Cerid broke from his polite conversation with some DETRA officials and wove through the crowd, halting to exchange a few cursory greetings here and there, before approaching Elle. He wore a navy suit, embroidered in silver. Intricate etchings of leaves travelled up his sleeves, so masterfully done that they looked like a seamstress had spent many days labouring over the design. His shoes shone almost as bright as his grin.

She smiled warmly at him, 'you look dashing.' He bowed slightly to her, eyes running over the dress he had provided.

'Thank you, I knew that dress would suit you. You look beautiful.' She felt a blush rise in her cheeks.

Taking in the grand lengths of decorations, she commented, 'your mother truly has outdone herself.'

Cerid looked back at the dais where the regal woman sat. 'She always manages to top the year before.' His eyes flitted to the dress again, and she was about to ask what was wrong when he spoke, 'this dress was one of her old ones.'

'Really?' Gods, she was wearing one of the Imperial Lady's dresses. No wonder it was so well-crafted. He chuckled, 'I'm fairly certain she wore this on her first ball here as well.'

'Are you having fun, Imperial Heir?' She said playfully, sipping from her glass.

'Don't you start—it's Cerid, and you know it. And yes, it's a magical evening thus far.' His eyes glinted with amusement as he oversaw the dancing couples in the centre of the room.

'You'd be careful throwing that word around, especially in Myndor.' Elle whispered, cocking her head. He quirked an eyebrow, 'The Enforcers haven't banned the word.'

'They've banned the existence of sorcery in the realm.'

He grunted in agreement, finishing his glass of bubbles in one long drink. Elle laughed, holding the drink in front of her face. 'What is this stuff?'

'A type of wine harvested from the fields of Orea, imported here. From their red-fruits, I believe. It is nice, isn't it?'

'Very nice.' The warmth of the liquid sliding down her throat and settling in her stomach made her feel lighter already. She could walk on air.

'Am I allowed to steal a dance from you?'

'I'm afraid I have a waiting list,' she teased. 

'Don't worry,' he kissed her hand, 'I'll wait.'

'Oh, come on.' She tugged the flirtatious man onto the outskirts of the dance floor, on the edge of the onlookers. In plain sight of everyone else, she immediately felt the weight of a few pairs of curious eyes land on the pair as they conversed—waiting for the music to pause so they could sweep into the multicoloured crowd.

His hand settled on her waist, taking the first step forward. Suddenly they were away, twirling in sync with the other couples dancing. Her sparkling heels crossed over each other, right on left, faster and faster. Partners switched, and she lifted her wrist up to another man, who smiled at her.

It wasn't long before Cerid and her were dancing once more.

As they waltzed the world melted away like the early spring snowfall. Tilting back her head, Elle smiled. Her brown hair had fallen slightly limp by the end of the night, yet her blue eyes lit with a different kind of fire. The music swept them off their feet; beautiful symphonies.

The assassin hadn't paid much attention to music in her life. But the crashing crescendos and spurring beat seemed impossible to not be a familiar companion, one that had always been waiting. His fingers were soft in hers as they traversed the dance floor, his lead never faltering.

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