Could Have Danced All Night
“Can I get your attention for a moment,” David called out to his guests from the platform where the two thrones stood behind him. He had his arm around his wife and a glass of champagne in his hand. Everybody turned toward him and the chatter died down. “Thank you. I want to say, well, thank you, for one. My son who is now either fast asleep or sitting on the stairs outside eavesdropping,” he smiled as most of the guests laughed. “had a wonderful evening, thanks to all of you. He’s a happy little prince with a lot of friends and Snow and I are glad that so many of you could come tonight. We’re especially grateful that our daughter, Emma, is here tonight with her son, Henry, and... Regina.”
Emma smiled at her dad for including her lover, even if a little awkwardly.
“Now that the kids are in bed, it is time for the ball-part of the ball to begin - the dancing,” David continued and some people clapped their hands. “My wife and I would be happy if you joined us for a waltz.” He bowed to his wife and led her down the stairs toward the dance floor. The small orchestra that had been playing quietly in a corner so far, played up, as Snow White and Prince Charming faced each other, arms around one another and started dancing.
Emma moved quickly through the admiring guests toward Regina and finally stood before her, smiling. “Regina,” she said, bowing.
“Emma,” came the prompt answer accompanied by a bright smile.
“Would you like to dance with me?”
“Nothing I would rather do,” Regina answered and slipped her hand into Emma’s.
People were looking at them, they were staring and some not very friendly, but Emma and Regina ignored everybody around them as they joined Snow and Charming on the dance floor. Other couples did the same, but none seemed quite as remarkable or elegant as the two women who danced in perfect harmony.
“You are very good at this,” Regina said surprised.
Emma grinned. “Who would have thought,” she commented, leading Regina lightly yet purposefully around the floor.
“Someone took dancing lessons,” Regina gave back delightedly. “When did this happen?”
Emma laughed. “When I was around... 13 to 14.”
“Tell me,” Regina asked of her.
“I was with a foster couple. They were former ballroom dancers, if you can believe it, and had a dancing studio in Boston. They taught pairs, naturally, and there were usually more women than men, so they taught me how to lead and lead I did. I also learned the female steps, by the way,” she added.
“How long were you with them?”
“A little less than a year. I liked being with them, actually. They were nice people, strict sometimes but fair. It was my fault they sent me away. I don’t even remember what it was about, I wanted to do something, maybe go out on a Saturday, I don’t know. They wouldn’t let me so I... had a temper tantrum and destroyed all the mirrors in the studio,” Emma confessed to the wide-eyed expression of her lover.
“Mirrors? You destroyed mirrors, of all things?”
“It was a whole wall of them, about 8 to 10.”
“Meaning 70 years of bad luck. I think I’m about to rethink that relationship-thing with you,” Regina said, but there was a teasing note in her voice.
“Are you superstitious?”
“Remember who you’re talking to,” Regina said. “Mirrors are part of my tale.”
“Well, I guess they’re part of mine, too,” Emma grinned. “I went back, years later, to apologize. The studio wasn’t there anymore. My foster dad had died and his wife had left Boston for Florida. I would have liked to talk to her but I didn’t have the money at the time to travel. But I will always be grateful to them because they introduced me to one of my passions - dancing,” Emma ended the story.
“With girls?” Regina asked with a mischievous smirk.
Emma laughed. “Well, as far as dancing was concerned, I liked that, but other things came later.”
Emma whirled them both around, pulling Regina just a little closer. The former queen smiled.
“How did you learn - to dance, that is?” Emma asked after a couple more turns.
The smile vanished from Regina’s lips immediately and her eyes took on a pained expression.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to--”
Regina shook her head. “It was my father.”
Emma understood. “I’m sorry,” she said again.
“He was a very good dancer but my mother didn’t usually dance. I guess you’d have to have a heart to enjoy it. Anyways, I was a little girl and he--”
“Let me guess, you danced on his feet,” Emma interrupted.
Regina smiled. “Yes, I did. And you will probably think this very cliched, but it was sweet. Of course, at some point my mother insisted that I take dancing lessons from someone more professional so she hired someone.”
