The Next Day; a beginning

[Editorial note: The Next Day is a working title for
now. I do not plan on publishing it on the Internet at this time,
beyond what is here. I will be starting to work again on
Silicon Cats and new chapters will be posted as they are completed.]

They were dancing again, keeping effortless pace with the music
only the two of them heard. The heavy drapes along the ballroom wall
let in just enough sunlight to show the footprints that quartered and
re-quartered the marble floor, tracks of last night’s spontaneous
celebration. Now that he no longer wore the skin of the Beast, I could
see how matched they looked, his handsome tanned face and orderly
length of straight black hair neatly pulled back by a simple metal
ornament complementing her flawless olive skin and curled blue-black
tresses. Her curls reached nearly to her waist; she had not spent any
time arranging an elaborate coiff and there was no magic to do it for
her this morning. The magic was gone as if it had never been, not a
single glittering trace of it to be seen anywhere in the dusty relic of
the estate house.

Yet I knew the magic was still present. It was not spread like
fog throughout the house and grounds as it had been for the long years,
giving me that instant awareness of all that happened. Instead it
curled tightly into a bright seed, tucked away within my chest. It
lurked there, a dragon in its lair, waiting for the right time to
emerge. I had never felt this before during my training and had no
trouble divining the meaning; it had gone, but it was not yet done with
us. The curse was lifted — Leandro stood proudly as a man among men
once again, no longer the fearsome monster — but the magic was only
biding its time. We three were still tied together, yet she only had
eyes for him. I realized then with dismay that I had been foolish
enough to fall in love with her.