Summary: "We have become notorious," Miss Kane said, examining her fingernails.
Fandom: Veronica Mars
Title, Author and URL of original story: Square Dance by ladybug218
"We have become notorious," Miss Kane said, examining her fingernails. The four of them were playing bridge in the parlor. Mister Kane cut his eyes across the table at his sister.
"Well, only in the best way, to be sure," said Lilly (for regardless of the custom, they all called her Lilly, they were such intimate friends: Lilly, Veronica, Duncan, and Logan, but only in the parlor). She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Because we are all so close, you know, and thick as thieves, they say. Full of harmless mischief."
"In the best way? I would almost prefer we were notorious for less respectable reasons." Logan set down a card. "Much more interesting."
"Yes, and then Veronica and I would be sent off to a convent, and you and Duncan to the army, and then who would play cards in the parlor?" Lilly said, her voice low and rich with scorn. "How gothic of you. You're an equal of any Radcliffe. Don't you think so, Veronica?"
Veronica was well-versed in her role as supporter and confidante. "I enjoy this minor fame. It lends us a certain panache, without which we might be as dull as any other young people, and yet shows us to be of good breeding and manners."
Lilly beamed at her, her teeth perfect and even. "Well spoken. You are a clever thing, my dear. Do you think Masters Kane and Echolls will be so reckless always?"
"Mannerly, is it?" Logan's voice was light and dangerous. "What particular etiquette does it require to cheat at bridge?" He reached across and splayed Lilly's hand of cards on the table. She pouted her pretty lips out at him.
"Now you've spoiled it!" she said, but he smiled at her and she tipped her head back and laughed her tinkling laugh.
"I'm notoriously rakish at the card table," Logan said, and Duncan roared with laughter. Veronica tried to hide her giggles: Lilly might be laughing, but she was vexed. Being caught or punished after mischief didn't matter to Lilly, but spoil her plans in media res and she did not forgive. Lilly's manner was capricious, but her memory was long, and Logan would suffer her needling, subtle revenge. He always seemed to suffer gladly. Such was love, Veronica supposed.
If Veronica were to be truthful, she would say that the friendship between the four of them is like a dance: intimate, yes, but scripted. Veronica always agrees with Lilly, because that's her role. The four of them move through life in a series of intricate steps, patterns of privilege with which they are all familiar. The ways in which their lives touch are ordained by society and carefully choreographed. She may one day marry Duncan (he does seem to look at her with a certain affection), but she will never be a lady the way that Lilly will be. The dance will carry them away from each other just as surely as it brings them together.
It is a costume ball, really, all of them playacting. Lilly is their queen. She decides what amusements the day will include, and changes her mind at a whim. For a girl of a good family, she is wild and uninhibited, determined to pursue any entertainment. It was Lilly who hired the carriage to take them to the city, and Lilly who insisted that they attend the army ball with the boys in borrowed uniforms. It was Lilly who stole one of her father's cigars and decided that the four of them had to share it. Afterwards, Veronica was dizzy from the taste of it and the thought of the boys' mouths touching the place her lips had been.
Logan is the court jester. He mocks Lilly, but he is always beside her, whatever wild scheme she dreams up. He may topple her from her pedestal on occasion, but he is also the one to exalt her. Veronica has never seen any man look at a woman the way that Logan looks at Lilly. It gives her a strange feeling, as if she might swoon. Veronica loves the long afternoons when she and Lilly retire to Lilly's room, leaving the boys to smoke or chat or whatever it is that boys-almost-men do when they are alone, and she and Lilly lie on the couches and whisper together. Lilly talks about Logan, the things he says in their stolen moments, and Veronica thinks about the way that Logan looks at Lilly until she has to close her eyes to stop the feeling that she is falling.
Duncan is the royal advisor. He stands beside Lilly on her throne, trying to give good counsel. Lilly ignores him the way she ignores anything she doesn't wish to hear, and goes on her merry way seeking new pleasures. Duncan, dear sensible Duncan, follows along generally, but if Lilly goes too far, he is there to bring her back. He was the one who drove them home from the city, when Lilly had found a bottle of wine somewhere, and spent too much money in the dress shops. He is the one who takes Veronica's hand during each ball, smiling at her over their clasped fingers. Sometimes it is enough to make her weak in the knees. She really is very fond of him: a steady, responsible man, her father says, and nods approvingly. It is difficult to say where any of them would be without Duncan to keep Lilly from leaping at her dreams, and Logan from following her.
As for Veronica, she plays her lady-in-waiting role quite well. She soothes Lilly's wild moods and her quiet ones, bringing her cool drinks when she complains of the heat, admiring the lace on Lilly's new dress, telling her what she wants to hear. Lilly is a dear friend, but a particular one. Veronica learned her lesson very thoroughly when she tried to explain the truth of a situation to Lilly, who thought that life ought to play out differently. Lilly's magnificent joy just as easily becomes magnificent fury, and all her warmth turns to ice. Veronica won't face that again.
As long as they all stay in their roles, the dance works. They are entertained, suitably and ostentatiously. They are all handsome when they dance: all of the light seems to shine on the four of them, and Veronica luxuriates in the mixing of their laughter and the delight of being escorted by two of the most eligible young men in the neighborhood. If someone stumbles and stirs Lilly into a tantrum, the dance will end. Veronica dreams that they will be this way always, taking their careful, beautiful steps, the four of them constant companions, adored throughout the county for their charm and grace. She wants to lie for years yet on the couch next to Lilly, whispering their girlish secrets, touching the veils bought for their weddings, raising their daughters together.
Veronica dances, stepping lightly, and ends with a lovely curtsey. The music plays on.