The eldest son of the Spades household adjusted his cravat and stared furiously across the ballroom. Granted, the eldest son of the Spades household was not good at anything but staring furiously. It was kind of what the Spades household was known for. Furious staring, and a panoply of knives rivaled only by the Knife household.
As the eldest son, Slick was expected to a) observe everything with a middling to intense anger, b) carry at least three blades upon his person, and c) marry a woman and spread the Spades name. He had accomplished two of the three. The only obstacle preventing him from the third was, in fact, what he was boring eye-holes into right at that second.
She was beautiful by any man's standards. Pale-skinned, dark-haired, with the only the barest hint of life-ruining witch around the eyes. Her name was Snowman, because take that, historical accuracy, and since she strolled into Slick's life it had become less of a bed of roses and the corpses of his enemies and more of an exercise in how much he could hate someone before his sheer fury made him combust. So far, he had not managed. Much to her disappointment, he was sure.
Unfortunately, the side effect of watching Snowman with the intensity of a famished hyena being led around by a hunk of gazelle covered in A1 was that she saw him. He was, after all, standing like an idiot in the middle of a party, which was, as parties often are, full of people dancing, not craning their heads after their betrothed. The only dance Slick was doing was between his eyes and Snowman's full bustline. Angrily.
Distracted as he was with being intently displeased, her sudden appearance in front of him made him jump. It may have also had something to do with the fact he was five-three at best, which put him at just about the right level to comfortably observe her toes.
"Why, master Slick," she started, conversationally, "I've only just arrived." He knew that already. After about half an hour he had to take a glaring break, lest his furrowed brow knit itself into a charlie horse. Since so far his face didn't feel like it was made of pain, he estimated she had only been there about five minutes before zeroing in on her hapless victim.
The sound of her voice was like so many angels. So many horrible, avenging fury-of-the-lord angels. Slick nearly emptied the night's h'ors d'eouvres onto his fashionable spats at the mere sight of her. Droog would have had a stroke. The diagnosis would be shock at sheer disregard for keeping one's clothes clean.
"Your colleagues have had the good graces to compliment me this evening. I left my jacket with the help." She smiled widely, with all the comfort of a person who had spent their night mainlining arsenic. Slick regarded her with about the same face as he usually regarded people who asked him to donate to good causes. Slick was known to stab people who asked him to donate to good causes. Slick was known to stab a lot of people.
"Ooh, Miss Snowman, ooh." Slick mimed being faint at her presence, having finally stopped trying to think of an effective pun. He had gotten as far as 'maybe something to do with dancing' before the awkward silence got so long that even people who were eavesdropping subtly were turning to stare and wait for a response.
He might as well get this over with, before his dignity was in even more tiny pieces. If there were more tiny pieces he thought he would probably have to classify it as sand. "Fine, you heartless monstrosity. Let's do this."
Snowman thrust out her hand like a weapon at that. It took Slick a moment to realize she wasn't trying some very poor karate. This was in and of itself a feat, as both of them were English and had no idea what karate was.
Eventually, slowly, he extended his own arm to her, taking her hand like it was made of spiders. Venomous spiders. Venomous attack spiders, specifically bred to loathe the blood of Spades. He was, however, expected to dance with her at least the once, lest he disgrace the family name and also face her indescribably passive-aggressive wrath. Slick was not particularly worried about the family name, seeing that he was also a murderer, forger, petty thief and kicker of kittens. (Puppies he spared and then took home to love tenderly.) He had, however, once seen Snowman make a man bleed through thinly veiled insults alone.
"If you insist." She even bared her teeth. Sometimes Slick wondered if she wasn't the spawn of the devil, and then he remembered that he would never sink so low.
"And I will do you the honour of remaining clothed."
They danced like their four left feet were made out of steak knives and the toes of their partner were shittily overcooked beef.
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