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Chapter 3 : The Fan Dance
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"Girls? Girls what are you doing in bed? Come on, up, up, up!"
The room filled with light as the heavy curtains on the girls' windows were pushed aside. Dezzy sat up, rubbing her eyes, and saw her sisters were all still in bed, as well. Bea pulled her blanket over her head, and Ettie hadn't even woken up in the first place. Mistress Helga stood by the window, tying back the drapes. As the girls got out of bed, she walked back towards the door, but stopped when she noticed something on the ground, and bent over to pick it up.
"What's this?" she said, standing up. She was holding Dezzy's green dancing slipper, which was worn through from the girls' night of dancing. Mistress Helga quickly went and shut the door, to prevent anyone from eavesdropping. "Girls, have you been dancing? You know what the King says about that."
"Oh, dash it all, who cares what he says!" Bea said angrily.
"Beatrice Ravenclaw! He is your father, and you must listen to him," Helga said.
"And why should we? It's not like he cares about us! When was the last time he read to Julia and Kitty? And what about Dezzy? He won't even look at her because she looks like Mother."
"You know that isn't true-"
"Yes it is! It's no use hiding it from us, we already know!"
"You're just angry with him, and it's making you say things you don't mean."
"Then where is he now?" Bea asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Bea," Clara said softly, getting her sister's attention, "Stop it. You're frightening the girls."
"Is it true? Father doesn't love us?" Julianna asked, tears in her green eyes.
"No, Julia, of course not. Father loves us, you know that," Clara said, walking over to her sister and sitting down next to her.
"Then why did Bea say he doesn't care about us?"
"She was angry."
"But she said-"
"Forget what I said. I'm sure Father has a good reason that he's not here now, and will be glad to see us as soon as we get back," Bea said, trying to calm her younger sisters.
Dezzy stayed quiet, and didn't say anything as the girls dressed. Bea's words were still echoing through her mind. "And what about Dezzy? He won't even look at her because she looks like Mother." The more she though about it, the more true it seemed. When was the last time he had really looked at her? She hadn't had a real conversation with him in months...
"Desiya, are you coming? It's time for your lessons," Mistress Helga called from the doorway.
"Yes, I'm coming."
She sighed and followed Mistress Helga and her sisters down to the library for their lessons. Her mind wandered and she couldn't pay attention. She was caught staring out the window twice, and she only answered one of Mistress Helga's questions correctly, and that was out of pure luck. She knew she had to confront her father when he got home, but who knew when that would be? And could she really be brave enough to tell her own father that he had been doing something wrong? Maybe she would just write him a letter. That would settle it, wouldn't it? Yes, I'll write a letter, that way he can just write me back, and will probably forget about it before he gets home. she thought.
"Dezzy? It's time for lunch."
Dezzy looked up from where she had been staring into the fireplace, thinking, and saw Clara waiting for her at the doorway. The rest of the library was empty.
"Sorry," she said.
"What's going on? You're so preoccupied today," Clara said, as Dezzy got up and walked to the dining room with her.
"About what Bea said?"
Dezzy bit her lip, and nodded, reluctantly. She glanced over at her older sister, who was looking at her with concern in her green eyes.
"It's true, you do look the most like Mother, but Father's just been busy, that's all. You know Bea says outrageous thinks when she gets upset, and half of them are downright lies."
"But she was right," Dezzy said quietly, avoiding Clara's eyes.
"No, listen. Bea was right, that's why he won't talk to me. He never looks at me, not really. And I can't even remember the last time I had a conversation with him."
"Well, he's gone on Royal Business, but when he gets back you should talk with him. I'm sure that will straighten everything out."
"I thought I'd write him a letter."
"Yes, do that. Now let's not talk of this anymore, you don't want the little ones hearing you," Clara said as they reached the dining room.
Dezzy nodded and followed her sister inside, trying to think of something other than her father. After lunch, she went up to the girls' bedroom, and took out a quill and a piece of parchment to write to her father.
It has come to my notice that we have not spoken in quite some time. Bea was angry and said some things that were horribly untrue, one of which being that you have avoided me because I remind you of Mother. I know this cannot be the truth, and I wish to speak with you about it when you return. We all miss you, and are anxious for your return home. Stay safe.
She rolled up the parchment and sealed it before hurrying to the stables to give it to a page who was leaving for her father's camp. He was mounting his horse, so she quickened her pace, trying not to strip over her skirts.
"Sebastian! Wait!" she called.
