at his harsh words against her but found that no refusal came from the woman before him, merely a slight nod of her head in acceptance. Pierre watched as a smile spread back across her face, smaller than before but still heartbreakingly beautiful, and for a moment he imagined a different life for them, a life without rumors and fighting, a life where they were actually happy and in love and it brought a smile to his face as Hélène carefully removed her wrist from his grasp, only so that she could take his hand instead, giving it a gentle squeeze before she spoke. “Let us dance then, dear husband.”