“A dashing young man with a mustache, maybe?” Emma guessed and they both laughed.
“No,” Regina said.
“Oh, well. A gay man, then?” They giggled.
“No, again. It was actually a young woman, a girl, really.”
Emma opened her mouth to show her surprise.
Regina laughed at the silly expression. “I was fifteen at the time and Lorelai was 17. My mother was drilling me for my first ball and, well, the only young men she allowed around our home were the ones she... employed.”
“She had affairs?”
“I didn’t know it back then, I guess, I didn’t want to know. But yes, my mother always had a thing for strapping, young men like Hook,” she said.
Emma nodded but didn’t let her mind drift off to think about the pirate. She rarely ever did, he was someone she once knew but who didn’t leave a deep imprint on her life - other than her brother being named after him.
“And Lorelai?” Emma asked with a smirk.
“She was lovely. A very elegant dancer, a good teacher, and a friend.” Regina’s voice was dreamy, full of admiration for the young woman. Her eyes shone a little brighter, and her cheeks turned a darker shade.
Emma laughed. “What else besides dancing did she teach you, then?”
Regina practically bubbled over with laughing. They giggled as their first dance came slowly to an end.
“Well, she was prepping me for the ball and she said that a young woman should know how to kiss,” Regina said, a flush reddening her cheeks.
Emma was delighted and as the orchestra played their last chords, she dipped Regina and leaned over her.
“She taught you well,” she told the other woman as they looked deeply into each others eyes.
As Emma pulled her back up, Regina’s hand found its way to her neck where it remained. They didn’t leave the dance floor but swayed detached from the music in the middle of the room. Emma’s hands pulled Regina closer by the waist. She looked down frowning at Regina’s dress. “Hm,” she made as her hands felt the corset. Petticoats kept Regina from her from the waste down.
“Do you still like my dress,” Regina asked, teasing.
“It’s quite lovely, and a lot...cumbersome.”
They laughed together, their faces brushing against each other as if to caress. Their eyes found each other again, gazing longingly. They might have even kissed if there hadn’t been someone clearing their throat next to them. It was Henry.
“Hey,” he said blushing. “Do you mind if I cut in, ma?”
“Actually, I do,” Emma grumbled but let slowly go of Regina.
Regina smiled at her. “Only for a little while,” she promised Emma who bowed and then winked at their son.
“Have fun,” she said as Henry took her place as his mother’s dance partner.
Emma walked off.
“Are you still trying to kill grandma? Because you two almost gave her a heart attack. She didn’t look happy at all,” Henry told Regina.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to let someone who slept with Whale wave moral superiority over me.”
“Okay, I didn’t need to know that,” Henry answered a little disturbed.
“Says the boy who told me it was like riding a bicycle,” Regina teased.
“You’re never gonna let me live that down, will you?”
“Don’t worry, son. I will get over the fact that you’re growing into a man in another decade or two,” she promised.
“By then my feet will probably have stopped aching, too,” she added as Henry stepped onto her toes for the second time already.
Henry moaned an apology.
“Here, look up at me, into my eyes. You lead in this dance. You take one step forward with your right, then you sidestep with your left and pull the right back. The left goes next to the right, and repeat.”
He did as instructed and they muddled through the rest of the dance with her telling him what to do.
“Do you think I should take dancing lessons? I mean that’s something I should be able to do, right?” Henry asked.
“Well, if you want to impress the ladies, that’s never a bad strategy. Especially here. But dancing is not all that formal where we live, so Emma might be able to help you with that.”
“Really?” He seemed as surprised as she herself had been.
“She’s lived with dancers for a while, in a foster home,” she told him the short version.
“I think she mentioned that once,” Henry remembered and smiled.
Regina was sure that there was more to this than her son wanting to learn to dance. She had watched him with the young woman, princess Doria. They seemed to like each other a lot. And dancing was part of the ritual in the Enchanted Forest, part of the fairy tale. Of course, Henry lived in another imaginary realm and the distance that would exist between them couldn’t even be measured in anything as conventional as miles or kilometers when they left the next day.
She would talk to Emma about this, maybe she already knew something Regina didn’t. Or maybe she had a haunch what this was about.