Death was a surprisingly wonderful dancer.
He carried a haunting beauty about him as we moved across the floor, an etherealness of presence that went beyond his mantle. To call Death intimidating by his mantle alone did no justice to his grace. At first glance, one wouldn't know he was Death unless they knew what to look for. He must have been an elf in his life. He was lithe, elegant. The ballroom was his domain, the music his very self laid bare on the silence.
But still, he was Death. And I was mortal. A human mortal no less.
I knew the stories of the cut of Death's cloak, the tales of those who fancied themselves clever enough to outpace him. There were even those of a more innocent sort who had simply misstepped and paid the price all the same.
The steps he took through the room were beautiful in their complexity - sweeping farther than any other - but utterly foreign to me. My feet moved of their own accord underneath me, finding familiarity where I could not as I followed the ebb and flow of his leads. Death was subtle, not forceful, taking all my focus to discern his movements.
I don't know how anyone said they flirted with Death; in everything he did and speaking not a word, he was so quiet.
The music reached a crescendo and he sent me out, the scene blurring at the edges.
Unprepared for the spin, I stumbled. The room went silent. I shut my eyes, waiting for the inevitable fall, for the cloak of darkness to envelope me and whisk me away, never to dance again.
Instead, a hand caught my back, righting me, pulling me close.
Everything stopped.
I opened my eyes to find his gaze fixed on me. His eyes were colorless in the way an opal lacks true color but contains all of them. I could no longer see the room around us nor hear the orchestra.
"Are you alright?"
His voice was gentle, soft-spoken, unexpected from a creature of such confidence and power.
All I could do was nod. My heart hammered to music I could no longer hear as he regarded me.
"Do you trust me?" he asked, offering his left hand to me again, arm still at my back. In his movement, I caught a glimpse of the orchestra standing as they had before, frozen mid-measure.
I couldn't explain it. I took his hand, and just like that, we were dancing again, the room restored.
"How long have you been dancing?" I asked, the new rhythm of waltz ticking threes in my head.
"Same as you," he replied. "Eons."
He spoke as if it were the most common knowledge in the world, as if we had danced before and were the only couple privileged to occupy this time and space.
Looking around, I realized we were.
He smiled. "Don't you remember yet?"
He spun me again.
The world blinked around me and I remembered why Death had been familiar.