His was a world of colors and dancing. A world of music and laughter, intense, but blurry enough to be manageable. He lived his nights in parties, his days in sleep. For a while he dreamed, dreamed of days lost, of a girl, of a kiss, of a dance. Slowly those dreams left him. Slowly he forgot his old life. He didn’t need it. He was here. His world was filled with dancing. His world was filled with creatures. Beings of light and happiness, whose laughter was like bubbles and whose voices were like the soft summer wind whispering through the trees. He remembered little of himself. He didn’t need to know it. He was happier now. Or so he thought. Some days he would still dream, dream of days gone by, dream of forgotten promises, dream of his love. They came less and less frequently, leaving his life to the dance. His whole life was the dance. This man was trapped within a fairy circle.
She had been born as Adelaide Carrefour, to a family that was fairly well off, and from the moment she was born, everyone had called her Addie. No one was quite sure why they called her that, as it was a name that typically is given to small, graceful and delicate girls who know how to handle themselves in social situations. Addie was definitely not that. She was the second oldest of seven children, and the only daughter. Sometimes her mother, Fiorentine, wondered how it was that Addie was hers. Fiorentine was a very well bred woman, with white blonde hair, and a gentle face, delicate hands and icy blue eyes. She was a gem of their town, and had turned many heads, and probably broken many hearts in her younger days. Her daughter had her eyes, but so did everyone in The bay city of Skal. Addie had brown hair, that was more fit for the tale of a horse that for the head of a girl. She was also tall, taller than most of her brothers, and more athletic than all of them. While most girls giggled about boys and clothing, Addie kept on her somber expression, and gazed out into the sea, dreaming about the day she could convince the trade board that a woman could trade as well as a man. Well, I could anyway. She thought sharply, as the girls behind her let out another round of twittering giggles. That was her problem. There were idiots everywhere, girls who couldn’t tell longswords from short swords. The bell rang, symbolizing the end of the class break. Addie heaved a sigh, heavy and glum. In two weeks she would be out of this. Out of the school that she had grown up in, learned the skills of life in, been viciously teased in. My god if I was a man she thought for the hundredth time. She could truly be free after graduation, living her life on the open sea with the wind blowing against her face. Instead she would be expected to find a husband, learn to sew, have children. It wasn’t like she was against marriage. There was one man whom she rather fancied actually, though she had never met him. She just knew that marrying would force her to give up her dreams, that were already to impossible to actually believe. Before she went inside, she looked over her shoulder. There he was, as always, standing a little bit away with his easy smile that made her want to smile back. She waved a little bit and went inside. She wouldn’t worry about this yet. There was no reason. After all, tomorrow hasn’t come yet, she thought.
Anders had always noticed her in ways no one else had ever seen her. While most people saw a freakishly tall, temperamental, and perpetually curious female he saw it differently. Anders was about the most friendly man to ever walk on two feet. While most people saw her size, he saw it as strength, while most people saw moods, he saw passion, and while most people fixed their eyes on her scowl, he saw the look in her icy blue eyes, constantly watching the sea, longing for a life that could never be hers. He had always been something of a romantic, and though he was near certain a love between the two of them wouldn’t work, he never stopped dreaming. That was what he was, a dreamer. People accused him of daydreaming, of being aloof, of having his head up in the clouds. He never heard them, he was too busy daydreaming. At that moment he was thinking of Addie. The girl who was strong and passionate, who loved adventure and hated the mundane. His future... Slow down there you’re getting ahead of yourself. He knew he had to talk to her, he just didn’t know how.
The bay city of Skal was very tradition based. They had their festivals each year, they had their ways of doing every single thing. Every year, at the first half moon after the first frost of the water, the people would all gather together and have their traditional dance of love. No one quite knew why they still did it. It was, after all, a dance to the old love goddess, trying to convince her that they were worthy of a mild winter. It never worked. Still, it had been done for generations, and the bay city of Skal was not the type of city to change their old ways. Every man of the city was required to write the name of whichever lady took his fancy, and the council would spend days pairing up the couples, and every year they came upon the same question of what to do with which ever ladies hadn’t been selected. Addie particularly hated this holiday. It was bad enough that they forced her into participating in a sappy and romantic party, but each year she had to be all romantic with which ever hubristic, repugnant, ill-bred or indecorous loser she had been paired with that year. She was quite certain that this year would be exactly the same, and let out a sigh when the pairing announcements came in the mail.
