Chapter 2 : The Second Night
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It was only after a few more dances that they realized someone was watching them. He walked into the pavilion slowly, clapping as the girls finished their dance. Dezzy moved closer to Clara and Bea, pushing the little ones behind her. She was suddenly concious of the several inches of skin that were showing at her ankles. A blush spread across her cheeks, and she wished she had something to cover herself with. Here she was, finally of age, and a gentleman was standing there looking at her in nothing but her nightgown!
"I apologize, my ladies, if I have frightened you. Do allow me to introduce myself. My name is Salazar."
The girls said nothing, looking at him with wide eyes. He was dressed in black from head to toe, and a dark ponytail was tied at his neck. He was tall and thin, and stood looking at them with strange, yellow-green eyes.
"You can speak, can you not?" he asked, with slight amusement in his voice.
"Yes. We can speak. Why were you watching us?" Bea said, boldly stepping forward.
"I did not mean to intrude, but I have been waiting for someone to discover this pavilion. When I heard you, I couldn't resist seeing who had come."
"You've been here alone?" Dezzy asked quietly, unable to stop herself. She dropped her eyes when he caught her staring.
"Yes, princess. But now that you all know I am here, perhaps you will come back? It is nice to have company. And there are quite a lot of you, to be sure!"
Adella stepped forward, leveling Salazar with a cool gaze. "How did you come to be here?"
"Ah, that is a very good question. One that deserves a very good answer. I lived in the palace before the reign of King Wilfred. One of your ancestors, I believe. At that time, the King who ruled our country used dark magic on his subjects, and when his kingdom was conquered by your grandfather, I was trapped here. I cannot go past the edge of the forest."
"And no one has discovered this place before us?" Dezzy asked.
"Unfortunately, no one has come this far, if they discovered this at all. But, now that you are here, that is no longer the case. Please, continue dancing," he said, gesturing to the open floor of the pavilion.
The girls' faces lit up at his words, but then Adella spoke. "Actually, we must be going."
"Pwease wet us stay, Addie," Katherine said, pulling on her sister's skirt.
"I'm sorry, Kitty, but-"
"Oh, come on. The girls never get to dance, and you know Mother would have wanted them to learn," Bea said.
"She's right. Even though Father doesn't approve, I believe he's wrong, in this case," Clara added.
"A few more dances, but then we are going home," Addie sighed.
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" the girls cried.
They stepped and twirled around the pavilion, before Clara and Bea got the young girls settled to watch a waltz that they had not yet learned. Addie noticed the flush in Dezzy's cheeks, and recalled her younger sister's broad grin as she had danced through the steps she new by heart. As she sat behind the little ones, pulling Lenora into her lap, she watched as Dezzy took her place across from Bea to perform the waltz.
"Excuse me, my lady, but you should not have to dance the gentleman's part. Allow me to partner your sister," Salazar said to Bea, giving her a small bow.
Bea stepped aside, watching in anticipation for the dance that her sister, who was just barely of age, would dance with this strange gentleman. Adella opened her mouth to protest, but Bea silenced her with a small shake of her head. The dark haired man offered Desiya a deep bow, his nose almost touching his knee. Dezzy traced her left toe behind her, slowly lowering her knee to the ground, and inclining her head prettily towards her partner in a graceful curtsy. The young girls gaped in awe. As one, Dezzy and Salazar stepped together, moving across the floor as he led her through different steps and spins. The simple box step was embellished with what seemed like effortless whirls and turns. Finally, he pulled her into one last underarm turn, and she spun out, ending the dance in another deep curtsy.
The girls clapped as Dezzy stood, looking at the ground. She blushed with pride, and looked up when Salazar approached her.
"You are truly one of the best dancing partners I have ever had," he said.
"Alright girls, time to go. It is far too late for you to still be up. Come on," Addie said, picking up a sleeping Lenora.
"If I may be so bold, would you care to return? The pavilion is always so quiet, it was nice to have someone dancing in it."
Dezzy looked expectantly at Addie, hoping that she would say yes.
"I shall think about it," she said.
