[P] Shall we take it from the top?
P. Fennore! Feel free to make assumptions! [+525]
It was a strange thing that he was doing. At least he'd gotten past considering it outright moronic. Still it was certainly not something that he’d expect of himself, even if there was a sort of logic to it. No, maybe deciding to do something like that had emotions invade too much on his mind to attribute it to logic anymore. More appropriately, then, there was a sort of traceable pattern to it. This was, no doubt, the reason the Moonwraith could be persuaded to agree to leave the comfort of her room with him at this late hour, though this was far from the day much less time of day for one of their lessons.

Not that she even took much persuading when he thought back to it.

“Forgive me, this may have been a frivolous thing of me to ask…” Just as saying this when she was already walking with him may have been rather ill-placed. Yet he couldn’t help being at least somewhat apologetic. Many things in his manners and speech spoke of a lingering embarrassment, and not just because he still found himself somewhat bashful before her every now and again.

Their discussions as of late have not yet put everything behind them. Not every event of the past month. Not every question they perhaps had need to discuss. There were many yet to pick up and set in place. And amends for this one remaining regret he decided to set in motion on that evening.

The two made their way into the main hall of the Bastion. At this hour, and on this day, it was of course far plainer than it was on the day of the Call to Court. All the food and drink, all the festive decorations, all the eyes that had watched them were missing from the scene. Left in the days of festivities gone by. The room in the now was a far cry from those days. But more importantly the dance he had given her then, after all the anticipation, much of it mutual, he felt was a far cry from what she deserved and from what he wished to provide.

As though in hindsight, logic finally rearing its head from the emotional drive that had smothered it, he realized there wouldn’t be Ambrose here to provide the music. Or anyone else. It was not as though Bellad would have let someone in on this plan and asked to help him do this thing.

The “thing” in question was to come to Fennore’s door in the evening and ask for a chance to call a do over on their prior dance. And now that they stood in this vast room, finding it ill-prepared for their purpose, save for being mercifully vacant, Bellad pondered how prepared he was. His plan may have been somewhat lacking in preparation, and he turned to look at Fennore almost the way he had when she lead him into the unknown waters of the sea. Did she find this whole thing as desirable as he did? And was this wish enough to make up for all that the scene lacked?
The time for lessons had long passed as the day grew long, but the Songthorn stood before her door with a different request in mind, one that only momentarily stumped her before she understood the true meaning of it.

A dance, he said. A do-over. Their rendezvous at the Court had turned out... well. Less than desirable, to put it lightly, and Fennore hadn't expected he would approach her with the intentions of doing it justice. She hadn't considered trying it over again, so now, she certainly would not squander the opportunity.

She wasted little time preparing for the endeavor, only making him wait outside of the room for a few moments as she slipped into one of her gowns and tied back her mane into a pretty plait — if they were going to dance, the Isiltári fully intended to be dressed for the occasion, after all — and then they were off. The grand hall would not be as bustling or beautiful as it had been at the height of winter, but she supposed they didn't need an audience, anyhow.

As long as she had known him, Bellad had not been a frivolous man. He moved and spoke with intention, every action carrying meaning, and this waltz would prove no different. "It is not," she answered firmly. "It is something we both needed."

They had had their fair share of tears and heartfelt confessions, by now. Something less emotionally taxing, something free of worry and fear, would do them good. That was assuming, of course, that he felt as comfortable in his skills as she did, but this room, empty of music and drink and patrons, was free of judgement.

They were alone, and the tinny echoes of the tall ceilings filled the space around them. It was not quite the scene she had imagined for herself when she carefully constructed the events of the Court in her mind, yet Fennore had a feeling that this was something far more meaningful.

"Think not of then. Think of this as our first dance." She turn to face him, the deep hue of her dress flittering around her ankles as she held out a hand to him, an invitation. A second chance.

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ooc [+465]
The courtly celebration may have been over, but all of Fennore’s splendor was intact. He wondered if she had prepared for it. But how could she have? Even he wasn’t certain he would face her with such a suggestion. Not until it came to mind and he set out for the Bastion without wasting a moment of time or an ounce of determination. So then it had to be a talent – what else could it possibly be?

She asked him to think of this as their first dance. And truthfully in terms of experience at least, he’d only come to feel negligible difference between the first and one of the first. But his hand didn’t shiver as he took hold of hers, lowering himself in what, for now, was still an earnest imitation of a graceful bow. Then he stepped closer. He gently clasped her hand in his, and he placed the other just below her shoulder blades. And then, although to the sound of a song only they could hear, he began with the steps.

Bellad had a chance to juxtapose himself now against the shadow of himself that he’d been during the actual Call to Court. He had not realized just how much his amplified sorrows had infused his body with stiffness. They made his shoulders too tense, made his knees too rigid, made his hold of her too uncertain, though he would not have thought to hold hard enough to hurt her even at his worst.

