'What do you suppose would happen if I tried it?'

“What do you suppose would happen if I tried it?” Lady Lili asked.

“Ach! You mustn’t!” Lady Lathir gasped. “What an unlucky thing that would be!”

“But I would only dream of Egelric, wouldn’t I?”

'But I would only dream of Egelric, wouldn't I?'

“Any charm to learn one’s future husband must surely bring harm upon the husband one currently has!”

“You mustn’t, Lili,” Flann said.

“Certainly not!” Gwynn agreed.

'Certainly not!'

“Oh, never mind,” Lili pouted. “I do want to keep Egelric forever and ever. But it’s not fair that I never got to try the charm!”

Gwynn laughed. “But you already know whom you will marry, since you already married him!”

“But it sounds like so much fun!” Lili whined.

'But it sounds like so much fun!'

Gwynn could not argue with that. She had been looking forward to this night for weeks – ever since Stein had brought Lathir home. Lathir had told her how, last year on Saint Luke’s Eve, she had used a charm to learn whom she would marry, and she had dreamt of an exceedingly pale man. That was proof enough for Gwynn: there were few men paler than Stein.

Lathir had helped her prepare the charm: marigold, thyme, marjoram, and wormwood flowers, dried and crumbled, passed through a cloth, and simmered over a fire of holly. Just a drop of virgin honey at the end, and the spell was ready. Anointed therewith before bed, a maiden would be certain to meet her future lover in her dreams.

Anointed therewith before bed, a maiden would be certain to meet her future lover in her dreams.

It would be the most romantic thing Gwynn had ever done, and she was so excited that she now feared that she would be unable to sleep at all.

“One does not attempt to peer into the future for fun,” Lathir scolded. “It is a grave matter.”

“Sure and certain!” Catan cried. “Think of how grave a matter it would be if one dreamt of an old man, say.”

'Sure and certain!'

“Or a priest,” Flann suggested.

“Or… or a bull!” Catan giggled.

“Or a woman!”

'Or a woman!'

“Ladies!” Lathir cried.

“Never you fear, darling,” Catan cooed. “We have our dreams picked out already, haven’t we, Flann?”

“I shall dream of the Captain, and Cat will dream of Ralf.”

'I shall dream of the Captain, and Cat will dream of Ralf.'

“No!” Gwynn groaned. “I like Ralf for you, Flann. And, Cat, you must dream of your elf. And if you do not, then you must surely dream of the Captain.”

Flann and Catan smirked at one another. They knew Gwynn’s intentions for them, and Gwynn knew that it was precisely why they had chosen those dreams – to tease her. But there was some fun even in being teased, so long as one was being teased by big girls.

“And what about you, darling?” Cat asked her. “It’s a pointed-​​eared swain will be visiting you in your dreams, or I miss my guess.”

“I don’t know about that,” Gwynn giggled, blushing.

'I don't know about that.'

“Do elves have violet eyes?” Flann wondered aloud.

“Some girls prefer green,” Lili snickered.

Gwynn cast about for something to say that would turn attention away from her and her flaming cheeks. “What about your elf, Cat? What color eyes does he have?”

Catan had turned away to the mirror, and she did not turn back to reply. “It’s blind he is, darling,” she said softly. “They’re no color at all.”

'It's blind he is, darling.'

“Oh!” Gwynn blushed still more deeply. That had been a foolish thing to say, and she feared that she had hurt her friend somehow by saying it. However, she did not find something comforting to add in time. At that moment the door flew open and her little half-​​sister came skipping in.

Her little half-sister came skipping in.

“What are you girls doing?” Leia asked.

“No, no!” Gwynn scolded. “Not for you! It’s for big girls only!”



“Ach, Gwynn!” Lili cried. “Have you already forgotten how that feels to be told you’re too little to stay with the big girls?”

Abashed, Gwynn took a step backwards, closer to Cat.

Lili explained to Leia, “The unmarried girls are going to use a charm tonight so they will dream about the man they will marry someday!”

'The unmarried girls are going to use a charm tonight.'

“I want to do the charm too!” Leia announced at once.

“No, Leia, you can’t!” Gwynn cried.

“Oh, Gwynn,” Lili sighed.

“But she can’t! She’s only four!”

“Four and nine months!” Leia corrected.

'Four and nine months!'

“So?” Lili chirped. “You’re only twelve. She’s an unmarried girl too.”

“Tell her, Lathir!” Gwynn said. “She’s too little.”

“I am not too little!” Leia growled.

'I am not too little!'

Lathir shrugged. “I don’t suppose it can harm. She isn’t married or promised, and she is a girl.”

Gwynn looked up to Cat, but Cat seemed distracted. Flann only smiled and said, “And here I was thinking it a shame we hadn’t more girls to try it tonight. The more dreamers we have, the more dreams we shall have to discuss tomorrow. And the more fun,” she added in a sly whisper.

'And the more fun.'

“What do you think, Leia?” Lili asked the girl. “Suppose you dreamt of one of my boys? Wouldn’t you like to marry Wulf or Gils some day?”

“I believe I shall marry my Papa,” Leia said.

“You can’t do that!” Gwynn gasped.

“Every little girl wants to marry her papa when she’s that age,” Lathir said. “Heaven knows I did.”

'Heaven knows I did.'

“You’ll see,” Flann said. “It’s puppies she’ll be dreaming of, or dolls or candies, eh, girlie? It’s some fun we shall have trying to puzzle that one out!”

“So can I do it?” Leia asked, looking between the faces that had been the friendliest to her so far, and pointedly ignoring Gwynn.

'So can I do it?'

“It’s my house, and I say you may,” Lili shrugged. “I shan’t deny you the fun I wish I had had!”

'It's my house, and I say you may.'