Then, without another word, she led her sisters back over the bridge and through the silver trees. Dezzy turned to get one last glimpse of the pavilion and it's strange host, but when she looked, he was gone. She climbed the spiraling staircase and slid out from behind her bed. When Clara entered the room last, they pushed Dezzy's bed back into place, and silently moved to their separate beds to go to sleep.
Desiya slipped between the blankets, truly exhausted, but blissfully happy. After all this time, she had finally been able to dance again. She thought back to Salazar, and how it had felt to dance with him. His hands were firm, but gentle, and he had led her through the waltz with perfect ease. She wondered what it would be like, living alone in the pavilion and silver forest. As her eyes fluttered closed, Dezzy smiled to herself, hoping desperately that she could return to the beautiful pavilion, and it's strange occupant with his dark hair and captivating yellow-green eyes.
"Dezzy!" a voice sang into her ear.
"Mmm?" she replied, not bothering to open her eyes.
"Come on, get up! We've got to go to breakfast with Father. You know he doesn't like it if we're late."†
Dezzy saw that Ettie was leaning over her bed, urging her to get up. She sat up and stretched, yawning broadly. She had had the most wonderful dream. They had gone to a magical pavilion, and danced the night away! And the man there, who had danced a waltz with her,the man called-
"Salazar said he wants us to come back!" Dezzy heard Bea say angrily.
"So it wasn't a dream?" she asked, getting out of bed.
"No, of course not! Unless we all had the same dream," Bea said. "And Addie, you know we have to go back! Think of the girls."
Dezzy looked around as Bea said this, watching as Flora and Gertie tried to help the little ones wash and dress. They had always mothered their younger sisters, and even though they were only thirteen, they could get Lenora and Katherine washed, dressed, and ready for breakfast just as well, if not better, than their older sisters, with the exception of Addie, of course. Dezzy agreed with Bea; the girls should be able to go back, they deserved a bit of fun.
"I know you enjoy prancing around like a colt, Beatrice, but Father doesn't want us dancing, and something about that man Salazar just doesn't feel right to me."
"Well, Adella, Mother would want us to dance! You know she would've taught the girls if she was still alive!"
Addie looked around to the girls pleading faces. Bea with her hands on her hips, Clara with her nose in a book, and Dezzy's eyes full of hope as she waited for her sister to say something. Ettie sitting on her bed with her eyebrows raised, Flora and Gertie standing with the little ones, Holly waiting expectantly, Isabella's round face pink with excitement, Julianna hanging onto Clara's skirt, and Katherine and Lenora sitting on the floor playing with a small wooden ball, unconcerned about the issue at hand.
"Alright. We can go back tonight. But if anything strange happens, we're coming back here for good."
The girls squealed with excitement, and Dezzy threw her arms around Addie's shoulders, who hugged her back tentatively, unsure of how to respond to the sudden rush of affection from her little sister. As the day slowly ticked by, the girls whispered of returning to the silver forest and magical pavilion, unable to contain their longing to dance again. Dezzy noticed that time moved particularly slowly, now that she was excited for something, and when dinner was finally over, it was all she could do not to run back up to her bedroom.
The girls quickly changed into something more suitable than nightgowns. If they were going to see Salazar again, it wasn't going to be with several inches of their ankles showing! Dezzy put on her favorite green frock, which made the green flecks in her hazel eyes shine brightly. The girls were a swirl of colored crinolines and lace, with the exception of Addie, who still wore black a few years after their mother's funeral. After putting the final pin in her auburn locks, Dezzy turned and helped Bea push her bed aside, and slipped behind the panel into the secret forest.†Silver trees greeted her, and a smile crossed her face as the sisters walked to the shining pavilion.†
Salazar waited for them, making a deep bow as Dezzy passed. She blushed prettily, and turned away, hoping that her sisters were too busy dancing to notice. She glanced at him, and he caught her eye, making another small bow. After a night of wonderful, freeing dancing, the tired Ravenclaw sisters started to go back to their room. As she left, Salazar kissed the back of Dezzy's hand, and she could still feel it hours later, as she laid awake in her bed.
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