The large doors opened, inviting him into the room. He stepped in cautiously, glancing around to see he was on top of some sort of balcony like structure with stairs coming off both sides. He went close to the railing, placing his hands on the thick marble. People were chatting down in front of him, the music playing softly.
All of a sudden, the chatter started dying down, faces turning to look at what others were. Gulping, Keith steeled himself when he saw all the eyes on him. He was never good with crowds, especially when the attention was on him. It didn't matter though. This was for Lance. He came to warn him, even at the cost of making a complete fool of himself.
He steeled himself and straightened his back, stepping to his right and descending down the stairs. His heels would've made a very, very loud clicking sound in the ballroom if it wasn't for the soft music still playing. He thanked the musicians internally for that.
The eyes on him were still so very unnerving and unmoving as he finally stepped off the last stair. Now what? He looked around as quickly as he could, noticing what kind of looks he was getting - amazed, shocked, awed, jealous, narrowed and many other mixes. It made him feel even more nervous.
"Hi!" A voice said suddenly. He turned to see a little boy, no more than six years old, standing beside him. His hand was on his dress, tugging it to get his attention.
".. Hello." He replied slowly. He wasn't really good with kids - one reason was because he didn't get to be around many of them; the other is because he doesn't really like them. But, he's been to town enough to know how to at least act around them.
He looked around to see if there was a frantic mother or father looking for their son, but what he got surprised him slightly. Half and more of the people that were staring turned their attention back to whatever they were doing like nothing had happened. A small clearing was also starting to form in the center of the ballroom. Hmm. Interesting.
He turned his head back at the boy to see him smiling at him shyly, his shoulders hunched and his hands behind his back. Even Keith had to admit he was adorable.
"Would you dance with me?" He held out a tiny hand for the other. That took our galran by surprise. He didn't really expect to be asked to dance, let alone by a little kid. He admired the boy's courage to ask someone he didn't even know to dance, but he didn't have time for this.
"Are you sure your parents will be alright with you dancing with a stranger?" He knelt a little before the boy, his bright blue eyes shining in the light. They were awfully familiar. It didn't matter, he needed to stay focused.
"My mom and dad always tell me that I'll need to find someone someday!" He said in an excited tone which made Keith's eyes widen. He was taken aback by the answer. Why was a kid like him thinking about marriage?
"I'm sure your parents will worry if they see you dancing with a stranger." He needed to come up with excuses, at least for the boy's safety. He didn't need to drag a kid into this mess.
"So... You won't dance with me..?" Perfect. The boy was on the verge of crying. What's even worse was the people around them. Whispers flew about, accusing and hurtful. He did not need this right now.
With a sigh, he offered the kid his hand, a small smile playing on his lips. Immediately, like he wasn't just about to start bawling, the boy smiled up at him wide and too his hand eagerly, pulling him towards the open space in the middle as the music continued on to play. The boy grabbed his other arm when they stopped and started to twirl around. Keith had to admit, even if didn't want to be in this situation, the altean knew the basic moves but he lacked rhythm.
He had such a troubled look on his face too. His head was tilted to his feet, his lips in a pout and his brows furrowed. He remembered when he and his mother would dance together- he used to make the same expression. His mother would laugh and assure him that he was doing fine and continue to dance. So, an idea popped in his head.
"Put your feet on mine." The boy looked up at his dance partner, his brows going up in confusion.
"What?" He voiced his thoughts. Keith chuckled a little despite himself.
"My mother taught me how to dance like this. She would move her feet with mine on hers and I'd memorize the steps." He explain as he encouraged the boy.
"But mama said never to step on anyone's feet." Keith smiled at that too.
"It's alright if it's dancing." He reassured with the softest smile he could offer.
The altean boy stared at him for a moment or two, contemplating what to do before he smiled -wide and big- and did as he was told.
"Okay!" He looked down and gently placed his feet on Keith's saying: "Your dress is so poofy!" And honestly, it did look like his dress wanted to swallow the boy.
The galran laughed at his comment, grinning as he tightened his grip on the boy and started swaying. He started off slowly, figuring out how far the boy could step, then he began to twirl and move, making the altean laugh. Maybe kids weren't so bad.
Far off in the corner, a pair of violet eyes were looking at the mysterious guest dancing with her son. Almost all eyes were on them, looking on at how the young prince was dancing with this lady. She'd never seen her before -must be from a far away kingdom- she thought to herself.
Though, it was strange not to know someone who looked so.. extravagant. Her dress looked like it cost more than her life and her hair looked like it was bathed in the freshest of waters with the softest of creams.
