The Dance

Granny's was uncharacteristically empty; the only patrons were John, Mary, Emma, Henry, and Sean and Ashley with baby Alexandra. The atmosphere was extremely relaxed; Ruby was spending the time chatting with them, rather than doing much waitressing. Rather than sitting in their habitual booth they were split between sitting at the counter and one of the nearest tables. John and Emma were sitting up at the counter with Sean standing beside them, facing outward to the table where Ashley, Mary and Henry were sitting. Mary was rocking Alexandra in her arms and softly murmuring to the baby. She looked over at the young mother. "She's growing so fast."

"Mmm," Ashley agreed. "I can hardly believe it."

John noticed Sean was leaning over the counter, speaking lowly with Ruby who was nodding.

"Are you ready for her to start crawling?" he asked, humor tingeing his voice.

Ashley blew out a breath. "Honestly, I have this feeling that we're going to go crazy once she does. I just know that she's going to want to get into everything. And it's a little terrifying."

Mary gently rocked the baby. "Likely she will, but she has two wonderful parents and a grandfather who will be there to protect her."

"She does have that," the younger woman agreed.

The soft strains of a song came over the speakers; Ashley went still and cocked her head to listen.

"Excuse me, Mary," Sean said, now standing beside his fiancée, "but could I beg you to watch Alexandra for a few moments while I ask this lovely lady for a dance?"


Mary laughed, nodding. "Of course."

"Thank you," he gave her a gracious bow, and then extended his hand to Ashley. "May I have this dance, my lady?"

Ashley gave a helpless laugh. "Sean, we're in Granny's!"

"And we have plenty of room to dance," he gestured to the open area on the floor.

"Aww…" Emma teased them, smirking as she took a drink of her cocoa.

Ashley rolled her eyes, but placed her hand in Sean's and allowed him to lead her to the open space; he swept her into his arms and they began waltzing around the impromptu dance floor.

John grinned while he watched the couple move around the floor with love sick smiles on their faces. Their form was less than perfect, but the obvious love between the couple made any such mistakes inconsequential. A longing ache entered John's heart; his eyes cut to Mary to find her watching the pair with a look that matched how he felt. She seemed to feel his gaze on her and turned to him; their eyes met and held as they so often did. The air between them hummed; faint color crept into her cheeks but her eyes never wavered from his.

Alexandra began crying as the song came to a close, finally drawing Mary's attention away to her.

Ashley and Sean, having finished their dance, came over. "She's hungry," the mother stated, reaching to take her daughter.

Mary gently handed the baby to the younger woman, the same longing as always flashing through her eyes.

"Emma," Henry's voice drew all of their attention, "can you teach me to dance like that?"

His mother choked on her hot chocolate, and she was immediately shaking her head. "Uh," she began once she could manage, "sorry, kid. I never learned."

"Oh," he looked down.

"Mary knows how though," she quickly added.

Mary cast her roommate a look that clearly said that fact had been a confidence she hadn't intended to be made public.

The boy looked hopefully at his teacher.

"I don't know, Henry," she said.

"Please, Ms. Blanchard?" he begged.

The dark haired woman sighed looking at the pleading expression on the boy's face. "All right," she reluctantly agreed.

They both stood, Henry a little more eagerly than the woman, and headed over to the open area as another song began. She began instructing him in how to bow, as he was insisting on starting with that. Once he performed a satisfactory one she curtseyed back gracefully; she then showed him the proper placement of their hands and arms; once he seemed to have that right she began to slowly lead him through basic steps of the waltz; the music wasn't quite the right beat for it so they were out of time with it. The rest of the group was smiling and chuckling at the adorable sight that they made; when Henry attempted to spin his teacher it became full-blown laughter at the ridiculous image because of the huge discrepancy in height.

John couldn't take his eyes off of Mary; she was amazing as she always was with children, showing the patience of a saint with Henry's fumbling and having to adjust everything she did to accommodate for his height.

"Get over there, Romeo."

He turned, finally tearing his eyes away, to look at Ruby, who was looking at him sardonically. "Excuse me?"

"Get over there and give her a partner she can actually dance with," she said.

"She's teaching Henry."

"And I'm sure he could learn a great deal from a good demonstration," she told him slyly.

He glanced at the teacher-student pair; turned back to the waitress, who raised an eyebrow at him expectantly. Finally he stood, took off his leather jacket, draped it on his seat, and headed over to them, pushing up his sleeves as he went.

"Excuse me," he began politely. They both turned. He looked down at Henry. "Do you mind if I cut in?"

The boy grinned broadly. "Nope!" He scampered off to the side to watch.

"Ms. Blanchard," he held out his hand to her.

She looked a little unsure at first, but then she reached out to take his hand, curtsying while he bowed. "Mr. Doe."

Once they had straightened he spun her smoothly into his arms and proceeded to waltz with her. He truthfully had thought he might make a fool of himself, not knowing if he even knew how to dance, but the instant she placed her hand in his it came to him like breathing. The beat still wasn't quite right for waltzing but they managed to move to the song with ease. During a lull in the music he brought his arm around her waist, she placed hers around his and they slowly turned.

"Do you know swing?" she inquired.

"I didn't even know I knew how to waltz," he admitted.

The beat began to pick up; she bit her lip. "Want to find out?"

He smirked. "I'm game."

The pace of the music continued to pick up until it was faster than it was before. He spun her and soon they were moving faster with more complicated steps and movements that actually matched the tempo better. He wasn't sure how it was he knew how to move, but he went with it. He could tell by how the music was swelling that the end of the song was approaching and a rather sneaky idea popped into his head. He began spinning Mary very quickly continuously.

She laughed. "John, stop! I'm getting dizzy!"

The music abruptly became slower and he stopped spinning her; she was still laughing as she fell against him, clinging to his shoulders. "Let's not spin like that again," she joked.

He chuckled, secretly enjoying having her so close to him.

Once she had regained her bearings she pulled away, still smiling widely; he walked with her back to their friends. She reclaimed her seat, saying that she needed a rest. He took his own seat at the counter.

Emma leaned over to him muttering, "Very nicely played," she teased.

He looked at her keeping his expression as blank as possible. "What do you mean?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "You spin her until she gets so dizzy that she has to hold on to you." She smirked. "Like that was an accident."

He cocked his own eyebrow. "I have no idea what you're talking about." One corner of his lips quirked up the barest amount.

She snorted. "Sure you don't. Sure you don't."

John chuckled, taking a sip of his cocoa. His eyes drifted to one of the windows and a frown slid onto his expression. The mayor was standing outside, watching their group with a dark expression. She noticed that his attention had turned to her and she met his stare for a moment before turning and stalking off.

A noise beside him drew his attention; Emma was staring at the retreating form of the mayor with an expression that likely matched his own. She turned her head to meet his gaze; somehow, in that moment, the alliance they had already forged was further cemented. He might feel protective of her along with the others, but he had realized fairly quickly that she had the same instincts that he did; she was a protector, like he was. And even between the two of them he had a feeling they were going to have their work cut out for them with Madam Mayor.

And there you have it! I hope that it was ok! There's one more chapter after this one before we get into the Christmas chapters. Chapter 10 is already written and I will try to get it beta-ed ASAP. I will be starting to work on the Christmas chapters in the meantime. Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think!

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