“They’re here” Her mother called excited. Addie didn’t have to ask what they were. The dance of love was all anyone had been talking about for days.
“They come every year,” Addie said tiredly. “Why is it so exciting when they come again? hasn’t it lost it’s excitement?”
“Addie...” Her mother started, shocked, but her oldest brother Christopher intervened.
“It’s a lot more exciting for us romantic folk Addie. Besides, it might be different this year.”
“But it’s never different!” She exclaimed, “I know that you’re somehow eternally optimistic and I love you for that, but there comes a point where we have to accept reality. It will never change, I will always hate this dumb holiday. Don’t start mom. You never have to dance with some jerk who talks the whole time about how buff he is. Things will never change!” She glared at her brother, who was concealing a smile. Typical, she thought fondly. He’s going to make the situation disappear, and I’m going to be in a good mood again. Just typical.
“Things can always change Addie” he said, pushing her letter towards her. She sighed melodramatically and opened it up and read it. And she read it again. She heard her brothers shouting with pleasure, and then one of them, probably Finn, he always got some girl he didn’t really want. He never learned. Some girls weren’t attracted to players. She looked on the back of the paper, looking for something along the lines of ha -ha, just kidding, here’s this loser guy. She looked at the front again. Maybe it was the wrong address. Christopher came up to her.
“So, who’s the lucky guy?” he asked. He asked that every year. It was one of the ways he showed her affection.
“Anders Akeson” she said quietly. “Do the council members like playing jokes on people, or...”
“Anders, Addie that’s great he’s the nicest guy I’ve ever known...and Addie, he talks about you all the time! Unless of course it’s some other girl he’s been courting, but...”
“Wait you know him?” She asked
“Well, yeah, I know all the guys. From, you know, traders basic training.”
“Oh” She said softly. Basic training was a sore subject. The bay city of Skal wasn’t discriminatory, not exactly. She could do basic training if she found someone to give her their spot. So basically, she never had a chance.
“How do you know Anders?” Christopher asked quickly, changing the subject. He never really liked uncomfortable topics
“He is always by the break yard” She said, “He smiles at me”
Christopher laughed, “Well, there’s a lot to smile at. You’re always so cheery.. Should I call you Mrs. Akeson, or will you keep your name.” Inwardly Addie smiled. Outwardly she punched him.
“Just like I said” Christopher said, messing up her hair with the arm she hadn’t just hit. “Cheery”
The night sky was an obsidian pendant, inky black with little silvery sparkles. The main circle was lit with gently lighted lanterns. Soft music played from the center of the circle, getting louder as Anders approached. He took a deep breath, going through his possible greetings in his head. Good day sweet lady, no, too cliche. My dear, you look ravishing. Who am I kidding, she’ll kill me. Oh I give up. He walked slowly into the main circle. It was a magical night. Or, he thought it was, until he saw her face. The things around him became mere distractions, melting into unimportant pools, for nothing was as beautiful as her in that moment. Maybe it’s true, he thought that if you fall in love at the ball of true love it is meant to be.
“Uhh Hi,” he said to her, wow smooth, Mr silver tongue “You’re my partner I think and so... dancing...you know it’s kind of the thing to do here and...” She looked at him wryly her eyebrows creasing on her forehead. My god, I imagine every scenario in the world, and this isn’t any of them, I knew I’d jinx it.
“My brother told me that you were the smoothest man he knew.” She said in a voice that was serious, but quiet. “Do you have a twin brother? You are just about the most awkward person I have ever met.” Anders had nothing to say to that, but he did find a sudden urge to study his nails.
“Well, the weather has been lovely lately” he said lamely. What are you doing? say she looks nice, ask her to dance. This time, Addie gave him a dry smile.
“Oh yes, the first frost of the sea is always so lovely. These clouds, and this wind, puts a smile on everyone’s face.” Anders bit his lip.
“I’m so sorry, this isn’t going well” he said quickly. “I swear I’m not normally this way, but you...” She laughed.
“I am a large bulky girl who is known for scowling. I promise you, this is not the first time this has happened.”