This was different, and gradually the sense of awkwardness was shaken, exposing the act for what it was meant to be. For what it should have been sooner, but hopefully this delay would not eliminate its meaning. It certainly didn’t eliminate Bellad still being but a beginner where it came to dances of the Realm, even if the healer was markedly more relaxed, his movements more fluid.

At first he’d thought to count, but that would have been too much like their lesson, even if the numbers were to be but quiet clicks of the tongue. He did not wish this to be yet another rough draft. He could have focused on counting his steps, but that would risk distracting him too much. He did not wish to look away from her eyes. So instead he started to gently hum, not even immediately aware of it. Though by no means a seasoned dancer, Bellad could carry a tune, and so this faint rendition of Ambrose’s waltz, barely above a breath in volume, was true to the original melody.

They moved, step by step, to this gentle ghost of a song accompanying a ghost of past celebration. They, their dance, were the only things living and bright. All the more so at the sight of his light.
His dark frame dipped in a bow, and she returned the gesture, more mildly, with a nod of her head as Bellad took hold of his Light. Already she could feel a vast difference between his form here and his rigidness from the Court, and she gave his hand a gentle squeeze as her other paw came to rest at his shoulder. While Fennore assumed she would still be leading a majority of this dance — which, of course, she did not mind — it felt as though, this time, it would be less of an obligation. This time, the Songthorn had approached, wanting this, and surely his tenacity, irregardless of his inexperience, would shine through.

The delicate smile on her lips was a permanent fixture of her pleasure, her gratitude that he would think it important enough to revisit. They fell into a natural rhythm, something altogether more comfortable than their last encounter. She had sung his praises, then, but more so to stir him into conversation than commending his somewhat lackluster steps. Here, though, compliments seemed unnecessary. Their silence, the soft admiration with which she looked at him — it would speak volumes well enough.

With others, Fennore so often sought to fill the void with grandiose words and prose. With Bellad, the quiet moments they shared were invaluable. She wouldn't trade them for the world.

Soon, however, something small and melodious reached her ears, and they perked forward to catch the sound. A song, barely hummed above a whisper, only known to them. It was familiar, Ambrose Rose's lilting tone replaced by a reverent hum. It paled in comparison to the sorrowful howlsong that had drawn her to the healer in the first place, oh so long ago, but it carried with it a different sort of beauty.

Fennore chuffed softly, somewhat surprised he went to such lengths to recreate such a monumental night for her, one that had admittedly lacked its proper finish. All of these small gestures; the dance, the song; they set her aglow with a warm, fuzzy feeling, one strong enough to slow their dance into more of a mild sway, wild grass bending to the wind.

Her guiding paw moved from his, her hands instead loosely clasping around his neck. "I needed this," she said for the second time, and she truly meant it.

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ooc [+457]
Though it pleased her so in tandem with the rest of their dance, the humming was not nearly as well orchestrated a gesture as one might have thought. He became aware of the sounds he was making at some point, and almost threatened to feel overly conscious about it. But at the sight of her smile, he figured it was worth continuing, even at the risk of looking somewhat foolish.

He did apply some more deliberate effort to the moves that he learned from her, though he let them flow together with the reminisced song, rather than forced them through like a rehearsed sequence. He’d gone so far as to make a decent attempt at guiding her through an underarm turn. The little flourish clearly relying more so on the Isiltári’s own skill and willingness to go through with it. It seemed to go without a hitch, bringing a gentle smile to the young Songthorn's face.

Soon they came back together, and rather than embellish the dance with any further displays of finesse, it instead turned to something simpler. Yet it felt no less profound. They made their gentle steps, her arms gone from their ordained position that the dance dictated. Although through this deviation he might have lost his way, his body seemed to know just what to do. His arms found their way to her waist, making for a gentle hold that grounded him though it didn’t restrict either of their movements. And the longer it went, the more of a quiet certainty it infused him with.

“It is something we both needed…” He echoed her words, realizing only after speaking that he forgot to keep humming the melody they have been dancing to. Then again, at this point the one in their heads served well enough. The two remembered the same waltz. And with this rendition they stood a chance to seed it in their minds as something pleasant. A dance that seemed to fall so perfectly into place.

He stared into her eyes, his body just about used to the rhythm they’d eased into. Clearly they no longer cared that the room was empty. In fact, it was perhaps in part because it was empty that a motion only half-thought before enactment could take place. Slowly, as though in synch with the pace of their dance, he found himself leaning his muzzle in towards hers. There was only a momentary pause, as though an unspoken request for permission. Was this too presumptuous of him? 

Yet he felt her breath and saw her draw a little closer in turn, then all of his hesitation was gone in a silent flash. And as it faded, the healer and his Light finally met in a kiss.
This second chance seemed to embolden him, and his gentle urging for a twirl caught her off-guard, continuing a trend that evening. A night for firsts, then, and she would have been cruel to deny him. It was a simple move, one she elevated with the sort of embellishment he ought to have expected by now, her skirt blooming around her like a dark flower. He was improving, and she rewarded his growth with a laugh.

