ACT III: CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

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A/N: The honeymoon is over.


Beauchamp hadn't changed one bit. He wore rimless glasses, a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a silk midnight blue tie loosened around his collar. He even had the same umbrella with a wooden handle dangling off his tanned forearm.

He broke our hug and held my shoulders. "Louis!" His kind eyes shone. "Look at you. You're all grown up and dancing the lead. I'm so proud of you."

Heat rose to my cheeks. Praise from Beauchamp felt like the light of a thousand suns.

"I can't believe you're here, Sir! I had no idea it would be you. I would have come yesterday to give you a proper welcome had I known."

His long elegant hand clasped the back of my neck. "Please, we're colleagues now. Call me Alex."

"Alex," I said, tasting the word on my tongue.

Even though we were colleagues I still felt like that little boy in the audience watching him dance for the first time. I was in awe of him now as I was then. He was everything I wanted to be. It wasn't just his success that I wanted but his demeanor. His humility. His grace. I loved the way he moved in the world, with the unflinching pragmatism of a scientist but devoted to his art like a poet. I had other male role models in my life but Alex was the father of my deepest ambitions.

Dancers crowded around him. Zayn vigorously shook his hand. Eleanor curtseyed. Gigi stood back and haughtily crossed her arms. He had always been dismissive of her talent when she was young, which she resented.

Alex looked past them at Harry, who was leaning against the mirror.

This felt right. Maybe it was the universe bringing the three of us together to heal the past. We were all equals now. We had all achieved what we'd set out to achieve. I didn't feel competition with Harry for Alex's attention, now I wanted to share it. I wanted the three of us to work together and inspire each other.

With his hands behind his back, Alex slowly advanced toward him.

"Hello, Harry."

He didn't hug Harry but leaned over and kissed his cheek.

I was moved by this and so were the other dancers who looked on with reverence. Here were two legends, each one the greatest dancer of his generation, joining forces for the first time in their careers. Alex looked at Harry like a son. It was so clear to me now the paternal love he felt for him. Harry had struggled to find his path as a dancer and Beauchamp did what he did best, he showed him that path and guided him.

"I've missed you."

Harry tucked his hair behind his ears.

"Well? Did you miss me?"

"I've missed you, Alex."

"No, no, no. You, my boy, must call me Sir." He was joking of course but it wasn't always easy to tell. His fine Patrician features shifted subtly, etched with lines from decades of playing a multitude of characters onstage.

At Liam's request, dancers began to head out to the auditorium.

I approached Harry and Alex. "Shall we?"

Alex exchanged looks with Kenneth. "Your master tutor, Joni, I believe, will be working with you and the rest of the cast in the auditorium. I'm working in the studio with Harry today."

He prodded Harry sharply in the back with his umbrella and ordered him to take his place at the barre.

Oh fuck, I thought. Harry was not the boy Alex remembered from RBS. He would rip him apart for that. Kenneth, Liam and I held our breath and waited for the impending bloodbath.

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