Just when I was thinking I could have escaped outside for a while, I start, to my immense horror, to dance! What in the freaking fairies is going on? It seems everyone is dancing, whether to their will or not, for I see Jestine boogying down with a vampire (pretty cute too), and Aunt Murg is dancing too, with a boogeyman. She never dances, so I'm pretty sure it's a spell.

"Sorry. Any idea what's going on?"

I whirl around, to a very tall someone. It seems everyone needs a partner, and mine has arrived. I look up and, wow, suddenly I can't speak. Intense dark eyes, black hair so thick I can hardly fight the instinct to run my hands through it, and a slight smile that makes me think this dancing amuses him.

"Um."

"No, I guess not."

"Oh, I'm obviously behind all this, can't you see my devious plans coming to life? Everyone will dance until they faint, and then I'll make off with all the cherry pie, run to the Werewolf Swamp and split my booty for a chance to join their howling choir. Then we'll all run naked around the wood howling and chasing furry little squirrels until we eat too much pie…" I tend to talk a little too much when I get nervous. I'm nervous.

We're spinning around the room, his gaze is silently laughing. At least he hasn't accused me of being a pixie. Yet.

"How long do dancing spells usually last? Do you know?"

"Oh, obviously we're prepared for dancing emergencies at school. That's all we do. Now, girls and boys, if someone casts an eternal dancing spell, what's the solution?" I say the last part in a gushing, fluttery, way too happy tone. He starts laughing, and I feel my cheeks get really, really hot. Looks great with my hair. Yeah, dream on.

Then, as we move into the other room, we suddenly come to a halt.

"Well, this is awkward." I can't believe I said that out loud.

"Then, milady, I guess this is where I take leave of you." He bows, and just before he leaves me, he leans down and whispers, "and don't let anyone kick you out, pixy-girl."

I think I may have to kill myself.

Then, the head of the ball committee comes in, and I see that's why we al stopped.

"Silence, silence please!" cries the head of the committee. "Since the bursting of the wall and the dancing spell gave us soooo much excitement, I have decided to give the title of witchiest witch to Muriel the wizened, even though the contest was officially canceled!"

Oh, so witches were behind this.

"What's that, eh?" asks an old hag, wearing a hideous neon dress, I might add.

"I SAID you have won the witchiest with contest."

The old witches' eyes glitter with joy as she lowers herself upon the plush scarlet pillows atop the magnificently engraved throne that the witchiest witch always sits on. The happiness shining from her face made you forget the wrinkles and warts for a minute.

"Oh yes, and one thing," the head of the committee says slyly, "this year there is a surprise for the witchiest witch winner. They receive one item the collective body wishes to bestow upon them."

And with those words, the head of the committee plops a hearing aid onto the witches' lap. When she puts it in, everyone cheers! Her hearing can't be that bad, can it?

Weird choice of gift. At least someone is happy. I just want to go home! I'd better find Grandam and Aunt, plus Jestine. They might be in trouble all ready, especially Grandam. Who knows the consequences of that dancing spell?

I really have to do everything.

). 0. (

"Muriel! Look, Madame Sierepont's here. And she's brought her daughter-in-law and her grandson!"

"Mary Agnes, don't you think a snake would be stepped on?"

"Do you have your hearing aid in?"

Muriel put in her new device with a grin. Mary Agnes repeated her observation.

"Zach's here? Hm, I wonder how the old witch got him here."

"Don't know. Wonder why she came. Usually too good for these types of functions, right?

"I wonder." That was all Muriel said, but she had a strange glint in her eye.

Mary Agnes would have worried, but just then, a cute guy waved. She went to get some punch.

). 0. (

Zacharius saw his grandmother's hat before she saw him, and he ducked before she caught his eye. Quickly swerving the other direction, he walked toward the garden doors, thinking about a pair of amazing electric blue eyes. He had never since eyes that intense before, that sincere. And the comments that came with them. He wondered how the pixy had gotten past security.

The dancing spell, crazy as it was, had brought him relief at least for a minute. He knew why he was here. His grandmother wanted him to find a wife. She wanted the line to continue. And she knew he knew it, hence the smug glances at him throughout the dancing.

Without realizing, he was walking around the dance floor again, looking for a certain pair of eyes. They had sizzled through him, electric and hot.

But he didn't find them. Instead, he found another someone coming up with a coy expression, and he felt it time to take his leave. Avoiding his grandmother at all costs, he changed course again and headed for the coatroom. An excellent place to hide.

). 0. (

Madame Sierepont surveyed the ballroom around her with a mighty sniff. It was so coarse, so undignified. She had managed to persuade the head to give her a list of guests, so she had crossed off all the non-potentials. There were only two options left. She glanced down at her list; the criteria had been raw power of course.

The first was Illyen, and the second was Roaveanoke. Madame thought she remembered something odd about the Roaveanoke girl, but she couldn't recall what, and they certainly had the most power. In certain circles, it was whispered they were the most powerful witching family in the country. But never aloud, for their family was a little peculiar, and no one wanted to admit lunatics were so powerful.

Madame searched the room for one of them, and one of them she found. Without giving her daughter in law a second glance, she strode over to the oldest Roavenoke. What was her name again? Oh, yes, Morgana.

"Excuse me. Madame Roaveanoke?"

The woman turned around and Madame had to stifle a horrified gasp. The woman looked ridiculous. Her head looked like an animal's hive.

"Oh, what is it? I'm just about to get my groove thang on."

Madame was almost about to turn around, but the thought of the extinction of her line made her stay where she was.

"Yes," she said, stretching her mouth politely, "I'd like to talk to you about your granddaughter, if that would be possible?"

"Oh, yes. You are?"

"Madame Sierepont." Madame almost smiled then as she saw the woman's expression shift slightly. It seemed she knew who the Sierepont's were as well.

"Yes, yes. There she is, over there."

Madame looked to see a girl of tallish nature, with shining black hair and a black witches dress. She certainly looked suitable, none of their neighbors and guests would laugh at that girl, and with the family's power, a match would be most desirable.

Madame wanted to go ask about her schooling levels, but it looked as if she were talking to a renegade pixy, and Madame didn't wish to go any nearer to one of those…fairies. They had unexpected magical fits, extremely strong in magic, but sometimes a little eccentric. She was glad she never had to deal with a pixy, and never would.

"Fine. Shall we go into the other room?"

Madame took the woman's arm and lead her away, whispering a mantra to hold herself firm while the deal was struck.

Powerful, dignified witch. Family line. Powerful, dignified…family…dignified, dignified, powerful.