Neither of them had returned to normalcy, after the whirlwind of the Court and all the events that followed. For Fennore, at least, she presumed she would not be able to fully return to her routine, and perhaps Bellad felt much the same way. Be that as it may, the man that held her now was not at all the same one that had half-heartedly danced with her back then. This was the Bellad she knew and cherished, the one that sent her heart a-flutter and would stand by her through it all.

It occurred to her, belatedly, that this was, perhaps, the first instance that such a thought wasn't followed by the expectation that he would leave her, as the Anor had. Though such doubt would always linger in the back of her mind, an innate paranoia she could never truly shake, Fennore did not fear it as she once had.

His warm breath scattered across her face as he drew nearer, and her vivid eyes hooded as she chose to meet him halfway. This kiss was not nearly the impassioned, carnal thing it had been in the throes of her heat, but something soft. Something sincere and tender.

That one feeling, the one she still did not want to name, bubbled to the surface when she eventually pulled away, a hum catching in her throat.

"Bellad, I..."

Her brows cinched together, and the wolfess found herself without words. There had been some, before, but they felt all wrong now; too forward. Too soon, even. She swallowed them down and began again.

"I think we ought to do this again, sometime. This hall would never be used, otherwise."

She ran a hand absently through his mane, almost apologetically, before leaning forward to rest her cheek on his chest as their slow sway continued.

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ooc [+420]
Bellad’s eyes closed, as though the healer felt safe enough to abandon all semblance of rigorous caution, all awareness of their surroundings. Instead he let all of it fade into the kiss. Where their previous passionate encounter was only a first for him in a certain manner of speaking, this kiss, upon reflection, he realized was his very first. And he felt glad it was with her. He couldn't think it happening with anyone else.

When they drew from one another, it was only a slight distance. His eyes remained closed for the moment, and he chuffed with a tender smile that lingered on his face. There had to be a name for this. For the swell in his chest. For the warmth. For the want to stay with her, even if it would require clothes and dancing lessons. Maybe, just like she proved to have known that the fae of the Silver Strip were lightning bugs, or that the giant lake of salt was the sea, so would she know a name to call what he was feeling.

Or was it they? The idea felt more and more natural to consider, though he still felt it wrong to presume. His ears perked up at the sound of his name on her lips. Was the truth about to be spoken?

“Yes, Fennore?” He asked, opening his eyes to the sound of her voice, her face coming into view with all the nuance of her expression.

He saw something in her eyes. It almost made her look like she didn’t actually mean to talk about this wonderfully creative use of the hall. This slip into the mundane felt awkward, yet perhaps worth humoring. “Mm… I do believe this is the best way in which I have used this hall.” He drew out thoughtfully, as though at the speed of their dance. Obviously that there have not been many other ways he’d made use of the hall in the first place.

Oh well. If his humming elicited from her no ridicule, then what harm could a ridiculous statement like this do?

More time passed between them in this comfortable fusion of dance and embrace, quiet at some point save for the brush of the fabric of her dress against his pelt. This was a thing infinitely better to remember than his lapse that lasted him through painful weeks at the start of the year. And if it helped craft such a memory, then perhaps some strange ideas were worth following through with.
Fortunately, Bellad did not torture her by questioning this momentary lapse any further. It had not been her most graceful of transitions, but it either worked well enough to ward off all suspicion or, more likely, was not worth pursuing. Were they not happy, here, together, enjoying the dance they should have had a fortnight ago?

Still, she could not help but feel underwhelmed with herself, even if there was a thousand and one reasons not to jump the gun. It was a mistake she had made with the Anor a lifetime ago — though this time, at least, she had some idea of where she and Bellad stood. It was ever-changing and morphing, evolving, but it was not in the abstract. It was real and tangible, and she could feel it cultivate between them and the warmth of their embrace.

She felt herself sneer at his words, finding some merit in his statement. And, if she had any say in it, perhaps he would become more acquainted with this place and its purpose as he scaled the ranks. He was a noble, now, whether he realized it or not — whether he heeded it or not. He was a simple man in that he didn't worry himself endlessly with the politics and the posturing, as she had; still, Fennore felt it was her charge to keep him in the know regarding these things.

Bellad had made the effort to learn how to dance, and learning to traverse the courts was not much differently, really. They were both performances.

For now, though, Fennore chose to focus not so much on the acts that made up a Lord or a Lady; these sorts of things were constantly on her mind as it was. She would be uniquely comfortable with this unknown thing that blossomed between them, anxious and foreign as it was. Slow though they were to identify it.

In this moment, she supposed it needed no name. They were content with each other, and Fennore would be satisfied with that, for a time.

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