ACT I: CHAPTER THREE

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A/N: Enter Harold.


LOUIS / PRESENT

Dinner for the patrons would be held in the Crush Room, one of the grandest rooms in the Opera House. The crystal chandeliers and velvety reds and gold of the auditorium carried through in its rich furnishings. Oil paintings that had been in place since the 17th century adorned the walls, bolstering the room's historical significance. I couldn't help but walk a little taller, a little prouder, when I was in the Crush Room, reminded of my own place in the Royal Ballet's esteemed history.

Zayn rushed to my side, tie in-hand. "Sorry I'm late. Delay on the tube," he said, panting.

"You're fine." I popped his shirt collar and took the tie from his hand. I draped it around his neck and did it up for him.

The dinner was for the male dancers in the company to schmooze with female patrons--sort of a Sadie Hawkins dance for the upper crust. But it made most of us feel like gigolos as we were plied with liquor and subject to the women's brazen advances.

It was black tie and we looked identical. The men in the company all got their suits from Gieves & Hawkes, the oldest tailor in London. It was tradition. Some didn't understand the need for uniformity when we weren't performing but I did. It strengthened our camaraderie and made us feel like we were part of something bigger than ourselves.

Niall Horan, the ballet's music director strolled in, round black glasses matching his black suit.

"Horan!" Zayn and I waved him over.

"Looking dapper, boys," he said brightly.

Like most music directors, Niall was a conductor by profession. He had been a guest conductor with the Leipzig Ballet before he was offered the appointment of music director at the Royal Ballet in London. He and I became fast friends, which was surprising because most music directors were twats who thought that the music was more important than people dancing to it. Niall was different. His mum was a ballerina and he had been a ballet pianist since grade school, so he had a lot of respect for dancers. He was also a football fanatic and we had Man U season tickets.

We looked over our shoulders as wealthy women began to pour in through the grand oak doors.

Niall grinned. "They look thirsty."

"If we're going down we're taking you with us," I said.

"They're not here for me," he laughed. "They're after fit ballet boys."

I ran a hand through Niall's quiff. "They like these blonde locks as much as they like my thighs."

"Yeah," Zayn agreed, worriedly eyeing the women. "Take one for the team, Horan."

Zayn was a favorite among the female patrons. His Mercutio in last season's production of Romeo and Juliet drove them wild. It might have had something to do with the choreographer's decision to have him perform his solo shirtless.

"Doesn't Gigi mind you being pimped out like this?" Niall asked Zayn.

"Are you kidding? She pushed me out the door and told me to shake my moneymaker."

That sounded like Gigi.

I was nervous about being pawed all night, but not as nervous as I was about seeing Harry. Where was he anyway? I'd stayed up until three in the morning the night before watching footage of his performances with the Bolshoi. I thought if I stared hard enough I'd find the fault lines in his technique and expose him in rehearsal. But if there were mistakes I was blind to them. Harry was such an emotional dancer it was hard to focus on anything but what he was feeling. As I watched his solo in Giselle I lost myself and started crying! Actual fucking tears! I slammed my laptop shut, furious with myself for being duped by Harry's cheap trickery.

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