The Great Hall was decked out as beautifully as I had ever seen it. From my vantage point in one of the private balconies I watched over the hundreds of dancers in their New Years’ finery. Full skirts in every color of the rainbow whirled around as the ladies wove around and about each other. Their male counterparts were outfitted in every style of fashionable evening dress you could imagine as they danced the night away. Black jackets with tails, brocade waistcoats, each more intricate than the last, pristine white gloves, fitted trousers and polished boots, all glittering with falls of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds.
From high above the crowds they appeared as dolls dancing for my amusement, the sound of their laughter drifting up like it came from a different place altogether. The light from a thousand candles in crystal chandeliers caused everything to glitter and glow. A world apart, an imagining from a story book.
It was stunning.
I was hiding out in my balcony. I could not bear the thought of watching Geraint kissing someone else after the midnight dance. Legend, and the mother’s of every marriageable young person, said that whoever you kiss at the New Years’ Ball of your eighteenth year will be the person you will wed. Legend can go to hell but kissing someone at that time was paramount to a proposal.
And Ger had been mooning about for weeks claiming he had someone to kiss this year. His eighteenth year. My heart already felt as broken as I could handle. A first hand view of whoever Ger was kissing would be too much.
I slumped to the floor, leaning my back against the balcony wall as the bells rang calling everyone to the dance floor for the final dance of the year. The orchestra started out slow and melodious, the sound of strings wafting and weaving its way around the dancers. As midnight grew closer, horns joined in and the tempo increased and wind instruments kept pace behind it all. Just before midnight, in the last minutes of the dance the drums would pound their way into the melody until it ended on high, raucous and joyful note, perfect for welcoming in a brand new year.
I sat there listening, not able to keep the image of Ger dancing with someone else, wrapping his arms around someone else’s shoulders, leaning his head into someone else’s hair, grasping someone else’s hands, and worst of all his lips caressing someone else’s lips.
Then, just as the drums sounded from below, the door of my balcony sanctuary burst open. Ger glanced quickly around, almost turned to leave and seemed to catch sight me at the last moment. I stood up and turned to face him.
“What are you doing up here, Las?”
“I could ask you the same thing. What about your midnight kiss?” No matter how I tried I couldn’t keep the bitter heart break out of my voice.
“Well, he didn’t have to good sense to be where I could find him to ask him to dance so I’ve been looking for him all night.”
I deflated even more at that and turned my head away so he couldn’t see the pain in my eyes. Even if I couldn’t be happy I wanted him to be happy. I just wish he could be happy with me.
“I’m sorry you won’t be able to kiss who you wanted at midnight, Ger.” I said with as much sincerity as I could muster.
He stepped closer to me and grabbed my chin, turning me so that I was forced to face him, to look him in the eyes. My heart was beating in time with music from below and my palms began to sweat. His eyes bore into mine as the music reached its final crescendo.
In the brief moment of silence following the end of the music and signalling the beginning of the New Year, he whispered, “Yes, I will.”
And he kissed me.
Happy New Year to all! I hope you spend it with good friends, happy family and true love.