“Stars refused dance,” Beraht said in disgust, collapsing into a heap in the middle of his ballroom.
Of course, this would be easier with music, but hiring musicians was yet one more thing on a humiliatingly long list of things he had no idea how to do but which other nobles seemed to do as naturally as breathing.
Hence his retreating to his estate for a bit. It was much easier to pretend he knew what he was doing when no one was around to bear witness to his mistakes. The others – his friends, he knew he could call them that but still habit persisted – were always willing to help and teach, but he still felt very much a fool most of the time.
Which was the only reason he was in his empty ballroom with no music, attempting to get the hang of a dance Esta had been teaching him because she would make him dance when he returned for the autumn ball and he embarrassed himself enough without tripping over his own feet while dancing with the Princess.
Raking a hand through his hair, gritting his teeth, Beraht forced himself back to his feet and closed his eyes, humming softly to establish his rhythm.
A derisive snort interrupted before he could begin again. “You are never going to get it, Salharan.”
“I don’t recall asking your opinion, Krian,” Beraht snapped, opening his eyes to glare at Dieter. “Nor am I interested in being mocked by a man who spends all his time glaring at the dance floor and deriding those of us who dance.” That Beraht was considered ‘an enthusiastic and skilled dancer’ only because Esta never left him alone was entirely beside the point.
He backed away as Dieter stalked toward him, constantly moving back, sliding always so he wouldn’t get backed against a wall – but then Dieter lunged, catching him up close, grip just short of painful.
Then that hot mouth crashed down on his, and Beraht dug his nails into Dieter’s shoulders, feeling muscle beneath the wool of his jacket. His anger slid away even as he fought to keep it, because if Dieter was anything it was distracting – no matter what he was doing. Beraht moaned low, one hand sliding up to tangle in that thick, dark hair, tugging it hard because he couldn’t not provoke. Fingers dug into his hips hard enough to bruise in retaliation, and then Beraht was swept up, crushed against that chest as his mouth was devoured with renewed fervor.
When the kiss finally broke, it took him a moment to remember how to breathe. “What are you doing here?” he managed at last. “I seem to recall you had better things to do.”
“I finished or delegated,” Dieter replied with a smirk. “Would you prefer I had left you to your sulking?” A hand traced up his spine, then slowly down, marking every bump and curve, and Beraht struggled to remain unaffected but when the caress was repeated he could not repress a shudder.
Dieter chuckled softly and then abruptly released him, leaving Beraht blinking in confusion and feeling somewhat cold. He hadn’t noticed the chill until Dieter had arrived. “So what dance were you bungling, Salharan?”
“The Autumn Breeze, though I can’t see how it would concern you. Go terrorize the villagers like a good beast if you’re not going to finish what you started here.” Beraht added another glare for good measure, and weighed the merits of trying for a solid kick, but rather than rise to the bait, Dieter merely yanked him close again – but not quite as close as before, and after a moment Beraht realized they were in the starting position for the dance. “Since when do you know how to dance?”
Another infuriating smirk. He’s always thought they were just Dieter, but sometimes he wondered if the bastard had used those smirks right from the start just as a way to spark his anger. He gave in to his impulse and kicked Dieter hard.
It earned him nothing more than another smirk. “I’m a master swordsman, Beraht, of course I know how to dance.”
Left unsaid was the fact that among the myriad other things drilled into Dieter by his father, dancing had probably been among them.
“Your problem, Beraht, is that you keep getting ahead of yourself.”
Beraht narrowed his eyes. “How long were you watching me?”
“Long enough,” Dieter responded. “Stop trying to go faster than the dance. Always rushing about, you Salharans.”
“Ah, yes, and patience is your finest quality,” Beraht said, stamping on Dieter’s foot as they began to move, because he knew the first part well enough. He fell reluctantly silent as Dieter simply carried on, somehow needing no music to move effortlessly in time to the music Beraht could hear in his head.
Dieter was, as ever, hot. The man radiated more heat than anyone he’d ever known. Stars refuse the man, he could also dance. Beraht hadn’t even realized they were past the part where he always stumbled, well into the second set.
Stars, the man could dance.
He glared. “Must you be so good at everything?”
Dieter smirked. “You seemed to have no problem with my skills two nights ago. Indeed, you liked them fine only minutes ago.”
Beraht waited until they turned, then kicked him hard, digging his nails into Dieter’s shoulder. “Bastard.”
“Indeed,” Dieter said, and as they completed the second turn, tugged him the slightest bit closer, and suddenly the dance was turned intimate. The height of impropriety, he knew, to dance so close.
He’d never really paid attention. Dancing was something he did because no one but Matti was capable of telling Esta no. He learned what he was told, danced as he was bid, and would rather die a slow and torturous death than ever admit that maybe it wasn’t entirely detestable.
This though…this close he could see the finest sheen of sweat on Dieter’s skin, could smell him. Traveling should have left Dieter smelling all manner of awful, but instead he only made Beraht wish that perhaps they were doing an entirely different kind of dance.
Though, really, they may as well be, because the hand that had rested lightly on his hip was now curved around to rest low on his backside, and there was so little space between them that it would take nothing more than a slight tilt of his head and leaning forward a bit…
Beraht groaned low as Dieter finally kissed him again, flooding with heat, flames earlier stoked burning hotter than ever. He buried his fingers in Dieter’s hair as they gave up any pretense of dancing. He pulled out of the kiss slowly, biting down on Dieter’s lower lip, humming at the way muscles rippled against him in response.
Dieter growled low and pulled him flush against that fine body, a hard heat grinding against his own, and for a moment Beraht felt the dizzy rush that always came with the realization that this wolf was somehow his.
He bit down on Dieter’s throat, lapping at the mark before working his way back to that hot mouth, moaning as he finally took it. Slowly he pulled away, giving Dieter a smirk of his own. “I wonder if Esta knows such interesting ways of dance instruction.”
Fingers dug painfully into his side and back, Dieter snarling low, but his eyes flashed with amusement. “You’re going to pay for that.”
“I’ll just get you back,” Beraht replied, but knew Dieter felt him shiver, and did not protest when Dieter led them from the ballroom.