“No, I mean...Your face.” She rolled her eyes, took his hand, and led him to the center of the circle.
“This isn’t getting better. Why don’t we dance and you can discuss some subject that you are knowledgeable about. That way you can appear to have a never ending flow of knowledge and seduce me with your smarts.” The orchestra, no it wasn’t an orchestra so much as a mixture of instruments, had begun a lively dancing tune. Dear god, let this be the beginning of something he thought. I don’t want anyone but her. I just want her to be mine. No, don’t get ahead of yourself Anders.
Theirs was the perfect romance. Normal, moderate, yet filled with kindness. They were together on most days, and were not overly theatrical when parted for a few days. The night of the dance had been normal. They spoke about normal things. Two months later they were stepping out together. They went normal places, on walks, to the sea, out to lunch at utterly unromantic things. Sometimes Anders would try to put on a pseudo-romantic air, only to be teased mercilessly for the next few day by the ever cynical Addie. Addie was a new woman. She became happier, more gentle. She still possessed her robust nature, still was a fierce girl, still looked at the sea with her longing eyes. Now the open sea wasn’t all she longed for. Anders was her desire, her love, her , no not her other half. Her mother had said that to her a few times. She never agreed. She had always been herself. She had just found some new parts, that Anders had helped uncover. After five years of dating, Anders proposed to her. She had never been happier in her whole life. For that moment, her dream, which had never been possible, she knew that now, had disappeared. All she wanted was a life with Anders. She was the happiest woman in the world.
And then, her wedding day came, which should have been a day of joy and love. The bay city of Skal was a city that was very tradition based. They had their festivals each year, and they had their ways of doing every single thing. On the eve of the wedding it was traditional for the man to go into the woods to find himself. To prove his love to his wife. No one was quite sure why they did it. It never proved anything. All it did was bring sadness, and broken hearts. Anders went into the woods the night before. In the morning Addie went to the wedding spot. She stood in her white, waiting for him to come. He never did. She waited for hours, her smile growing dimmer the whole time. At nightfall she gave up. She broke into sobs, and ran to her home. Her brother followed her, and found her in her bedroom, her white dress on the floor, her head in her pillow, her body shaking.
“He’s not gone” She gasped out as Christopher held her hand, “He didn’t leave me, He...” At this she broke into great racking sobs.
“Addie, I’m sorry, but...”
“No, shut up, you’re the optimist. Tell me it will be okay, please!” She had sat up at this, her blankets had fallen down revealing her tee shirt, stained with tears. Christopher tried to smile, but it failed miserably. They sat together on her bed, embracing each other, and saying nothing. She stayed in her room for days, not talking to anyone but her brother. One day Christopher went in to check on her, and found that she was gone, with no trace that she had been there but a note, lying in the middle of her tear stained pillow. Dear Christopher, it read, I’m right, he didn’t leave me, he wouldn’t. Don’t worry about me, I love you. That was the end of the note. Slowly, the town forgot about that day. This happened often enough for it to be a tragic, but regular occasion. She never returned, but the ladies who went looking for their loves never did. In about a month, no one even really remembered the big, angry Carrefour girl. None but Christopher. He had never loved anyone quite so much as he loved his little sister. I will find her, he thought every night. I’m her big brother, that’s what big brothers do. She’s not dead, she’s not lost forever. She’s out there in the woods. The second it gets warm I will go to the woods, and I will find her. I have to.
Hers was a world of colors. A world of beauty. Of lights, and music, that were intense, but had an element of unrealness. Her night was the dance, the laughter, the love. Her days were the sleep. She did not know how long she had been there. It could have been hours, it could have been days. She didn’t care. She was happier, or so she thought. She still dreamed, dreamed of a boy, large and blonde, who smiled constantly and laughed with joy. Though one day the dreams left. She did not care. She did not need that life. She was happier here. Here with the beings of light, the beings of joy the beings of laughter. Or so she thought. Some of the beings were not like the others. One of them was a plain man, devoid of anything extraordinary. When she saw him, her dreams came back to her, and she felt... she didn’t know. She longed for a life, and ached at the same time. Still it did not matter. Her life was the dance, her joy the music.She was trapped in a fairy circle.