Imraldera stood against the wall in the merry halls of Rudiobus, feeling more awkward than she ever had. Her eyes trailed over the joyful scene in front of her: the golden haired men and women dancing arm-in-arm with motley animals, the king and queen looking on with smiles on their immortal faces, the snub-nosed beauty glaring down at her suitors distastefully on a dais, and a scarlet-clad, blind poet singing his heart out to the aforementioned beauty.
The crowds laughed at his attempts, and he laughed along with them, in all actuality not caring whether or not Gleamdren was really paying attention. He turned away from her once his song was finished (the song had a simple rhythm and a mocking tone) and made a smooth exit towards Imraldera's isolated wall.
"Enjoying the party, old girl?" He asked, a smug smile on his cheery face.
She glared at him, standing on tiptoe until she could see the organized chaos behind him. "I was, until you blocked my view."
"That's not how you enjoy a party." Eanrin shook his head, crossing his arms with mock disapproval. "You're supposed to dance."
"I don't see you dancing," she pointed out, rolling her dark eyes.
"I was. I believe I danced with every lass out there, excluding two." He grinned now, a Cheshire grin that Imraldera decided was cute in an annoying sort of way. "You, and Gleamdren. I could go ask the beautiful, sweet, charming, splendid Gleamdren for the last dance, I suppose..."
"Then go." Imraldera's face betrayed nothing.
"...But I thought I'd ask you instead, as I greatly prefer your company to hers," and his smile shrank to a fond smirk, causing Imraldera's heart to skip a beat.
"Really now?" She asked, sarcasm lacing each word. "What if I said no?"
"Then I'd ask again," he replied, "but you won't say no. Will you?" Cats can sometimes look extremely pleading, and although Eanrin wore his man form, it changed nothing.
Imraldera's lips twitched, and she almost gave in to the smile that was threatening to tear her face apart. Instead, she scowled but said, "Fine." And then she accepted his proffered hand and allowed him to lead her to the center of the room. All eyes turned their way briefly in wonderment. Eanrin had danced with every lass in the room, to be sure, but he had just remarked that he was saving his last dance for Gleamdren! Why was he dancing with this mortal woman, of all people?
Gleamdren saw them as well, though she pointedly Did Not Look at Eanrin. She glared at Imraldera, biting out softly though her teeth, "That silly mortal."
Queen Bebo watched them with a serene smile on her face, but if one looked past the serenity, they would see a smug sort of satisfaction in her eyes. Her husband, King Iubdan, saw that satisfaction and laughed quietly.
Seemingly oblivious, the two dancers continued their uncomplicated dance. Alright, perhaps only Eanrin was seemingly oblivious; Imraldera flushed and glanced around, embarrassed by their gazes. "Why are they looking at us?" She whispered.
Eanrin shrugged daintily. "How should I know?"
"Stop pretending!" She hissed. "You may not be able to see their glares, but you can feel them."
"I really couldn’t care less," he remarked. He dipped her suddenly, and she gasped, nearly kicking the dancers closest to them.
When she came back up, she snapped, "You're impossible!"
"So I've heard." He tossed his golden hair in an infuriating manner.
The dance ended soon after, and he released her hands, clasping his own behind his back. "Thank you, Imraldera." His tone wasn't sardonic for once, and even Imraldera wasn't immune to his charms.
Begrudgingly, she admitted, "I...enjoyed it."
"Of course you did." His flashy grin returned full force, and he turned away, offering no further thanks.
Imraldera rolled her eyes again and retreated to her wall, becoming a spectator once more. The dancing had finished, and now the Rudiobans were talking and awaiting the imminent feast. It wasn't all that interesting, but Imraldera feigned fascination to distract herself from her boredom. She wished more than anything that she was back in her Library, scribing or reading or just relaxing.
"Then do us all a favor and leave."
Imraldera came out of her thoughts abruptly, her eyes refocusing on the face before her. "Lady Gleamdren," she greeted politely, curtseying.
"Mortal," Gleamdren spat, her nose wrinkling. Her nose was already turned up enough and then some, and this sneer did not improve her features. "Why are you in Rudiobus? You don't exactly belong."
"Eanrin did me a favor recently," Imraldera explained in a level voice, "so I agreed to come with him to your party."
Gleamdren's expression greatly implied how little she cared about Imraldera's reasons, but she feigned sympathy. "I am sorry, indeed. That cat," her voice dripped with hatred, "is a silly beast, and you are a silly, oblivious mortal. I understand his smile might be pretty and his immortality and title might be enticing, but casting a mortal spell over him was low."
"His --what?" Imraldera's brows knit together before understanding dawned on her face. Because she was kind, generally, she refused to laugh or even appear amused. "Ah. I see."
"Stop that," the older maiden snapped, waving a thin, manicured hand. "I abhor high-and-mighty attitudes in mortals. You are nothing. Ean --er, that cat is making a fool out of you."
Imraldera bowed her head, running her tongue over her lips so that she would not smile. "Lady Gleamdren, please accept my sincerest apologies for being a mortal."
"You sound like him," Gleamdren snarled, dropping all pretense of kindness.
Raising her gaze, Imraldera replied softly, "That's a terrifying concept, Lady Gleamdren. We do not need two Eanrins, to be sure."
Gleamdren's hands clenched and unclenched, her glare murderous and full of petty jealousy. "You're insufferable. Mortals don't belong in Rudiobus, so you'd better leave."
"I will keep that in mind," Imraldera answered coolly, gifting her with a slight smile. Gleamdren heaved a long-suffering sigh and swept away rather rudely, her snubbed nose turned up into the air. Imraldera rolled her eyes slightly, almost pitying her. She was startled suddenly at the light chuckles that emanated from behind her. She whirled about, coming face to face with a dazzling grin and golden hair.
"What are you doing?" She nigh shouted, crossing her arms over her chest. Eanrin laughed again, his face alight with merriment.
"That, m'dear, was the best part of this party."
Mock horror struck her features suddenly, and she placed a hand over her heart, her eyes dancing.
"Oh Lume. You are rubbing off on me."
"Good. I like me." He grinned, inclining his head towards her conspiringly. "I like you, too."
Imraldera refused to answer or even to smile, but on the inside, she was beaming.
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