"May I have this dance?" a handsome young man said, offering Maria his hand.
"I... Yes," Maria replied, standing. Her gloved hand took his pale one, and he led her towards the dance floor a few feet away,
Though the secret New York club was largely meant for modern jazz groups, the ghosts of the Glenn Miller Orchestra seemed to be playing tonight. Miller himself started a beat before the entire group began to play a catchy tune Maria recognized as "In the Mood".
"Do you know the Lindy Hop?" the young man asked her.
Maria nodded, and immediately he took her other hand and started to lead. His bright green eyes seemed to be a mix of human and Elvish. She knew them, but couldn't place where she had recognized them from.
They danced for a few minutes, twirling and spinning in rhythm with the distinctive music, seemingly staring into one another's souls. To them, no one else was there; together, yet alone, amidst a crowd of dozens.
Maria felt depressed yet exhilarated when the music ended, and the ghosts made way for a new band of Elves and a Dwarf. She kept looking at the dark-haired young man she had danced with. Had anyone else looked at them, they would be the perfect young couple.
"What's your name?" he asked quietly.
"Maria Allison Demun. And yours?"
"Vilnius Dragonheart," he answered graciously. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Princess."
"And yours, Prince Dragonheart," she replied gleefully. "What would someone like you be doing in a place like this?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he replied. "But you asked first..." He paused for a moment, mulling it over. "Eh, what can I say. The Earthlings have good music. It's nice to have an escape."
"You were born here," she pointed out. "You're just as much an American and Earthling as the locals."
The Prince shook his head. "Nah. Our nation, our peoples remain underground and mostly unknown. The governments leave us alone, we leave them alone. That's how it's always been."
Maria thought back to her lessons and the things she'd learned bout Belecthorians and the Earth. In 1815, a hurricane caused by magic had not only caused a storm that tore New England apart, but saved the Belecthorians by bringing them to Earth. With help from President Madison and a few European monarchs, they were successfully hidden from the rest of the world. Only a handful of people in the world knew about them now, and they had all been forcefully assimilated or kept quiet.
Vilnius interrupted her thoughts. "And you?"
"I..." She trailed off for a moment or two before saying, "I needed a break. I deserve it."
"Most privileged children do," he agreed. "We get tired of being pampered like we can't take care of ourselves."
Maria nodded in agreement. "It's just so... infuriating. Everything's done for us, and we can never be ourselves. I didn't even come alone-- I'm not allowed to, after all."
"I snuck out," Vilnius admitted. "Next time, I recommend you do the same. The tongue-lashing you recieve will be worth it every time."
Maria smiled, inwardly laughing. "I'll try to follow your advice, then. Have a nice night, Your Highness,"
"You, too, Princess."