As the world began to swirl around her, Winna wasn't aware that she was indeed falling towards it until two arms caught her, "Hey, what's your problem?"
Trying to stiffle her internal groan at the last voice she wanted to hear in her weakened state, Winna used the pole of the tent to steady herself, "Nothing, Seto, I'm fine. I just tripped, that's all." The suspicous green eyes searched her face, "You just seem to be doing that a lot lately."
"Doing what?" Winna asked as she brushed her hands down her dress in an attempt to remove the wrinkles it was forming. Seto leaned against the large Eilik tree and watched her incredulousely, "Getting close to passing out whenever you use your affinity. Does it really drain you so much?" Winna's blue eyes turned up to his face which was now much older than before. His characteristic freckles had faded with time, his red hair falling in waves to his shoulders. While it was true that Seto wasn't the worst looking boy she had ever seen, his personality drained any hope of attraction she may have had for him, "Like I said, I'm fine."
Catching himself, Seto shrugged, "Whatever, it's not like I care or anything. It would just be a drag to make Elder Fala worry about anything else when she is already not feeling well as it is." With this, he pushed off the tree and started back towards the celebration as the festival's music danced on the breeze. Winna waited until she was sure he wasn't going to turn before she took a few deep breaths, centering herself back to the ground. It was true that she hadn't been able to use her affinity as much lately without becoming exhausted afterwards. It felt as if the more power she obtained, the more it wore on her when the task was complete.
"Winna! Winna, it's starting!" Mie called, waving her over. Winna took one final breath, calling upon the ground's stability, before she made her way over tothe crowd of people who eagerly awaited the opening words from Elder Fala. Several pairs of eyes turned to the woman who slowly shuffled up to the podium. It had taken quite a bit out of her just to stand for more that a few moments at a time and Winna worried for her balance as she spoke over them all, "Grace the morning, my children."
"Embrace the evening!" They all replied in unison. Mie wormed her way through the crowd to perch upon her friend's arm, sighing in contentment once she had found her place. Elder Fala smiled and continued, "It is with great joy that I am here to see yet another Midnight Ball. This is a celebration of the night and the mystery that surrounds our world. For as much as we rejoice in the light, we must understand the dark for there cannot be one with out the other.To the children, enjoy the treats of the field. To the adults, enjoy the treats of life and to the newcomers.....enjoy the treats of each other's company." Winna smiled and felt a slight blush rise to her cheeks when there was a snicker from the group of boys behind her.
In no time at all, the crowd had dispersed to their private groups; laughing, talking, enjoying the warm summer night as Winna laughed at the shadow puppets Skyner had created for the children's entertainment. Everything was as it should be that night, except something seemed to be missing that Winna couldn't quite put her finger on. It wasn't until she saw a shadow across the way that she realized why her heart was so restless. Kaden leaned against a dark tree, his eyes of liquid gold scanning the festivities with quiet aloofness. Winna noticed his attire that night with approval, he should dress up more often.Tonight, he choseto tie back his raven hair into a loose pony tail,revealing his pale face which seemed to shine in the rising moon light. He wore a jacket of black cotton, opened slightly so that Winna could see the formed muscle which had made him seem more of a man then she remembered.
There was a soft sound of music as Winna continued her visual scan of the boy who had been in her life since early childhood. Kaden never really participated in the village events other than the Harvest, but he was always watching from the side, taking in all the excitment with controlled intrerest. He seemed to be enjoying himself from his quiet perch and it wasn't until those honey-dipped eyes focused on her that Winna felt her heart race. They stared at each other for a moment; the rest of the world quieting into a dull rumble, blue meeting gold in silent conversation. He smiled softly and she returned it with a small grin of her own.
"It is time for the Midnight Waltz!" Rita announced as she pulled Winna from her trance. The startled Whisperer didn't even notice the line of newcomers who had settled on either side, males facing females in primal excitement. Winna took her place beside Mie and was saddened when she peeked back up to the trees to find Kaden disappeared. Had he left before the real event of their young lives? Maybe he wasn't interested in pairing up as much as the rest of them were......
"Good luck, Winna." Her mother whispered from the side as her father wrapped a protective arm around his bride. This was the moment, twenty years ago, that they had fallen in love; on this very dance floor, with this music and the same necklace tied gently around her throat. The music had changed into a soft, almost haunting melody, wrapping around each waiting individual with hypnotizing yearning. At first, both sides stared at one another, neither confidant enough to make a move more than a nervous shuffle. It wasn't until one brave boy who was Winna's age, but not a Whisperer stepped forward and bowed to a waiting young lady two seats down from her.
As if that was the veil lifted from their eyes, more and more couples came together and escaped into their own worlds. Winna watched Skyner emergefrom the crowdas Mie clung desperately to her shoulder. He approached the two girls, one shaking, one smiling softly and bowed gracefully, "Mie, will you dance with me?"
Mie's nails dug into Winna's shoulder a fierce strength unknown to either of them. He held out his hand slowly as if trying to coax her from some long held hiding place while Winna gently pried her fingers away, "Come on Mie, he asked you for a dance." The shy girl mumbled quietly as he smiled, "You are always clinging to Winna, as if she is your strong tree. Maybe it is timefor the baby bird to leave the nest?" She stared at him petrified as he smiled warmly, "Please, let me teach you how to fly." It took another long moment before Mie gently slid her gloved hand into his outstretched fingers and the two of them went to the dance floor.
Winna let out her breath and smiled, "Good girl, Mie." As more and more couples took the night for their own, Winna turned her attention to the moon that hung full in the sky. It's soft, luminous glow cast a magical feeling over the celebration, intertwining with each girl's eyes and every boy's smile. There was going to be romance this night, she could feel it in her heart, the one that felt a particular pull in a direction she wasn't sure of.
"Winna.....may I have this dance?" The voice wrapped around her like silk as she turned to the surprisingly vibrant eyes of Kaden. He gave her the traditional bow and held out his hand, secretly praying she would accept. Winna glanced to the dancing couples and then back to his outstretched hand warily before slipping her own into his grasp, "I would love to dance with you, Kaden."
As the music swelled and dipped with haunting rhythm, Winna felt herself spinning with the excitement of it all. There were traditional steps they had been practicing for years, but to actually perform it with a boy was something she couldn't have imagined. Kaden held up his right hand as she extended her left, joining it in the middle and tapping her foot with the beat. He skillfully turned her around, twisting her just so her dress flared out a bit with the movement. She hadn't been this close to Kaden since that day on the hill when he had defended her a few years ago. How much he had grown since then.
"I'm sure that several people have already told you this. But let me be amongst the many to say that you look beautiful, Winna." Kaden's eyes became soft as he looked her over again. Winna smiled happily, finding her heart feeling lighter than it had in years as Kaden pulled her closer, breaking step with the others. It was then as the full moon cast it's spell over all that had joined together that Winna felt a piece of her become whole in the arms of the man before her. Kaden brushed back a strand of rebellious hair that had escaped from her clip and stroked her face softly.
Without breaking the trance of his eyes, Winna asked, "What are we doing?" It took a moment as Kaden replaced the strand to it's home before his eyes had become less hypnotic and more vunerable, "I don't know, but it feels right, doesn't it?"
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