There were many things about Azeroth Wrathion knew even before he hatched, implanted in his mind by the machine that had freed him from his corruption. But unfortunately for him, the Titans hadn’t counted waltzing among necessary skills for the leader of the Black flight.
Which surprised him, if he was being honest. After all, the humans of Stormwind acted like it was the most vital skill in the world.
Three weeks prior the dragon had learned he would finally be allowed to make a public appearance by King Anduin’s side— at a gala to honor the monarch’s nineteenth birthday. Though Anduin had said little about the process through which he had obtained these permissions, he imagined it had something to do with the personal nature of the event. Even King Greymane couldn’t refuse a relatively easy request like this one, not on Anduin’s birthday, after all.
That thought brought a smug smile to Wrathion’s lips, but it quickly vanished when the king’s attendants started rattling off the many menial lessons he needed to complete before he could sufficiently serve as King Anduin’s escort.
There was a session with the tailor, of course, and Wrathion had no objections to that. Even though she demanded he wear blue and gold, she was also quick to assure him it was only to match his partner. That was easy enough. But then there had been the etiquette sessions— how presumptuous those mortals had been, telling him which spoon to use and limiting his consumption of wine to one glass a course! But he had complied, for Anduin, for their future together.
It had seemed like he was finally set to attend the event, which was now less than a week away. His outfit was complete. He had finally managed to impress the serving staff with his gratuitous displays of courtesy. There was only one task left, and it couldn’t be too difficult given his grace and poise with a polearm. He needed to dance, and dance he would. If all these nobles had figured it out, surely it wouldn’t prove too challenging for the Black Prince Wrathion.
At least, that’s what he had assumed, before meeting the gruff old dancing instructor in the ballroom just after dawn that morning.
Rubbing his eyes to stay awake through a rather abstract explanation, he yawned. A few key details escaped him, and then he was swept into the middle of the floor by two gnarled hands that gripped far harder than he had expected.
“What are we—?” he started to exclaim, but a swell of piano music cut him off. One hand was tugged up and off to the side, while the other was left to rest against the old man’s shoulder. Wrathion pursed his lips, staring up into eyes all-but concealed by bushy white brows. He felt surprisingly small beside him, and weak as he was dragged forward, his feet slipping across the slick wooden floor.
Again he tried to cut in, to ask for clarification, but the man turned and left him spinning, stumbling even, into the middle of the room with enough force to pry even his claw-tipped nails off the man’s shoulder. Heat flooded Wrathion’s cheeks. His turban slipped, and when he scrambled to push it up off his brow the music came to a jarring halt.
“Come back,” the instructor demanded with a clap. His voice wasn’t sharp, exactly, but it was stern, echoing in the arched ceiling and lingering in the hall. Wrathion could barely meet his gaze when they started again, furrowing his brows and trying to track the sound of the other man’s steps and the way his cloth shoes slipped across the floor’s slick veneer. He struggled to breathe. His pulse pounded in his ears, and the music that filled the room felt like little more than a distant thought.
It was little surprise, then, that he didn’t notice Anduin’s arrival until he had finished his promenade. Trying to recompose himself, tucking a few sweaty curls of hair up under the band of his turban and trying to catch his breath, he turned to meet the other boy’s soft applause.
Anduin’s grin seemed to stretch ear-to-ear. He stood up a bit straighter and approached, and the heat that burned on his cheeks had little to do with exertion. “King Anduin,” he bowed, hoping the display would offset any clumsiness the human had happened to witness. The amused glint in the king’s eyes, however, suggested that nothing he had just seen would be dismissed so easily.
There was no coming back from this one, unfortunately. Well, he’d have to let Anduin have his moment of triumph. It was for his birthday, after all.
“Yes, yes, I know,” he tried to sweep off the smile with a dismissive flick of his wrist, “You are awed by my rhythm and poise, I’m sure.”
“It was…something.” The slight hitch in Anduin’s voice betrayed laughter barely suppressed. Wrathion just shook his head, pursing his lips and trying to stand up straighter. It wasn’t nearly enough of a stretch to make up for their relatively new height difference, but it was an attempt, at the very least.
“Yes, well, it isn’t my fault you humans crafted such a tedious series of footsteps and tried to pass it off as a dance. There are more intuitive ways of following the rhythm, I’m sure.”
“Oh, is that so? Well, maybe you can show me, then.” Anduin’s grin widened even more, if that was even possible.
The dragon shook his head, attempting another distraction with a few steps back onto the dance floor and his hands outstretched in Anduin’s direction. “Or, perhaps you can show me how it’s done. I am going to be dancing with you, after all. It will help to have some firsthand experience.”
It was clear from the color that rose to Anduin’s cheeks he hadn’t expected to be put on the spot like this. But he complied, nodding to the instructor, who quickly relinquished the floor to his king and moved to stand beside the piano. This time, Wrathion remembered where his feet were to be placed at the start, and didn’t hesitate to slide his fingers up over the human’s shoulder and lace their fingers together off to the side.
He looked up. Anduin smiled. There were a few soft pings from the piano player, and then the music rose to a now-familiar tempo and the two of them set off.
Wrathion quickly found that his boyfriend’s footfalls were slightly less certain than his instructor’s, and his grip not quite as strong. Once their knees even knocked together, and Anduin let out a sheepish chuckle. The murmur that followed was audible only to him:
“I struggled with this, too, you know,” the king admitted, twirling the prince out, then guiding their hands back together.
Wrathion arched his brows, his shocked look falling somewhere between feigned and genuine, “Oh, is that so? I thought something so integral to human interaction would come naturally to a king.”
“Ha—Hardly,” After a quick glance back towards the instructor, Anduin shook his head. His golden hair glimmered and swayed under the chandelier light, distracting Wrathion into another stumble. Once more, Anduin struggled to compensate, and their feet bumped together, Anduin laughing and Wrathion drawing in a sharp intake of air.
“I mean,” the king continued, after a few moments to gather his own composure. “They started me on this when I was eight, but it still isn’t quite intuitive.”
“Like I said, it is cumbersome, at best. That’s really quite understandable.”
“I know, but the nobles enjoy it. And besides, we only have to do the one.”
“One is more than enough!”
Distracted by their playful complaints, however, Wrathion somehow seemed to find his footing. When he finally directed his attention back to his feet, he found they were keeping relatively close pace with the other man’s. Satisfied, he looked up, and offered Anduin a genuine smile. The king returned it, squeezing his hand, staring into his eyes for a pause, and then admitting in a voice barely audible beneath the song.
“You know, you can learn the lead, if you want. I’m not supposed to, but—”
“But seeing the look on the nobles’ faces when I twirl you into the promenade might be worth it?”
Anduin’s blush rose to the tips of his ears, and he glanced to the side: first to the dancing instructor at the corner of the piano, and then to the opposite wall. With a slightly cough, and a grin, he moved his hand to Wrathion’s shoulder and left the side of his own waist exposed.
“Yes,” he admitted, with a shy smile meant only for Wrathion. “Yes, something like that.”