A/N: Hi, everybody! I'm sorry I took so long to update. Even though I think constructive criticism is useful and good, it took the wind out of my sails for a while and I procrastinated over writing the next chapter. But, I think my rewrite made it better. So thanks! Also thanks to all the readers who urged me to continue, that really inspired me to do another chapter. On another note, the dance described in this chapter is the Volta. I know it's kind of cliché to use nowadays with all the 16th century period films and shows using it, but I couldn't find any other of waltz-like dance that pre-dated the actual waltz. I can imagine waltzing going on at Cair Paravel because of the Pevensies, but I pictured Archenland having more Medieval/Renaissance customs.
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Over breakfast the royal, plus Aravis, proceeded to inform Prince Cor of all his social faults that had yet to be redressed. Aravis contributed most to the lecture.
"You know Cor, you have the most annoying habit of avoiding eye-contact whenever anyone engages you in conversation."
"You always look at your feet when you walk," Corin chimed in.
"I can't help it." Cor mumbled.
"And that's another thing! You are a mumbler! There is nothing as unattractive as a mumbler."
"Well, then maybe I don't want to be attractive. I'd rather be left alone, anyway." Cor said as clearly as possible and not bothering to mask his mounting irritation.
"Keep it up and you will be alone," Aravis shot back.
The family fell back to eating and the poor prince had a brief respite. But, he had lost his appetite. King Lune watched his eldest son push his ham, which he had spent five minutes cutting up, around his plate. His shoulders sagged as if someone had put a yoke around his neck.
The king had recently begun to observe his son with concern. Of all the tutors he gave him, a tutor in deportment was the only one he lacked. Suddenly finding out he is not a lowly fisherman's son but a prince and not only a prince but the Crown Prince of Archenland is a lot for a boy of thirteen to process. Thinking that it might overwhelm the lad, he had held off giving Cor instruction in court etiquette.
So, King Lune held it off and held it off until, before he knew it, five years had gone by. In the back of his mind Lune had hoped that Cor would just pick up the new habits through simple observation. But, Cor still lowered his head slightly and dipped or shifted his gaze whenever spoken to. Even with the servants. And because of Cor's rank, none of the palace staff dared to correct him.
King Lune sensed that this was more than shyness and he fell into a brown study that lasted until the ball.
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Soon after breakfast Aravis and Corin disappeared somewhere together, leaving Cor to hope they had forgotten their threats of lessons. But, after an hour or two, They hunted Cor down and dragged him to the Great Hall where the dance would be held.
It was already emptied of its usual furnishings and the servants were in the process of putting the finishing touches on the decorations.
Aravis held a timbrel in her hand. Corin was holding a dummy, which resembled an unfinished, over-sized rag doll. He often used it for target practice.
"Look sharp, brother!" Corin tossed the dummy to Cor who, instead of catching it, just stepped out of the way.
"Poor Lady Amberjill . . ." Corin said with fake exasperation. "You were supposed to catch her, Cor."
Cor answered with a fake apology.
"Oh, was that part of the lesson? So sorry."
With a loud sigh Aravis broke into their pointless banter.
"If you children are done fooling around, I'd like to get started."
The three spent the entire afternoon drilling Cor through the list of the dances that were scheduled for that night. Cor was familiar with most of them from the few balls he had been to since he came to Anvard.
"There is one new dance on the list," Aravis said while sitting on one of the settees sitting against the wall. She was rubbing her right foot. Cor kept stepping on her instep. "It is one of the traditional dances of Terebinthia, though apparently it's just reaching the mainland. It's called The Gazelle. I did not know it myself until Corin taught it to me this morning. Would you kindly demonstrate, Prince Corin? Use the dummy this time. My feet are all black and blue."
"Well, if you wouldn't go so fast-"
Aravis waved away Cor's protests. "Just watch."
Corin picked the dummy off the floor and, bowing to it, flashed a smile that dripped with mock suavity. Aravis smothered a laugh and began to beat a three quarter time out on her timbrel.
Corin assumed the first position of the dance. He faced the dummy and pulled it close. Then spinning in a slow circle, he held it by the waist and lifted it into the air so it's eyes (if it had had eyes) were level with the top of his head. He did this at intervals and each time he brought the dummy back down to earth, he brought it back against his chest.
Cor's attention was suddenly distracted by a sharp pain in the palms of his hands. He did not know when he began to clench his fists, but he did it hard enough to create angry, red fingernail marks.
For some reason he did not like the idea of Corin holding Aravis in that manner.
"And that's it," Corin announced, stopping in front of Aravis and Cor.
"Seems simple enough," Cor muttered.
"Stop muttering!" Aravis scolded.
"Of course it's a little different with a real partner. Though the weight isn't really an issue since the momentum of the dance does most of the work."
" . . . Unless Aravis is my partner." Cor mumured with a smirk. Corin doubled over with a bark of laughter.
"Ha! Good one, brother!"
"Are you saying . . . I'm fat?" The Tarkheena's voice was dangerously low,
Cor knew he signed his death warrant, but for some reason today he felt like pushing Aravis' buttons.
"No, not at all. I'm sure it's all muscle."
"Are you saying I'm mannish?"
"Well, you could stand a few lessons in femininity . . ."
"If you were a visiting prince and had said that to me while I was still a Tarkheena in my royal Calormen home you would've received thirty lashes!"
Corin, sensing the tension in the room mounting, gave a nervous laugh and said "Well, it's a jolly good thing we aren't in Calormen."
"Sometimes I wish I were back there!" Aravis said, launching herself from the settee and storming out of the hall.
"Another check mark on your quarrel quota for the day, eh?" Corin chuckled as he plopped down beside his brother.
"As always," Cor replied quietly.
"So . . . are you going to dance with the dummy?"
"Oh, are you volunteering to be my dance partner?"
Corin shoved him off the seat.