14: False Sense of Peace

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Sophie smiled as the music started and she and Keefe began to dance. This was the third set of her second ball and the thrill of excitement she got the first time still jittered in her veins. Keefe was a good dance partner, just as he was the last time, and together they swept through the ballroom. Sophie and Keefe had spent time practicing in the days leading up to this ball so her skills weren't quite so terrible compared to his, because Keefe made even the most decent dancers look terrible.

The ballroom was fully decked out with blue and lavender flowers hanging from the ceilings alongside glow worms dangling from thin, elegant vines. They munched on the curved leaves happily and let off soft glows of various colors, illuminating the room in a color spectrum of light. The marble floor was smooth under Sophie's silk slippers and she glided across it gracefully, feeling beautiful in the moment and in the rhythm of the music. The long, billowing skirt of her gold gown skimmed the floor gracefully, the tulle shimmering different colors in the light. It was another one of Biana's picks, and it was sleeveless with a piece of shear, sparkling fabric draped around her forearms and flowing with her as she moved. This time, she was wearing pale crystal jewelry. Dangling earrings shaped like tear drops matched the crystals sewn onto the toes of her gold slippers, and beautiful necklace of crystal beads that looked like dew drops elegantly laid across her breast bone. Sophie's hair was pinned up at the nape of her neck in a twisting bun, and a light pink flower from the decorations was tucked in the back, adding a little bit of soft color to the ensamble.

Keefe's vest matched the gold of her dress, but it didn't shimmer, and was instead more metallic. Inside of his lapel was a flower that matched Sophie's, and the kerchief tucked in his pocket had little gold stars embroidered on it in the forms of constellations. His suit was a midnight blue and was an explosion of color against the other men's suits, which tended to stick to the classic black, a simple brown, a dull tan, a stiff white, or a powdery blue. The color of his suit was a topic of gossip, yes, but it looked absolutely electric as he spun on the dance floor.

As they danced, Sophie could feel Dex's eyes on her. He was on duty for the night, standing guard at the edge of the ballroom, watching as aristocrats and Sophie spun in undulating patterns across the floor. He had his full armor on, helmet and everything, but even so, Sophie could swear that she hadn't seen him smile all night.

They hadn't exactly made up, but they weren't exactly fighting. They were just in this constant limbo of disappointment in one another that bottomed out to civil conversations, having the triplets as primary goal, and avoiding being alone together. They'd been doing this for a few days now, and it seemed to be working, but Sophie had trouble ignoring the empty place in her life that Dex used to fill. She didn't like waking up in the mornings to a little kid foot in the middle of her back. She didn't like not talking to Dex at breakfast. She didn't like avoiding his gaze in the hall after they exchanged a brief, polite nod. She didn't like the way he scruitenized her as she walked into Fitz's office. She didn't like how slow dinner would go and how they'd awkwardly climb into separate beds at night. She didn't like the way that judgement would carry on until the next morning when they woke up and started the whole cycle again. However, that didn't mean she was about to back down and let Dex think it was okay to dislike the royals for no good reason when they helped their family when so few people would.

The Vackers were so incredibly good to them, and Sophie didn't understand why Dex couldn't see that. The Vackers didn't cause their parents' death, the Vackers weren't in control of the war, the Vackers weren't in control of their parents' lives. They were just a target for Dex to blame for the mutilation of his family. Sophie understood that people dealt with grief in different ways and waited years for Dex to sort it out, but he never seemed to. He only seemed to hate without reason and let it blind him to the point where even though the Vackers supported the Dizznees in ways that no one else dared to, he could hardly stand the presence of them. The only Dizznee he seemed to tolerate was Biana, who he'd carry a simple, civil conversation with every now and then, which wasn't much, but it was something.

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