Reynie looked around the ballroom and adjusted his tie. The gala was held every year for the higher class citizens of Stonetown. The Society had been invited every year since their defeat of Curtain. A waiter comes by with a tray of champagne. Reynie grabs a glass even though he’s only 18. It is New Year’s Eve after all, and besides one glass of the sweet bubbly drink won't get him drunk. He lets the bubbles rest on his tongue. Scanning the room, his eyes lock on Kate. She’s sitting at a table, her chin in her hand watching Sticky dance with Constance standing on his toes. He makes his way over to her. Her scarlet dress flows down her legs as she sits, nervously tapping her toe.
“Hey.” She turns to him and her face lights up. She gestures to the chair next to her.
“Here sit.” She sniffs his glass. “Reynard is that alcoholic?” She says, lightly taunting him. Reynie raises an eyebrow and takes another sip as his answer.
“It’s only champagne.” She reaches for the glass and takes a sip. He can see the stress in her eyes from being away from her bucket. The song changes and he offers his hand to her. “May I have this dance?” He can feel the blush creeping across his face, but he doesn’t care.
“Not here, I’m not much of a dancer, and I do have a reputation you know.” She smiles, her eyes bright and teasing. She takes his hand and leads him out onto a large stone balcony, still decorated with greenery from the recent holiday. “Here.” The night air is crisp and chilly. The music drifts out of the ballroom as if it’s floating on the breeze. She places his hand, firmly, on the small of her back and takes the other in her own. He smiles and begins the dance. It’s no more than simple twirling yet due to the closeness to Kate, it’s taking more focus than expected. He can feel the warm weight of her hand through his jacket.
“You look beautiful tonight.” She looks slightly taken aback. Her blue eyes opened wide. Quickly she recovers.
“Are you drunk?” She laughs pulling his arm tighter around her.
“No, well not yet at least.’’
“Well, thank you. You’re not too shabby yourself. I don’t think I told you this, but you look really good with glasses.” After years of reading in the dark, he’d finally needed glasses. The thick rectangular frames were chosen not for their fashionability, but for the fact that he foolishly lost a game of poker to a psychic and so Constance got to pick the frames.
“You think so?” He tried to sound nonchalant about the ordeal, but he couldn’t help his heart racing and the waver in his voice. Kate thought he looked good, REALLY good in fact.
“Yeah, and I’m not the only one. After we had our picture in the papers recently I googled us and, you sir have quite the following of tweens and teens.”
“Wait, really?” They stopped spinning. “Me?”
“Well, yeah. Why not? I hate to tell you this, but you kinda grew out of the whole awkward teen phase.” He looked her over. He wasn’t the only one. Sure, she was conventionally attractive as she was tall, blonde, and (to an indoor person like himself) almost annoyingly fit. However, it was the little things about her he admired most, her bright, happy eyes, the splattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, the passion she exhibited in everything she did, the amount of love she gave to everyone she cared about, the list went on. “Are you okay?” She moved out of his arms to wave her hand in front of his eyes.
“Are you sure, because you just zoned out for a while and-”
“Can we keep dancing?” he asked after another sip from the champagne glass. He longed to have her in his arms again. Although he wouldn’t admit it, it was a longing he’d had for a while. She looked slightly taken aback.
“Uh, yes, sure of course.” She moved close to him, and this time she didn’t have to guide his hands. He wrapped his arm tight around her waist, pulling his friend close to his chest again. He looked down at her (he’d finally passed her in height, much to her disdain). She didn’t meet his eyes, and he could swear he saw a blush creeping across her cheeks.
“My my Kate Weatherall, is that a blush I see.” He had a confidence around her that he didn’t around other girls. He couldn’t explain it, but flirting with Kate felt, natural somehow.
“No.” A lie, he could tell because the color spread even more across her face.
“You aren’t the only one who grew out of an awkward phase you know.” He beguiled, a slight smirk added to the slight tease. She looked up at him now, all previous nervousness hidden. Her scarlet, flowy gown hung off her curves like it was designed specifically to complement her and her alone. Even though she’d gotten in several arguments with Number 2 about the “combat disadvantages of a ball gown”, she drew the eyes of the town when they walked into the ballroom.
“There were a few posts about that as well.” The song ended and the only sounds now were the slight hum of traffic. Reynie didn’t drop his arms, to the contrary, he pulled her closer. Her hands moved from his waist to up behind his neck, yet she kept eye contact the entire time. Slowly the two young people leaned closer together, pupils dilated and cheeks flushed. She leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder, leaning into his hug.
“I-” he stutters, his voice low and sleepy.
“Hm?” She pulls away with concern in her eyes. She reaches up and cups his face. “Are you okay? You look exhausted.” He places his hand over her own.
He feels the question rise up, even if he isn’t sure if we wants the answer. “Can I kiss you?” He winces at the shock in her eyes. “I’m sorry, I just-” Suddenly, her lips are on his. He can feel her hands shaking slightly on his waist, but none of her perceived nervousness was reflected in her lips, as they remained strong and steady on his. She parted, her cheeks red. Reynie was still in shock, a blank expression on his face.
“Oh god I broke you.” She laughs nervously, waving a hand in front of his eyes. “I hope that was okay?” He shakes his head, as if to shake the fog from his brain.
“Okay?” His voice is still distant. “That was the most more than okay thing that’s ever happened to me.” He watches her smile, and laugh as the friendly giggle bubbly up from her throat. He grabs her hands, shaking them in his enthusiasm. “Kate Weatherall, we just kissed.”
“You’re catching up quickly.” She smiles. He moves his hands to her shoulders and shakes her slightly as they both laugh. He laughs and leans forward, pressing his lips to hers. He feels her smile against his lips, and in that moment he knows this kiss is only the second of many.