A Mouse's Tale

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Chapter 11

Stepping into the Ballroom that evening was like experiencing déjà vu of the other evening. The room shimmered again, lights twinkling around the room, as hundreds of eyes fell on their entrance. Arya once again was beautiful, clad in the deep red dress that formed to her body so perfectly that it sparked a slight flare of jealousy in Mouse.

She could take no credit for how beautiful Arya looked tonight. By the time that Mouse had calmed down and returned to the room with Arya's dinner, Arya had gotten herself all dressed and ready, not needing any help from Mouse. Arya was a do-it-herself kind of woman. She believed that if it were possible to do something without help then she could do it herself, getting dressed for example. If Lord Penton were to ever find out, he would have flipped, which was why Mouse's presence while she was changing was always necessary as to provide the illusion that she was being dressed by someone else and not dressing herself. Arya thought it was a foolish practice, but had so far been unsuccessful in ridding herself of it as Lord Penton would not allow her to pass a petition against it. He claimed that it was a luxury that they deserved and that it provided servants with jobs. Arya had not agreed with his first reason but had to agree that it did provide jobs, so she reluctantly gave up on her protests against it, much to Lord Penton's happiness. Mouse secretly believed that Lord Penton was just too lazy to dress himself and that was why he fought against Arya on the matter.

"May I have this dance?" a young, attractive man asked Arya. Mouse gave her an 'oo he's cute' look, to which Arya just rolled her eyes, though she still accepted his offer. Mouse watched as the young man led Arya out onto the dance floor, other couples quickly forming around them. Arya had insisted that other women attend these events as there was no way that she could entertain every man at the same time, and she would feel awkward being the only couple dancing while all of the other men looked on unhappily.

The music began as the multitude of bodies began swaying and twirling to the light beat. Mouse watched for a little while as Arya switched between partners, each man anxiously yearning for a chance to dance with the Queen, before she finally slipped away out onto the balcony.

The evening's air was crisp and cool, a relaxing contrast to the hot, stuffy Ballroom, and Mouse found herself sighing peacefully as she breathed in its freshness, leaning against the cold railing. She did not know how much time had passed before he found her there, but when she opened her eyes, which she had unknowingly shut at some point, she was surprised to find his blue green eyes staring at her and she couldn't help but smile.

"I was coming to ask you to dance," he explained. "But you looked so peaceful that I couldn't bring myself to disturb you."

"Your company could only ever add to my peacefulness," she smiled as she pushed away from the railing and made her way over to him. "What are you doing here?"

"It's a Suitor's Ball, isn't it?" he smiled back. "It seemed only proper that I attend so that you could dance with your suitor. May I?" He held out his hand to her and she nodded, gently placing her hand in his.

Her heartbeat raced as he took her hand and led her out to the middle of the balcony. Soft music floated out of the open windows and Mouse found herself being pulled closer to him as they began to sway.

Mouse laid her head against his chest as they slowly moved to the music. She could feel his heart beat in her ear and found herself smiling. The sound was so soothing and soon Mouse's eyes slowly began to close as she was lulled by the beating of his heart. His warm embrace comforted her and chased away all the horrors of the day. In his arms she felt safe. In his arms she felt whole.

"Mouse?" his soft voice whispered her name. She looked up at him, at his warm eyes that were looking down on her with love.

"I want to kiss you," he whispered as he slowly brushed a piece of stray hair from her face, his fingers lingering as he cupped her cheek. His touch sent jitters through her body, exciting her. "You have no idea how badly I want to."

I want you to too, Mouse's heart cried. She looked at his soft, tender lips and felt herself yearning for their warm touch against her lips.

"You make it so hard not to," he continued. "You are so beautiful, Mouse." She felt her breath catch in her throat.

"You think I'm beautiful?" her voice was barely audible. "No one has ever thought that I was beautiful... not even me." She started to turn her face away, not wanting to look at him, not wanting him to see the tears in her eyes, ashamed to look at him, but his soft hand against her cheek stopped her.

"I do," he insisted, looking deep into her eyes as he turned them back to him, willing her to believe what he did. "You are the most beautiful woman that I have ever met in my life." Mouse felt her tears trickle into his hand as she nuzzled into it. Vyron wiped the tears from her cheeks, both his hands now cupping her cheeks.

"You are beautiful," he spoke confidently, looking her straight in the eye. "Don't ever forget that."

Never before had Mouse wanted to kiss someone so badly, but she restrained herself from doing so. She wanted to stand by what she had said about taking things slowly and as much as she wanted to, she would not allow herself to kiss him. Instead, she laid her head back down against his chest, snuggling closer to him as she whispered, "I won't." She felt Vyron stroke her hair as he nuzzled his head against hers.

A loud scream from within the Ballroom broke them apart as Mouse quickly dashed inside. Her eyes quickly flashed over the crowd, looking for only one person and starting to panic when she could not find her. She pushed her way through the crowd of people, making her way through to the center of the circle they had formed. When she broke through to the center, she sighed with relief as she finally found Arya.

The Queen was kneeling next to the body of a young man lying on the floor. Mouse quickly went to Arya's side.

"What happened?" she whispered earnestly. "Are you okay?" Arya looked at her with dazed eyes, her hands dropping the man's arm.

"He's dead."

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