Marita rubbed her eyes and scowled at the sunlight streaming through the window. Morning already? It can't be.
She was tired enough to border on cranky, but that wouldn't do. The craftsmaster at the palace would be sure to notice if she even brushed against cranky. No - better get up and make the most of it.
The morning would have been better if she had gotten more sleep. For some odd reason, her eyes had snapped open a few hours before dawn, and try as she might, she couldn't doze back off. Maybe I'll skip going to the cave tonight and get to bed early. The thought was tempting, even when she considered how much she wanted to be at the cave.
Inga Kadlec stirred as Marita rolled off her pallet. "Grandmother, are you awake?"
"I am now."
"Do you need something?" Marita stifled a yawn.
"No, I - darling, are you alright?"
Her grandmother eyed her carefully. "You look exhausted."
Marita shrugged it off. "I didn't sleep well last night. I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep."
Inga's brow wrinkled. "I wonder if it is true, then."
"The legend. It says that when you can't sleep at night, it's because you're awake in someone else's dream."
Marita snorted. "That's nonsense."
"I'm not so sure it is," Inga said. "You didn't sleep last night."
"And?" Despite herself, Marita was curious to see where her grandmother was going with this.
"I dreamed about you last night."
"You dreamed about me?"
Inga nodded. "You were in the woods. I told you to remember your shoes at least a dozen times, but you were sill barefoot."
Marita smiled. "Are you sure this was a dream, Grandmother?"
"Oh, yes, dear. Because your hair was brushed."
Marita's hand flew up to her tangled curls. Yes, that must have been a dream. "What was I doing?"
"You were dancing. And singing."
"I usually whistle."
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"Was that it?" Marita asked.
Inga stopped, lost in thought, a thought that had the promise to be pleasant.
"There was a young man there, too."
Marita sat down on the edge of the bed. "Who was it?"
"I don't know. I'd never seen him before."
"What did he do?"
Inga was silent for a full minute before she spoke again. "He danced with you."
It had been a week since her grandmother's dream, and still Marita couldn't get it out of her mind. I've never danced with a young man before in my life. I've never even danced before! Where would she have picked up an idea like that?
She rolled over and adjusted the blanket covering her legs. And I wonder what I was singing? The question came to her so many times a day, and yet there had been no answer. She might have been singing a number of different things. Who could know for certain? Inga probably wouldn't recognize the song unless she heard it again.
Her pallet felt unnaturally hard tonight. Maybe that's why it was taking so long to get to sleep. And it was too hot. Marita kicked the blanket off. That was better.
She lay still for a few minutes. Then she rolled onto her back. The cottage around her was dark -- the perfect darkness for a good night's sleep.
The pallet was still uncomfortable. Marita flopped herself over onto her stomach. Maybe this position would be better.
I am tired! Why can't I fall asleep?
It was after another half hour of twisting and flopping that Marita gave up. Some heroine I'd make -- can't even fall asleep!
Inga snorted in her sleep across the room, and Marita hesitated. Is she dreaming about me again? Is that why I can't sleep? It might be nice if she'd stop dreaming about me.
A yawn overtook her, and she settled on the pallet once more. An hour passed. Then two. Her eyelids grew gradually heavier and heavier, and though she yearned to doze off, sleep was slow in coming. Marita's breathing steadied, her mind wandered into a delicious fog, and then --
Her eyes closed of their own accord.
At the exact same moment, Felix bolted upright.
The cold, stone wall of his chamber mocked the fire that had just consumed him. All was still and silent, yet he could hear the echo of her cry ringing in his ears.
Felix tried to calm his racing heart. "Go back to sleep. It was just a dream. Just a dream."
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