A Dark Dance

Francina wants to be a ballerina. Her dream comes true when she is accepted into New York Ballet Academy.

But what will happen when Francina meets strange and mysterious Ty, who is 19? Will her dreams turn to nightmares?


Based on/Inspired by 'Dance of Shadows' by Yelena Black

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7. Christmas

Six days before Christmas, I went shopping with mum, Madeline and Ollie to get some things for Christmas, including presents, and the shops were full of people. It felt like you couldn't breathe at times, and I kept a tight hold on Maddie's wrist. Ollie was in the pushchair, which was kind of a nightmare, with people pushing and shoving and narrow gaps between shop stands.

 

Four days before Christmas, I went to Ally's for her family's annual Christmas party. It was really good, and there were lots of people there, including people from her mum's and dad's work and all the friends of Ally and her adopted brothers and sisters. It was quite full. Gabe also came, because Ally's family know his, and asked me to pass on his invite.

 

I gave all my friends their Christmas presents - Willow: A make-up case she's been wanting for ages, Ally: A personalised hand towel for gymnastics, Paige: A french manicure kit, and Laura: A 'GNO' (Girl's Night Out) t-shirt - and got quite a few in return. I decided to open them on Christmas Day. I'd see Gabe closer to the day, so I didn't give him his yet.

 

On Christmas Eve, there was a party at my ballet studio, which me and Gabe went to, and performed a dance we'd been practising together. It was part of a mini talent show going on, which we came second in, behind a boy and girl playing the piano and singing a duet. A boy came third, playing the guitar. When we left the party, we promised we'd see each other tomorrow, to wish a Merry Christmas and swap presents. I went to sleep feeling happy and excited for the day tomorrow.

 

Early the next morning, I was woken up by a screaming Maddie and Ollie, opening the presents Santa left for them and bouncing on my bed. Since mine was the biggest room in the house. The 'Santa presents' were always in my room, so the family was all together when they were opened. I opened my eyes, and realised I could only see a sort of off-white light in front of me. Then, as I came around, I realised it was wrapping paper on my face. I dug my way out from under the mound of paper on me, and took in the scene around me. As always on Christmas morning, my room was a complete and utter mess, and there were vaguely four piles of presents laid in different corners of my room. When I say vaguely, I mean two piles of (nearly all) wrapped presents at the back of my room, and then one big mess of wrapping paper and a mixture of toddler toys and young-ish girl toys towards the front. Well, they were in four piles originally.

 

I went to grab my pile from the corner of the room, dancing over the mess that could have been just paper, or could have been small, pointy toys like Lego covered in paper, and leaped back over to my bed, nearly hitting a crawling Ollie on my way. By this time, mum had started clearing away all the paper, and was on her way to getting her own presents. I got a new notebook and set of pens for classes, some new ribbons to replace the old-ish fraying ones on my pointes at the moment, a new leotard, and some other usual stuff, like a calendar, chocolate, sweets and an orange. We always get an orange. I think it's because poor people used to get an orange as a present at Christmas because it was really expensive and it was the only time they could afford it.

 

Before breakfast I slipped round to Gabe's to post my Christmas present through his door. He came round later that afternoon to give me my present. He was holding the unopened envelope, and came to ask about it. I told him that he wasn't to open it until 7 o'clock tht night, just like it said on the back. I opened his in front of him so he could see my reaction. And it was a good one. He'd returned the favour and given me a necklace. It had a ballerina pendant in the middle and then two hearts either side, one had a 'G' in it, and one had an 'F'. They were separated with a few tiny spacers, and held in place with knots.

"I made it myself. In a workshop at school."

"Wow," I breathed. It was beautiful.

"It's made with 925 silver and real crystals."

"Ooh, listen at you Mister Fancy-Pants," I teased, glad for a diversion from the beautiful piece of jewellery. He smiled at me, and I laughed. It felt so good to be carefree. "Remember, 7 o'clock. No earlier."

"Okay. Merry Christmas!" Before he left, Gabe pretended to be Santa for Ollie and Maddie, swinging them round and listening to their thanks for the presents. They knew it was Gabe, but they didn't care.

 

The only cloud hanging over my happy day was my mother. She didn't seem as happy as usual, and I couldn't help thinking back to the time when she'd almost torn away my dream. It wasn't a nice thought. As Gabe was leaving, he gave me a look to say, talk later. He'd noticed mum too.

 

*****

 

Later that evening, at 6:45pm, I started getting ready to go out. I put on my leotard and tights, pulled my hair back into a tight bun, and flattened the wisps down with some water and a spritz of hairspray. I pulled on leg warmers and packed my pointe shoes in a bag. I grabbed my thick winter coat, put it on and grabbed my phone, before calling out a quick goodbye and walking out of the door into the cold.

