210 The Dance of Fate*
When Rassa had trained, both with his father and with Victor in the memories, he had found that dancing was similar to the rhythm of battle. Like battle, his steps had to be precise. His movements smooth. The only difference that Rassa had been able to ascertain between dancing and battle, was that only one required one's partner to bleed.
Now, as he danced step after step with the partner opposite then spun behind her then past the next before dancing again with the next along, he found himself finding the rhythm quickly. His partners smiled. Some with joy at the dancing and the fun they were having. Others were more suggestive, and Rassa found it harder to smile back at those. Just a minute into the dancing he found himself spinning past Jane, who met his gaze with a torn expression before dancing with the man behind Rassa. Rassa followed her with his eyes for a moment before his eyes turned back to his current partner.
They danced with each other, one after another, kicking their legs and joining hands, stepping forwards backwards and to the side before spinning to the next. The Ribbon began to tighten as it wove together, drawing the dancers in closer to the pole. The music became faster as it did, the movements of the dancers swifter and filled with greater energy. The colours and light from the bonfire, the clapping of the crowd to keep the rhythm, the enchanting tone of the music. It wove together as a feast for the senses and Rassa reveled in it, finding himself grinning as he danced. He hadn't had this much fun in so long. A fun that was so pure and innocent in its intentions. Where there was no goal but to finish what had begun.
The rhythm reached knew heights, the dancers breathing heavily with the exertion yet grinning from ear to ear as they moved. Rassa joined hands with his partner, skipped back and forth with her, they spun around each other her skirt flaring out with the others as they spun away from each other. Rassa saw the eyes of one of the others as he spun past her, the music at an all time high as he was pulled tight towards the pole, the ribbon woven above his wrist as tight as could comfortably be done. The music hit the last couple of notes, and Rassa stopped before his next partner, a grin on his face and his cheeks flushed with a healthy warmth as he met her eyes.
He recognised those eyes.
Their smiles faded a little as they finished the dance together. The music slowed and they circled each other until their hands were tightly bound together by the Ribbon. Rassa bowed as Jane curtsied, their eyes never leaving each other. This was as close as Rassa had been to her in a while. Too long, he realised. He missed her. He needed to speak to her.
"Can we talk?"
Jane finished the sentence for him as the crowd clapped and cheered around them, the villagers moving forward to cut the ribbons so the couples would be free. In such close quarters, Rassa couldn't help but chuckle, Jane joining him as she turned away.
"Yeah, I'd love to," Rassa replied.
"How's your mother doing, I know she never used to cope well with the cold," Rassa spoke as they walked together away from the village square where the festivities were still happening.
"Well," Jane replied, "Ever since she got those furs from...well she's been doing a lot better with them".
Rassa caught her hesitation, "So I gave them to her?"
Jane nodded awkwardly.
Rassa sighed then stepped forward in front of Jane. She looked up at him surprise as he spoke.
"I'll tell you what, why don't we just go back to being friends? Best Friends. Because I might not remember falling in love with you, but I do love you, and I miss you. So could we...could we go back to-"
"Yes," Jane interrupted him eagerly, "I miss you too".
Rassa smiled, "Good...I mean-"
Jane held up an apricot bun, "I grabbed the last one for you. It's your favourite...I mean it still is your favourite, right?"
Rassa took it from her with a smile then broke it in two and handed half back to her, "It is, but I've already had two so I better go easy or mother won't be happy".
Jane accepted the half and nibbled on it as Rassa bit into his half, they kept walking, side by side in silence.
"This is kind of awkward, isn't it?"
Jane nodded in agreement.
"What did we used to do? You know, so that it wasn't awkward?"
"Well...it was never really awkward before," Jane admitted.
Right. Of course it wasn't. Rassa was making it awkward. Awkward because this was a damn illusion and he didn't share any memories with his best friend except for those from before he was six.
"Is the labour in the fields okay? With your injury and all?"
"I'm fine, the work is fine," Rassa said, "A bit more interesting than picking fruit in the orchard if I'm being honest".
Jane nodded, "Yeah, once you were old enough to work in the fields you went there. You always said that the work wasn't challenging or interesting enough in the orchards. I don't know what more there could be in the fields, but I admit I haven't worked there myself".
"I thought you would have been competitive enough to try it," Rassa said.
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Jane scoffed, "I did. Mother and Father banned me from following you".
Rassa chuckled and Jane glared at him.
"Sorry, it just sounds so much like you," Rassa said, "I'm imagining pouty faced Jane".
Jane pouted and Rassa pointed at her, "Yes, that's it".
He laughed and she joined him. After a moment they were quiet again, "So what did you do instead? Just stay in the orchard?"
Jane shook her head, "I started learning how to bake from your mother. When I got good the baker took me as an apprentice".
Rassa smiled, "So that's why I proposed huh?"
Jane looked at him in surprise and he held up the almost finished Apricot Bun in his hand, "I'd get an unlimited supply".
Jane smiled back, "Well, it wasn't said explicitly, but I don't doubt that was one of the reasons".
"Huh," Rassa replied, as he paused in front of her house, "Well, I guess I shall just have to uncover a few more".
Jane looked at her house then back at him, "Thanks for walking me back".
Rassa nodded, "My pleasure. Thanks for agreeing to be my friend...despite how awful I've been at it for the past month".
Jane nodded, "You have been...but I guess I can enjoy watching you uncover those reasons again".
"See you tomorrow?"
Jane smiled, a glint in her eye that hadn't been there before, "Tomorrow. Good night, Rassa".
"Good night, Jane".
Rassa watched her enter the house, then he turned and walked towards his own.