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They Danced

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"Are you enjoying yourself this evening?"

She took the hand he offered with a smile.

"Yes, I have. How about you?"

"It's noisier than what I'd find comfortable, but I suppose it satisfies."

One hand on her shoulder, the other on her hip. Both hands on his shoulders, they began another dance.

"Oh? Has all the talk about peace ruffled you, Fen?"

Had he become more trusting?

"Why would it?"

As if he could ever.

"Hmm. Perhaps you don't believe any of it?"

Had he fallen for the bait?

"Do you?"

No, he's still unwilling to believe anything.

"I'd like to."

Couldn't he see?

"Oh? Do you, now?"

He didn't believe her.

"Well... it would be nice. To stop fighting."

She'd gotten too used to not fighting.

"Hmm. That would require the countries to stop warring. We both know that will only happen when one seizes power."

There's nothing to be done about it, except to fight.

Isn't that the whole point of all their dances?

To fight?

She stared into his emerald orbs, and he stared back. Both found uncomprehendable depths behind each other's gazes, and both wished they could descend it without fear.

But that was not possible. It seemed impossible.

The music had ended, and a new song was to start soon. With it, a new dance.

"To dance with you was a pleasure, Melia."

"The pleasure is mine."

Fen chuckled. "Pardon me, but I have business to tend to."

"Will you be back for another dance?"

He looked over his shoulder, a smile small and crooked painted his lips.

"I'd like to."

When the night ended, and all were about to head home, Fen had yet to return.

He never said goodbye.

Swallowing her fears, she went to find him.

She searched the place thoroughly, looking for any signs that he was still inside the building. She couldn't find any.

He went out.

No.

No.

The alley- the one that was originally proposed-

-Before Ashe suggested another

No.

There he sat against the wall, a hooded figure sprawled beside him.

"M-Melia..." he croaked weakly.

She was already on her knees before him.

"I do apo-apologise... but it seems... we've had our last dance."

"No. No, don't talk like that. The fighting- the fighting can be stopped. Look, you managed to stop one! You-"

"I've done all I could."

Blood. He coughed up blood.

"Heh... Goodbye, Melia."

He smiled. A crooked smile. A pained smile.

A trusting smile.

She took that smile for herself, the bitter taste of iron with it.

"It was... a pleasure... dancing with you."

His hold on her hand loosened.

The smile was gone.

His eyes no longer held any depth.

They had danced their last.

Blood drifted down her lips, and she swore it would be the last she spilled.

The peace treaty had to succeed.

For the bond they fabricated and made real.

For her dance partner.

For Fen.