 

I hurried along the pavement with my hands stuffed deep into my pockets. When I got close to Gabe's house I crouched down and crept past, hoping he didn't look out of his bedroom window. He'd have read it now. I went back over the words I'd put in my head:

Merry Christmas, Gabe!

Be at the old oak at the bottom of your road for 7:30pm.

You need to be dressed in ballet clothes, and remember to bring your shoes.

See you soon,

Francina xxx

It was now 7:10, so I had quite a while to go. When I reached my destination, I sighed with relief that nothing had been changed or blown away since that afternoon, when I'd set up our dance space. It was the old amphitheatre, and was the perfect place for dancing. When I had been earlier to put up decorations and clean the floor, I thought again that it was the perfect place because it was sheltered from the wind and cold. After sweeping the floor one last time, I left the brush and my shoes on one of the more hidden seats and left the twinkling fairy lights behind as I walked to Gabe's destination.

 

When he reached the tree, at around this time, he would find another note telling him to go to our meeting point. It would tell him to go to the second bench in the park round the corner, where I would be waiting. I got there with about 4 minutes to spare. He arrived looking rather confused and a bit cold. I jumped up, glad to have a reason to move from the freezing cold bench.

"Hey. Is this it? A cold treasure hunt to meet you here?" He sounded like he was hiding disappointment.

"No. Follow me." I led him through the trees. When we had nearly reached the end of the trees, I stopped and pulled out a blindfold from my bag. "Do you trust me?" I asked, knowing that he did, but the wary look on his face made me check.

"Of course." He smiled. And with that I felt a whole lot better, and pulled it over his eyes. I led him onto the stage, where we were sheltered from the rain and sat him on a seat. I told him not to take the blindfold off. I rummaged through his dance bag until I found his shoes, placed them in his hands, and told him to put them on. I then went to grab my pointes and had them on and laced up soon after he had finished both putting his on, and succeeding in locating his bag to put his outdoor shoes in.

 

I told him to stay where he was and went to get the strange, tormentous music ready. It was from our favourite movie and book of all time: A Dance of Shadows, by Yelena Black. We had learnt a dance routine mirroring the main one from the book, and knew it off by heart. I led him to the centre of the room, pulled off his blindfold, and pressed play on the tiny remote, before sending it out of the way, sliding across the floor. He recognised it straight away, as soon as I started whispering the words...

 

"Love." I pressed my leg against his and slid my toe across the floor. "I need you. I want you. I've always wanted you. But I can't have you." He was listening, spellbound. I arched my back, pleading with him. "Fate is against us. Still, I offer myself to you. I seduce you." My arms fluttered before me, and slowly, I arched my body into an arabesque, giving myself to him. "You try to resist me, but you cannot." I felt weak as his hands roamed up my body, and leaned into him. I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of him. "But our love is violent. It cannot last. You cast me off." Gabe thrust me away, to the change of the beat, and, spotting him, I spun across the floor. "I don't understand. I beg you. I ask you why you can't love me." I threw myself down before him. My body jerked left, then right, in a tortured romance, the moves almost natural. I barely noticed when he fell away from me, and stood watching as I began to pick up the pace, dancing alone in the centre. As I moved across the cold floor, I began to feel warm, then hot in the chilly night air, sweat beading on my back until my leotard was matted to my skin. I realised it wasn't just heat, it was desire. But desire for what? I spotted once, twice, barely able to see Gabe as I whipped past. The fairy lights were mesmerising, drawing patterns in front of my eyes. I kept dancing, and saw Gabe watching me, gazing in awe.

"You are beautiful," he murmured, his lips moving almost silently, so I could have imagined it, "So beautiful." All I could see was him. I started to boil, desire coursing through my body. I lost myself.

 

I glided across the floor towards him, and twined my fingers into his hair. "Why can't you love me?" I whispered, before pulling his lips onto mine. When he broke free he rested his forehead against mine.

"Love." he repeated my words, the ones we both knew off by heart.

"I need you. I want you. I've always wanted you." The voice couldn't be recognised as mine. It was low, throaty. Full of desire.

"But you can't have me. And I want you." he stared into my eyes. His voice was deep. A growl. "But fate is against us." And with that he smashed his lips to mine again.

 

The spell broke and we stumbled back, like puppets with their strings cut.

"Thank you," he breathed.

 

*******

A/N: Just to say, the last part about the dance, after the music started is pretty much copied from the book (A Dance of Shadows). The idea was to create an atmosphere that both the characters know, except their own experience - I'm not copying the book and calling it my work. It is not from me, it's nearly all exactly the same as the book, except with the setting, names, pronouns, etc. changed.

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