She had asked around a while before and no one knew her either. It was like a fairy just decided to appear out of thin air and steal the show. The only thing that was missing was her wings.
Rosa started walking towards her throne, keeping a close eye on the mysterious woman- yet she couldn't help the small smile that made it's way up to her lips. Calderon looked happy and carefree, not that he didn't any other day. The young prince usually hated parties where he had to dress up, yet the young boy was enjoying himself now.
"Say, do you know who this young lady with Calderon is, Rosa?" Alfor, her husband, asked.
"No, sire." She replied, looking at the king. "I haven't seen nor heard of her before. Seems that no one has." She tilted her head back to the center of the ballroom.
This time, instead of Calderon and the young lady being the only ones dancing, it seemed that all of the princes and princesses rounded up on her. Rosa sighed. She could see the small distress on the lady's face. Her family could be so overbearing.
How'd Keith get himself in this predicament, he knew not. All the knew was that one moment he was dancing with the young boy, twirling him from time to time and laughing along, and the next he was being surrounded by more kids and teens.
Here's how his personal hell (is it really hell though?) began. He was dancing with the young boy and a girl, who seemed to be the little boy's age, ran up to them, asking Keith to dance with her too. He couldn't help but oblige.
Then a toddler and a boy about eleven showed up. The toddler was slobbering all over the preteen's shoulder though the other didn't seem to mind.
Next a girl, who introduced herself as Matea, came up behind him and complimented his dress. A slight flush made it's way up to Keith's cheeks.
And finally, a girl around seven and a five year old boy walked up to them, talking about the baked goods on the buffet table like they were old friends.
That's how, our dearest Keith, found himself in between an endless amount of questions.
"Where did you get that dress from? It's soooo pretty!" The seven year old said.
"Your hair looks so soft." Matea complimented, pushing away the urge to touch.
"No, Alex!" The eleven year old exclaimed, trying to keep the toddler in his hands steady.
Unbeknownst to the group, all pair of eyes were looking at them, including the king's and queen's (they never left). A soft yet amused smile was on both of their faces, enjoying the interactions of their children and grandchildren.
"It seems that '#1 uncle' is going to be replaced soon." Sophia, their third eldest, walked up to them, a hand on her round stomach.
Rosa chuckled. "Don't tell Lance that."
"Tell me what?" The prince seemed to appear out of nowhere, a bored Lotor trailing behind him.
Lance had tried to avoid him, coming up with the excuse that he had to greet the guests, but people started to talk about the fact that they were clearly avoiding each other. As prince, it was his duty to insure that his people felt safe and if it meant having Lotor by his side till the end of the party then so be it. His mama raised a gentleman and a devoted prince and he was going to show it.
"Oh, nothing." His sister said, waving her hand.
"Oh please, dearest sister, who I love so much," Lance insisted, walking up to Sophia and bowing to her. The woman snorted at the last words. "Do tell what it is you shouldn't tell me." The galran prince rolled his eyes. His betrothed couldn't be more dramatic.
"Well, it's just..." She began, trailing her sentence just to tease her brother. "You might be getting some competition over there." She smirked.
"What?" Lance's eyes widened with horror. Scratch that- yes, he can.
Sophia pointed to the scented of the ballroom, the prince ready to tell off whoever was about to steal his title -one that he had worked very hard to earn and that almost broke his back, mind you- when he stopped to get a clear look at the stranger holding his nephew.
His breath hitched.
Have you ever seen a firefly up close? Have you ever ran to try and catch it so you can look at how it glows? All bright and shiny, lighting up the palm of your hands.
That's how Lance felt right now, like he was looking at a firefly.
The stranger seemed to glow and everything beyond went out of focus. Even the nervous look was radiant. How pretty..
"You better step up your game, Lance." He was brought back to reality by his sister coming close behind him, tapping his shoulder while sporting a smirk. He blinked a few times, tearing his eyes away from the firefly and looking at her, expression almost confused. "Seems like your close to getting replaced." The woman teased, unintentuonally helping to bring Lance back up to speed.
He cleared his throat. "Right." He said, putting his drink down on the nearest throne's arm rest and adjusted his collar as he gained a serious expression to his face. He still has atitle to protect.
He strolled a few feet away from the group, clearing his throat loudly. The stranger had tensed up, turning around to face him. Lance's breath was painfully knocked out of him again.
Well, for one: damn- even prettier up close. And for another: why did his heart begin to ache when he saw those purple eyes? There was just something so familiar about them.
