Inside the tower, Drake huddled near the coal fire, curled to conserve its warmth. Goose call and robin song had been on the wind for the past week, but it was still too chilly for him. His wings would crack if he attempted to fly. He might make his way up to the roof to sun himself later, after the bricks had had a chance to warm, but for now, he would remain here.
Closing his eyes to slits, he hummed the fire-song his mother had taught him, crooning to the coals to stoke their flames, feel their twisting and turning light, immerse himself in their heat. Orange and red, banked for continuity, filling him.
“That’s not a wind-song, is it?”
Drat the girl! Angelica had no business here; she knew from years past that he would emerge when he was ready. He opened one eye an inch, letting the flame glint off it to spark at her, but he did not stop humming.
She ignored his truculence and sat down with her back against one of his talons. “I think Father has made a match for Verena. She’s as twittery as the birds right now, and no one in the castle has any time for me. Even my tutor has vanished!”
Drake chuckled, interrupting his song. The coals would continue to burn. “And did he vanish before or after Verena began to act so?”
Angelica snorted, a most unladylike sound that could have come from her mist cat. “What does that matter to anything?”
He didn’t answer, instead asking, “Has your father said anything about a match?”
“No, but then, he wouldn’t. I’m too young to worry about.” She shifted to look at him. “As I’m just in the way, I thought maybe you could teach me the next bit of wind-song? Whatever comes after focus?”
“Let me hear that you’ve been practicing first.” He knew she had; he could hear her every time she faltered on a note.
She sighed, but began to sing, softly at first, her voice gaining strength with each note, until they swirled through the inside of the tower, a tonal staircase of magic and sound. His voice joined hers, humming again the basic fire-song, adding warmth to the air, blending it to a place of joy. After a few minutes, they let their voices fade.
She flushed at the praise.
“Now listen carefully. This next is the song that must be sung at the turn of the seasons, summoning the good to come. You don’t have much time to master it, so you will have to practice it — not just daily, but several times daily.” That should keep her from fretting about what was going on with Verena, and she would have the time to do so if her tutor really wasn’t here to give her other assignments.
He sang it through five times before she attempted to copy it. Then they spent an hour more working on her tones, her splits, and her note carries until he was satisfied that she understood the basics of what she had to do. “Come back in three days to show me.”
She left, and he watched her go, a warm glow in his throat that had nothing to do with the coals. She would make a good singer in time. He closed his eyes and listened to the soft echoes of her song, captured in the tower by repetition. Beyond, he heard again the birdcalls that presaged spring. It was enough.
I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I’ve done my Friday flash, let alone a Smoke and Drake tale. Like Drake, my brain shuts down in winter.
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.