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Dance of the Knights

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“My dear Sixsmith, I am in desperate need of your help,” Robert said as he carefully turned a record in his hands.

“You know I’m dreadfully tone deaf and won’t be of much help,” Rufus said as he lounged on an ornate couch looking over the London streets. The small apartment was a fresh addition to their lives and now Robert was pushing all their furniture to the walls.

“I don’t need your help with the music, I need to know if this waltz can be danced.” Robert pushed against the couch Rufus was sitting on with all the strength his lithe frame could muster, but it didn’t budge.

“How should I know if a waltz can or can’t be danced? You would think it would be implicit in the title,” Rufus helped Robert move their couch closer to the window. Oil fire streetlamps flickered and danced as the flight came through the windowpane. “In anycase,” Rufus said, “We would wake the neighbors downstairs.”

“Frankly, I don’t care,” Robert said as he took Rufus’s hands. They were cool and soft from years working in his chemist’s lab. “I just want to dance with you. It’s been so long.”

Rufus brushed Robert’s dark hair out of his eyes. Once dull and neglected, now it was soft and bright, just as it had been before the days of Vyvyan Ayrs and his wretched household. He pressed a soft kiss to his forehead.

“I would love to dance with you,” Rufus said.

“Perfect,” Robert rushed to the record player and started the recording. He ran back to Rufus and practically threw himself into his arms. “You take the lead,” he said as the first notes fell like the footsteps of a marching army.

“But I don’t know how to dance,” Rufus protested as he took a step forward. The music was warlike. Tuba and trombones blared the hulking beat while the violins climbed a major scale in quarter and eighth notes. He tried in vain to force a three beat dance step into a four beat measure.

“Wait,” Robert said as he broke free from Rufus’s grasp and moved the restart the record player. “It isn’t much of a waltz really, damn translators don’t know the first thing about music. Prokofiev would be so disappointed,” he huffed.

When the music started again Rufus decided to just let go and dance as if there never were any rules at all. With each rise and fall of the beat he took long strides as turned Robert in deliberate circles around himself.

When the low brass caught the melody Robert pressed his chest against Rufus’s and took initiative, leading him around the room until the woodwinds took over. The melody drunkenly twisted around the room. The couple held each other at arms with their fingers intertwined as Robert danced around Rufus to the tune of an oboe solo.

The theme and Robert returned to be wrapped in Rufus’s arms. Heavy footsteps emphasized each measure and their breathing, the rise and fall of the phrase. As a refrain of pianissimo grew to forte and then fortissimo Robert leapt and stood on his tiptoes so he could be perfectly eye level with Rufus. For a moment he marveled at his face; how his eyes looked and understood; how his cheeks blushed when he was kissed; how his hair fell just so to give the impression of youthfulness.

The music faded away and Robert pressed his forehead against Rufus’s. “I was away for so long,” he said as he closed his eyes and let the sound of his partner breathing be the only thing he heard.

“I found you, so everything is alright,” Rufus wrapped his arms around his torso, the warm, steady weight calming Robert.

“You almost didn't. I tried to hide. I tried to hide from you,” Robert said, his eyes still clenched closed.

Rufus wiped away Robert’s tears with his thumb. “Robert. I am always going to find you. There is not a town on this earth where you could go and I wouldn’t follow.”

Robert nodded silently. They moved to the couch and he rested against Rufus’s shoulder. “We’re safe now,” Robert said as he nuzzled into his partners sweater.

“We’re safe. No more plagarist composers or angry fathers,” Rufus responded as he ran his fingers through Robert’s hair. “I would have missed you so much. For the rest of my life.”

“You don’t have to miss me any more,” Robert said as he pulled Rufus into a kiss.

It was a tender thing, as soft as harmonics floating above a violin’s register. With their partner in their arms melody and harmony melted into a perfect sonata. It was light as air and warm as sunshine shimmering through spring flowerbuds.

“I love you,” they said together, their voices perfectly matching in tone, pitch, and rhythm.