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Joining the Dance

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  The wind whipped past them as they rode, her cousin leading the horse as fast as possible. It had been easy enough to slip out of Hylfing. The cool night air and soft breeze through the trees had quickly swallowed up any noises the two had made while leaving.

  She knew where she wanted to go, and that they would have plenty of time to get there and back before anyone noticed they were gone, but she was still nervous. 'What if he isn't there? What if he doesn't recognize me?'

  They dismounted when they reached one of the portals, Henry tying the horse to a nearby tree. Slipping into the darkness of the faerie mound, Henry led her through until they were back above ground, her eyesight adjusting to the light.

  "We'll have to walk from here. This is the closest exit to the ruins.”

  It wasn't too far. She could see the ruins of the Fitzfaeren Palace from here. The moonlight bounced off of them, a dim halo forming around the ruins. As they neared, she could here the music lilting through the air, the rise and fall of laughter clearly heard over the night.

  She ran for the doorway, pausing only to catch her breath. This was it! Henry caught up to her, and together they opened the doors. The figures stopped only for a second, before they went back to what they were doing before, no longer noticing the two teenagers in their midst.

  "I'm going to find a place so I can watch out for the Witch-Dogs. When I signal you, we need to leave, and fast."

  "Okay."

  With that, they were off, both on separate missions.

  Henrietta weaved through the throng of people, her slim nightgown slipping through the large ballgowns with ease. The people began to thin as she got closer to the bar, but she couldn't see through them yet. She couldn't see if he was there. Clearing the crowd, she scanned the length of the bar, hoping that he would be here. 'He has to be!'

  She didn't see him.

  Looking around the room, she saw that Henry had found a spot by a large window, a small door off to his side. He was watching her too, it would seem, for he pointed at something behind her. She turned. A young man who wasn't there before was at the bar, looking through the dishes. He turned just enough for her to see him, long enough to recognize the contours of his face. Her breath caught in her throat. He might have been younger, but this was definitely him.

  Henrietta walked up to him. He didn't notice her. "Eli?"

  Nothing.

  Her hand lifted of it's own accord, placing itself on his arm. “Eli?”

  This time he looked at her.

  "Do you know who I am?"

  He didn't say anything. He didn't do anything. It was like someone had flipped an off switch.

  Sighing, she dropped her hand. Eli returned to normal after that, a young man coming up on the other side of him telling him to get out there and dance. He declined, and returned to perusing the bar.

  "Eli... it's me. Henrietta?"

  He looked at her again this time, but he still didn't speak.

  "Eli... dance with me?"

  She didn't think he would accept, or even answer her at this point, but this was her only chance. She'd  kick herself forever if she didn't ask.

  For a second, something changed. His figure shifted, and suddenly she was looking at the old Eli.

  The Eli who she had dropped down the elevator shaft of this very room. The Eli who had made her sausages in his tiny abandoned hut. The Eli who, for all his rudeness, had worked his way into her heart, a part of her missing him dearly since his death.

  She smiled at him, extending her arms out to him. "Would you care to dance with me, Eli?"

  For a reason she didn't know but was especially grateful for, he agreed.