He turned, hearing her cries, and steered his horse over to her.
"Would you take this to my father, please?"
"Of course m'lady," he said, bowing his head and taking the letter from her.
"Thank you!" she said as he turned, galloping towards the gates.
She walked back to the castle, her cheeks now pink from running in the cold air. She knew she should have worn a shawl, but there just hadn't been time for that. As she slipped back inside, and walked up to her room, she thought of how her father would take the news of her letter. He didn't like to be interrupted while on Royal Business, but this was important. And he could take a few minutes away from his duties to read it, couldn't he? Dezzy shook the thoughts from her mind and opened the door to her bedroom, walking to her bed and sitting down.
"Was that Sebastian I saw leaving?" Bea asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Yes. Why does it matter?" Dezzy answered, avoiding the smirk she knew her sister was currently wearing.
"No reason. But you did run across the grounds to see him. And without a cloak, I might add," Bea responded innocently.
"Nothing happened. I just asked for a favor," Dezzy said, picking up Lenora, who had tottered over to her.
"Oh? And what kind of favor would that be?"
"He's delivering a letter for me."
"And this letter, it's to a gentleman?"
"If you would consider our father to be a gentleman, then yes," Dezzy said, smiling at her sister who was now wearing a very childlike pout.
"Such a disappointment. We were taking turns guessing how old your mysterious gentleman was," Ettie said from her spot by the fire.
"What! I've just now come of age and you think I'm involved in a secret romance with a mysterious man that you know nothing about? Sixteen years and my own sisters don't know me at all. It's tragic."
"Oh stop being so dramatic. We thought you might surprise us is all."
"Well when you come of age expect nothing less than this being done to you," Dezzy said affectionately. Ettie stuck her tongue out in response.
"Ettie, ladies do not stick out their tongues," Addie said with a small frown. Ettie promptly stuck her tongue out in Addie's direction, and the girls giggled from their spots around the room.
"Addie?" Flora called
"Yes," she said, secretly grateful for the change in topic.
"Could we go dancing tonight?" Gertie asked.
"Oh please, please let us go!" the girls called, rushing up to their eldest sister and tugging on her skirts.
"Nothing out of place has happened yet, so we can go, but don't start expecting this to happen every night. You do need to sleep, you know.
"Thank you!" Dezzy whispered as she hugged her sister.
As she thought of spending another night in the pavilion, her heart gave a strange flutter, and she didn't know what to think of it. She couldn't help but think that it had something to do with Salazar...
Bea peeked out their bedroom door before quickly closing and locking it, and running to Dezzy's bed, which was already pushed away from the wall.
"It's alright. No one's there, let's go!"
The girls squealed in excitement and practically ran down the spindly, spiral staircase. The silver forest was as breathtaking as ever, and as the sparkling bridge and pavilion came into sight, Dezzy's spirits soared. Tonight she was dressed in a deep purple gown with layers upon layers of lacy skirts. She received her usual bow from Salazar, and felt her cheeks heat up as he pressed his lips to the back of her gloved hand. As she moved past him and further into the pavilion, she saw a cluster of fans sitting in the center of it. The fan dance! She loved the playfulness of this dance in particular, and remember how she and her mother had collapsed in fits of giggles when she had been learning it.
She picked up a white fan that was decorated with small flowers, and got into position for the dance. As the music started, she flicked open her fan, and fluttered it playfully in front of her face, so that nothing but her eyes would show. Then, as the music from the orchestra picked up, she took a step with her right foot, and flicked out her left leg behind her, coming up on the ball of the foot that was placed on the ground. She took a few quick steps to the left, staying on her toes, and then spun, extending her left arm above her, holding the fan, and her right arm out to the side. She stopped in the small plié before repeating the steps, only faster this time. Her sisters were around her, the little ones playing with the colorful fans, not paying attention to the dance, and the older ones gliding across the floor. As the music grew louder and the dance came to a close, Dezzy rose on her toes again, extending her left leg behind her in a beautiful arabesque.
As she closed her fan, coming down off of her toes, she could hear slow, methodical clapping coming from Salazar.
"Very good, very good! I haven't seen that dance done so well in a long time, and much less by such a beautiful group of princesses."
"Could you waltz again?" Isabella piped up, her face pleading.
"Of course. Princess?" he asked, extending his arm to Dezzy.
She smiled and went to her place across from her, curtsying before coming together with her partner and stepping once again through the familiar movements.
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