A few seconds of silence passed, both just staring at each other as the music and chatter continued to play in the background. And that's all it was. Background noise. It seemed as though all of their senses had numbed just so their sight wouldn't loose focus - yet they could steal hear the beating of their hearts, Keith more specifically.
The rapid thump-thump-thump was deafening; the tingling in their finger tips was almost painful; their breaths close to nonexistent. Yet Lance felt his mind was buzzing, like when he drank too much, only this time he'd remember everything that happens in detail.
In a split second, all of Keith's senses returned when a small hand placed itself onto the galran's cheek. Turning his head away, he looked at the toddler in his arms, smiling and showing his baby teeth. Small drool was pouring down his chin, Matea quickly wiping it off with a handkerchief she seemed to pull out of no where. That was enough to bring Lance back to reality. He shook his head, letting out a small breath.
"Evening, m'lady." He bowed, his voice strangely calm -with a bit of an edge to it, mind you- even though his insides were screaming.
"Uh.. You too." Keith replied, pitching his voice higher and curtsying slightly.
"Uncle Lance, look!" The five year old girl said, pulling slightly on Keith's dress. "It's so pretty! Can I have one just like this?!" She was practically bouncing.
"You'll have to ask your mother, Theo." He smiled softly at his niece before his gaze returned to the stranger, gaining a sharper look. Keith gulped. "And ask where the lady got her dress from."
"Where'd you get it?!" Theo, apparently was her name, turned so fast around that the one in question was surprised she didn't start flying off.
"Um, a friend gave it to me." He replied unsurely.
"Well, it's really lovely!" The seven year old said.
"Thank you.. uh.. um..." He just remembered that he didn't actually get all of the kids names.
The rest looked at each other with questioning gazes. "Do you not know who we are?" Matea asked, a soft, non judgemental brown raised towards him.
"I live far away, news travels slow. Sometimes I don't even get news." It wasn't a complete lie.
"I am princess Matea of Altea, Lance's sister." The girl introduced herself. Keith's eyes widened.
"Princess Camila of Pejuba, the daughter of queen Natalia and king Samuel! I'm their niece." She pointed to Lance and Matea.
"I'm Theo of Pejuba, her sister." The girl seemed so shy all of a sudden it stunned Keith.
"Prince David of Altea, their brother." He, too, pointed to the soon-to-be king and his sister. "The twins: Calderon and Gea of Altea. That's Alexander of Menica you're holding. He's our nephew." The eleven year old smiled slightly.
Keith felt dizzy. Not only was he surrounded by the whole royal family but he was holding a member too. He suddenly felt very self-conscious of how he was holding baby Alexander. He was afraid to drop him- what if he did- god that would be a bad first impression- what if they send guards at him- Lance would hate his guts forever- Lotor will figure him out- his three odd friends would get the same fate as him- this could go bad in so many ways- what if-
"Could we go back to dancing again?" He was snapped back into reality by Calderon who was tugging gently at his dress.
"Dancing?" Keith and Lance asked at the same time; the former with confusion while the latter with surprise and curiosity.
"Yeah!" The boy smiled brightly. "We were having so much fun before Gea and the others came." He pouted. Keith's heart slightly melted at that.
"Really now?" Lance asked, a brow raised. He looked up from his baby brother to the stranger. "So you must be good, no?"
"My mother taught me." Keith said in a low voice, lowering his head and avoiding eye contact at all cost. He felt embarrassed enough, no need to confirm it in Lance's eyes.
"Then may I?" The prince asked all of a sudden, his hand outstretched. Keith looked at him dumbfounded, Alexander staring with a curious look in his arms. "I want to see so for myself, if you wouldn't mind." His smile was smug, going towards a smirk yet it held a sort of... gentleness in it.
"Promise to dance with me after?" He looked down at Calderon, the boy pulling his best puppy eyes. Well, it seemed fate had already decided for him - he might as well face death (embarrassment more likely) with his head held high.
"Of course." He said, Matea going over to him and taking Alexander from his hands.
"Have fun." She said. "And don't let him intimidate you." She chuckled and left to the side, the others following close behind.
Keith turned back towards the prince, his nerves spiking up again. This would be bad if he found out who he was. It would be ever worse if Lotor did.
"Shall we?" That smug yet soft smile was still placed on Lance's face, his hand waiting.
".. Of course." And slowly, he placed his hand on the other's.
The prince gripped the hand in his tightly, feeling the curves and softness of it. His brows furrowed slightly, though. He also felt callouses. Those were not the hands of someone who looked pampered.
