“Tarantism – The urge to overcome melancholy by dancing,” from this prompt list.
The Fury Plateau was painted orange with the sunset, jagged black shadow teeth cast across it by the falling light. Henry watched them lengthen, biting on the land, chewing up the light.
It was just sundown. There was no fucking reason for him to be so melodramatic about it, he told himself, his internal voice sounding annoyingly like Sam. He should go inside before it got cold. But he didn’t want to.
“Hope you’re not considering jumping.”
Henry wasn’t even surprised to hear Sam. Of course he’d come to find him. Henry had been avoiding him for a while now, which he didn’t normally bother doing. “No. Not unless I can pull you down with me.”
Henry was the one being pulled down and they both knew it.
“What are you doing out here, then?” Sam asked, coming over and joining Henry on the crenelated wall, leaning against it beside him. He sniffed the air, which smelled less like sulphur today than usual.
“Just…” Henry shook his head, a hard habit to break. “Nothing. It doesn’t matter.”
Sam sighed. “We both know you’re going to tell me in the end, Henry. Just spit it out.”
Henry rolled his eyes. Fine. “It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary today.”
“Oh.” That was all Sam said. No assurances that that was stupid, no scoff, no laugh. Just oh.
“They always had a party to celebrate, they’d invite basically everyone, made it a feast for the common people as well. There was a lot of food, and music, and dancing…” Henry trailed off, smiling a little at the memory. “Anyway, it’s stupid.”
“Yeah, it is.” Sam agreed, fiddling with a piece of loose stone between his fingers. “But you’re stupid, so whatever. Cry about it if you want to.”
Henry snorted, giving Sam a suspicious look. He never knew when Sam was playing games with him and when he wasn’t. He tended to assume that Sam was always playing games with him.
Sam was standing there, shoulders slumped a little as he played with the stone chip, resting his weight on the crenelation. “And what’s bothering you today?”
Sam went tense. Sam always went tense when it was time to talk about himself. Henry assumed he probably just wouldn’t answer, or he’d make a snarky comment and call Henry something for asking. But instead he sighed. “What’s it like to have parents who love you?”
That took Henry off guard for a minute, and he watched Sam, trying to figure out where the trap was in there. But he couldn’t find it, so he had no choice but to just answer. “It’s nice,” Henry said. “You always have someone who you can talk to, and who supports you and helps you if you need it. It makes you feel safe.”
Henry watched, watched Sam react to that, watched him slump a bit more, go tense again, watched his face twist into something that might have been sad if Sam had known how to feel anything other than anger. “Stupid…” Sam muttered.
“Yeah,” Henry agreed, still watching Sam. He was a monster, Sam was, and nothing was going to change that. But he was also, Henry had realized in the last few weeks, a sad, lonely boy who really wanted someone to love him.
“Hey,” Henry said, gently putting his hand on Sam’s. Startling Sam was dangerous.
Henry gave a tug, pulled Sam away from the wall. “Dance with me.”
“What?” Sam’s face contorted into a sneer, but Henry wasn’t deterred. He put his arm around Sam’s waist, confident that Sam wouldn’t retaliate. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“Nothing, I just miss dancing at my parents’ parties. Dance with me.” Henry didn’t know why he wanted to dance with Sam. He didn’t know why he wanted to dance at all. But he did. And he put Sam’s arm where it was supposed to go, starting to move.
As Henry had thought, Sam let him “This is stupid,” he grumbled, moving awkwardly after Henry. He obviously didn’t know how to dance.
Their bodies were pressed together, their arms around each other. “Yeah,” Henry agreed. “But so am I. Indulge me for once.”
Sam let out an annoyed breath, but he kept moving, resting his head against Henry’s chest. “Fine. I don’t know what you’re after here. You don’t even like me.”
“No,” Henry agreed. “But you’re the closest thing in the world to someone I do like.”
And it was pathetic, but it was true. Henry didn’t like Sam. But Sam was the only person he had left.
And so they danced, swaying back and forth as the sun went down, swallowing the world in dark.