So dance we do, under the scornful eye of Isabella and Pearl, which Emma seems to enjoy immensely.
"When we were younger, no one could have guessed that I would be the one to get a man like you." She says as we twirl over the dance floor in a much slower pace than the current song asks for. "While they're absolutely happy for me, they are also absolutely jealous."
"Am I something to be jealous of, then?" I tease, smiling. She rolls her eyes at me, but she, too, smiles.
"Has no one ever taught you it's unbecoming to fish for compliments?"
"I have been taught many things to be unbecoming, but I never cared much for the rules."
She laughs, her head falling back; I seize the opportunity to kiss her neck, which immediately makes her shiver. There's a comfortable buzz in the back of my head from the alcohol I've consumed so far, but I've been making sure I don't go overboard. It's just enough to push any dark thoughts that might come to me to the back of my mind, to explore on a later date.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" I ask softly, as the song changes to one more appropriate for the way we're dancing, bodies pressed together with her arms wrapped loosely around my neck.
"I am." She says, sincerity pouring off the words. "It's wonderful. I worried everyone might look at me with pity, but they all just seem to want me to have a good time... And that is working out great so far."
"I'm glad." I smile. While the party has definitely been keeping me busy, I never really lose sight of Emma. That was always something I took notice of if we went to a party together, but it seems to have intensified after the events of the last months. I don't even try looking for her really, it's more that I instinctively know where she is. And every time I looked over tonight, she's looked genuinely happy and content, something I have not seen from her in a very long time. Not to this extend anyway. "Because that sounds like we might have to start doing this every year..."
She groans through another laugh, this time letting her forehead fall against my chest. "Not this again."
I laugh with her, giving her waist a gentle squeeze. "Come on, Em, can you blame me for trying to make you dress up like this more often? Aside from the good time you're clearly having, you also look absolutely breath taking. I barely believe you are real."
When she looks up again, her cheeks are my absolute favourite shade of deep red. I grin, leaning in for a kiss. She eagerly returns it. She tastes of vodka and ginger ale, and smells like my favourite perfume of hers. Maybe it's the alcohol, or maybe it's the way this party feels like a gateway into a new chapter, but I nearly get carried away in that kiss. Had we not been in public, I might have let myself.
Now, however, I catch myself, and pull back with a kiss to her forehead and a wide grin. "Not only are you real, you are also mine. If you ask me, it's my friends who should be jealous, not yours."
Someone taps my shoulder before she can give me a reply; when I look up, it's Charles standing there, holding out his hand. "I believe you have danced long enough with my sister."
"She came to ask for my hand." I counter with a smirk. "You had better ask her if she's ready to give it up."
Emma seizes him up like that's a very difficult decision to make. "I'll dance with you if you let me pay for the venue."
"Jesus, Emma." Charles laughs, rolling his eyes in the exact same way I just saw Emma do. "Can't even give it a rest at your own party, can you? Dance with me, and I'll consider it."
"If you excuse me... I'm going to remove myself from this situation." I chuckle, pressing another quick kiss to Emma's lips before darting out of the way. After getting myself another drink, a simple whiskey on the rocks, it's not long before I'm caught by Selene.
"It's so good to see you both smiling again." She says, watching Emma and Charles dance the same as I do. "To see you enjoy yourselves and each other again."
"I know." I agree with a smile. "I'm really glad for it, because there have been too many moments I thought we wouldn't make it." Not wanting to dwell on that bitter aftertaste, I quickly change the subject. "Can you put the playlist on hold for me in like a song or two?"
      It's strange being behind a piano again with the intention of actually playing. While I have taken place on the piano stool in our apartment plenty a time, I never actually played more than a few loose notes. But this instrument, battered and old as it is, should be put to good use. Something special, Emma requested, as if that was the clearest instruction she could have given me. Almost subconsciously my fingers form the beginning chords of Clair de Lune. I play them without pressing the keys, without making a sound. Absolutely special, but not the right tone for a party like this. While a song that I very much want to play for Emma, I'd much rather do that in private for just us to enjoy.
But then what? I play some more soundless chords, beginnings of songs I know well, but none of them seem fitting. But then I am reminded of one of the first times Emma stayed over at my place, when I still had my own apartment here that barely belonged to me. She had put on a French playlist, and we danced to my mother's favourite song.
Just then, Selene cuts the music as requested. Upon questioning looks, she gestures to me behind the piano. The small crowd gathers around, with Emma in the front. Her dark eyes sparkle brightly in the dim lightning, much like the stars that are now named after two people very dear to us.
"Something special, and I hope you agree that it actually is that." I announce, just loud enough for her to hear. "Happy birthday, love."
I enjoy the confusion on her face for the first few bars, but the recognition that follows is even better.

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