Death presented hus invitation to the doorman at Catherine Palace. The Beta doorman in his crimson and gold blinked at it, before his mind decided to comprehend what it said and let Death in.
Death was announced to the long ballroom as the Grand Duke John of the West, which was interesting as choices of names went. Hu wondered sometimes what people saw on the card, or the letters of invitation, or the stone tablets before that.
Hu looked in one of the gold framed mirrors that lined both sides of the ballroom that human cleverness used to make the room infinite. Hu looked like huself. A shadow that gave light definition. Tonight, the Dukes and Princes acted if as hu was an Alpha, so hu supposed hu must be to them.
Hu danced in a long line of people forming complicated figures on an ornate parquet floor. Hu passed by each Omega, swathed in sweet scent and glittering stones, and passed by Alphas, deep in their musk and gold braid. Hu did a series of crossed spinning figures opposite paired Alphas and Omegas. Hu laced hus way up the line of dancers.
When they were done, hus partner said, "The Master of Ceremonies partnered us so quickly, and I didn't want to admit to not catching your name before. I am Lady Sarah of Sawhoff. Who have I had the pleasure of dancing with?"
Hu smiled and was about to answer when someone said, "You're dancing with Death."
John turned slowly. Hu wanted to savour the moment.
A tall thin Omega woman in a black wool dress leaned against the gold trimmed wall as if she was doing it a favour.
"What?" asked Lady Sarah. Hu kissed her hand and she forgot hum. That was what happened at Death's kiss. When it wasn't the other thing.
The Omega, Sherlock, because hu knew her name, hu knew everyone's name, was holding a white cloth clutched in her hand flecked with red. She said, "I am not going to die tonight."
"No," Hu agreed. Hu held out hus arm to her. "How did you know?"
She took hus arm. "I am not an idiot and I would have to be not to know you." She was thin as paper and almost as fragile. She liked opiates. It was in her eyes and in the tiny holes up her arm. Hu was mildly judgmental. Her mind was too beautiful to cloud.
She left hum in a huff.
It was fine.
It was all fine.
She'd been the most interesting person hu'd met in a very, very long time.
Hu found her in a study lined in pieces of amber that glowed in the candle light. She was trading poisons with a mean little Alpha, a musky merchant of spices. Death brushed hus index finger oh so gently against the little Alpha's chest. Hu died. Sighing, "Moriarty." Death's finger had that effect. Well, not the Moriarty part.
Sherlock said, "No!" She grabbed Death's wrist. She had to stop and cough blood into her handkerchief. "Something interesting was finally happening."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Death is very interesting. Actually," she slid her hand through hus arm, "it is."
They promenaded. She told hum who everyone was. The Alphas hunting for favour. The Omegas put on display for alliance. At the centre, the unmarried Omega Empress with her new glittering gown of gold – a new gown every day - and her Alpha lover walking wounded behind her. He could knot the Empress, but she'd never bond with him. Their children were kept unacknowledged in a clean Dacha by hordes of Betas outside St. Petersburg, this cesspool of the empire. Sherlock smiled as she said that.
She told hum their faults and their frailties. She was amazing. Hu told her so.
She wiped the blood from her lips. "I'm not dying tonight."
"No," hu agreed.
The evening ended when the sun decided to show up and shine blindingly on the gold that wrapped the palace's exterior.
Death did have responsibilities. Hu delegated. Hu moved into Sherlock's palace in Saint Petersburg. It was a pleasant enough place along a canal in what had been muddy muck a generation ago. People really were amazing creatures. Hu liked them a great deal.
Her brother, an Alpha with a mildly deceiving smile, took one look at hum and said, "Only my sister would take up with Death." He was not a Grand Duke or a Prince of anything. He was a minor official with major officiousness. His mind was a labyrinth that Death had no interest in.
The palace was very nice.
Death took up hardly any room.
Sherlock took up a great deal of room.
She took hum to look at dead Beta revolutionaries. She explained how they had died and why. Death was very impressed.
She drew hum into mysteries that had nothing to do with murder. Hu had no idea how the blue carbuncle made its way into the neck of a goose. Hu did not know why a young woman was hired to teach piano, but only if she would cut her red hair and sit in front of a window. There were dozens of them. These puzzles that didn't end with the final solution. With hum.
Hu knew she was showing off for hum. She was like a firework over the river in front of the Winter Palace.
She went into heat quite suddenly one day. Her scent swam with life and yearning. Hu smiled sadly as she sagged against the wall like a marionette with cut strings and the brilliance faded in her eyes.
An Alpha in rough spun growled at Death as Hu escorted her home. She leaned towards him yearning for life.
Death said to the Alpha, "That is a very bad idea." Hu smiled pleasantly at eyes glazed with red rut. Death was kind. As kind as Death could be.
Hu sat beside her bed as she cried out for life. Sometimes she bent doubled coughing. Her white handkerchief a pattern in bright red. The smell of decay mingled with life's scent.
She was angry with hum for a day or so after that Hu had seen her like that. She wanted to be seen as the firework over the water.
She had enemies. More than one, but one more than most. There was an explosion near her palace. She was being engaged in seduction, which somewhat irked Death.
Hu said very coolly, "Should I leave you alone with your Moriarty?"
She yelled back, "Yes, you idiot!" and left hum sitting in the stiff chair by her bedside.
That's when hu knew. How could hu not. Hu was hum and she was her.
Hu met her by a canal by the midsummer's midnight sun. She coughed into her handkerchief. "I'm not dying tonight."
Hu said nothing.
"I'm not Moriarty," she said.
Hu said nothing.
"Oh, fine, kiss me," she hissed at hum.
On that hu was able to agree.