"Something wrong?" He didn't notice he was staring at the joint hands until the stranger spoke up. He lifted his gaze, smiling away his slight confusion and revelation.
"No." And with that, he pulled them closer to the center of the dance floor, the music and chattering dying down.
Keith gulped, stopping to face Lance as they both bowed to each other. This could end really good or really, really bad.
Suddenly the soft music started, snapping him away from his thoughts. He locked his right hand at the wrist with Lance's, his left behind at his side, slightly raised from his dress, and started stepping forward.
"So," Lance began as they stopped and took three steps back, turning the other way with now their left wrists locked. "Have I seen you around?"
"No, my prince." Keith answered, changing their rotation again.
"Really? I can't help feeling as though I've seen you somewhere before." He didn't miss how the stranger's shoulders tensed slightly.
"Like I said, I come from somewhere far so I highly doubt it."
"Of course." Lance nodded, seeing the logic in the sentence, Keith happy that he bought it. "And your name?"
"I'm here only for a few more days sire and I'm sure we'll never see each other again." How the hell he was creating these excuses and lies on the spot Keith will never know.
Lance raised a brow but didn't go on further. Alright. "Well, I can't keep addressing you as 'you' throughout the night." Time to test this stranger. "But, I supposed it would suffice if its just for one night. You wouldn't be the first nor the last of the list."
"Pardon?" What? His gaze turned to the prince's locking eyes with blue.
"Ah, did I say that out loud?" He asked, smiling sheepishly. "It's just that there are so many faces here that it would be hard to remember everyone. And as beautiful as you are, Firefly," -Both compliment and nickname made Keith blush- "You haven't really shown me something to remember you by."
"Am I *boring* you, sire?" He narrowed his eyes slightly.
"No, no, it's just this dancing is." And as if to emphasize his point, he placed a hand on his mouth to cover it whilst 'yawning'. He was already up to his neck in this, why not entertain himself till the end?
"Is that a challenge, sire?" Keith smirked, a spark coming into his eyes. Where'd this side of him come from? Right, Lance always used to provoke him when they were younger. Seems old habits die hard. Even if someone doesn't know that they're actually provoking them.
"And if it is?" The prince asked, smirking himself. It was nice to see that the stranger had a playful spirit in them, a glint in their eye. A familiar glint.
Their left wrists were locked when the music started to change up it's beat slightly. They took the three steps back, this time, Lance stopping while Keith turned and continued, locking their opposite hands and making a quarter of a circle before being pulled to a chest, getting face to face with Lance. The music paused for a second.
"Then I shall have to accept, my prince." And the music began abruptly, the two moving before they even got into their positions.
Perfect sync - is what someone would say when they saw them. Everyone looked along, staring at the flowing dress of the stranger, the fast paced feet of the prince, their blurry faces.
It was as if they were hypnotists, catching and holding all gazes that fell upon them. When was the last time people saw someone dance like this with another? Some never, others a few times.
Rosa has never seen it herself. But she sure as hell felt it. All eyes on them as they danced the night away, lost in the music and steps. In each others eyes, a certain... gleam in them.
Though, it felt strange. Looked strange to her. The way her son was dancing with this mysterious lady. And she with him. That gleam in their eyes seemed sharp, competative, yet... oddly gentle and curious. She felt even more entranced by this display then your typical lovey-dovey dancing.
The sharpness and swiftness of the dancing was not left unnoticed by Lotor either. His eyes were narrowed (seeming to be stuck that way, if you ask me) as he looked on, pointedly staring at the stranger with his fiancé. Who was this girl? Where'd she come from? He needed to separate them. This could end badly if not.
The stares went unnoticed by the couple though as they were far into their own world. It was strange, as this whole night has been to Keith. He almost peed a few minutes ago from fear of talking to Lance again and now he was smiling with a sparkle in his eye, his body moving on autopilot.
It honestly felt amazing - dancing with someone like this. The music was sharp yet precise, loud yet unbothering, in perfect sync with their moves. How grand it felt - it looked - it seemed all of this to be.
Lance had lost himself in the feeling. He was sure this beautiful stranger had too. It also seemed that he couldn't wipe the stupid grin off his face. It truly felt as though they were free in their own little world and all around could see.
Too soon, the music ended, they both stopping close to each other, chests pressed and hands clenched in each others. The clapping from around them brought them back to reality, but they never left each others eyes.
Gently Lance stepped away slightly, their hands still clasped. "So." He said softly, out of breath. "Seems you can dance, Firefly."