A ficlet taking place in the Sorceress Apprentice world. Pre-canon, a young Bryony watches Emeri at the annual Summer Dance and indulges in a foolish fantasy of being his dance partner.
The Summer Dance, held at the solstice, was one of the most important festivals for the village and the ritual fire dance was the highlight of the celebration.
Bryony watched as Emeri held out his hand to his sister, Sabrina, to join him for the dance. They were so elegant and refined. Emeri was rarely the tallest man in any gathering but he had an undeniable presence, and Sabrina, almost as tall as her brother, drew many an admiring glance.
Logically his dance partner had to be Sabrina, another clan member. Traditionally the dancers were of equal status, and intimates of some sort. Emeri had no wife to dance with and there was no-one else present who was even close to his social rank.
Despite this, Bryony chewed at her lower lip as the music began, longing to be the one to dance. To be partnered with the sorcerer himself. It was a foolish fantasy, childish when she was almost a woman now, but she couldn’t help herself from imagining being in Sabrina’s place.
Kerine clapped along with the music and Bryony joined in with her sister, their mother beaming and fanning herself against the heat of the flames. Bryony had once mentioned her attraction to Emeri and her mother had scoffed. Kerine had gently reminded her that whatever all those love stories Bryony read showed, it didn’t mean that life worked that way.
Of course Kerine was right. Besides her lowly status, Bryony was almost ten years younger than Emeri, and while her skill with a needle was something she could be proud of, her education was lacking. What could a non-magical girl offer such a man as the village sorcerer?
After the dance had finished to thunderous applause, Sabrina linked her arm with Emeri’s and they wandered around, talking to the villagers. Bryony curtsied, heart in her mouth, when Sabrina stopped in front of her.
“What a beautiful dress,” Sabrina said, running her gaze over the emerald green silk. Bryony had purchased it cheap because of some damage to the fabric, carefully cutting and stitching a dress from the best of the material and covering the rest of the marks with elegant embroidery, the highlight being details picked out in metallic threads that caught the firelight as she moved.
“Thank you, my lady,” Bryony said, adding, “I made it myself.”
“It is exquisite,” Sabrina said and Emeri gave a smile.
“The stitching is remarkable,” he agreed. “It is truly beautiful.”
They’d moved off then to talk with the blacksmith, little knowing the effect of their words. The warmth in a giddy Bryony’s cheeks was not merely due to her proximity to the fire.
Bryony went to bed that right reliving every moment of the dance, skirting the flames across from her partner, the music’s tempo increasing and her steps more frantic until at the climax of the dance she was in Emeri’s arms and the villagers cheered them on.