Eyes closed lightly in the shade, cuddled up in Levi’s shirt, Hataru dreamed of something she hadn’t seen in years. She was back home, not Isichar’s palace, but her old cottage in Habar. Her mother was there, in perfect health, rubbing her arm and beckoning to wake. Once she awoke, Hataru, now a little girl again, ran out the front door into the shining sunlight. All around her, joy and laughter and happiness swam through the air. A mix of brilliant colors paraded down the road before her eyes, street performers skipped about. She caught a juggler’s ball and threw it back to him; she clapped as the acrobats walked by on their hands. This was the one time of the year that everyone was in high spirits. It didn’t matter if you were a noble or a peasant; celebrating their kingdom’s birth was a patriotic affair.
When Hataru saw the her mother’s friends sporting colorful skirts, not unlike her own, dancing their way down the street she called to her mother, and they swiftly ran to join in. Spinning, leaping, bounding, twirling, the women performed the dance that they had been practicing for months. Hataru took every step with care and did her best not to mess up, for this was the first time she was allowed to dance with the women. She was determined not to ruin it. Her body moved like water, flowing ever so gracefully. It moved like the wind, fluent and never stopping. With perfect balance, she frisked about merrily.
Once she had gotten in sync with the beat of the music and had her routine down, Hataru began to observe the crowd that cheered for her and her fellow performers as they progressed down the road. To their left, the house of the king’s brother sat. It towered over the street, providing shade to the paraders, and the white pillars were decorated with banners of the royal colors. Through one of the tall glass windows, Hataru spotted a young boy, around her age, watching her in awe. His features were sharp, as though chiseled by a master sculptor. His auburn hair was pulled back into a fine pony tail, and he wore the clothes of a nobleman's son. Smiling brilliantly, she added a pirouette to her routine for him, to which he smiled back, waving encouragingly, wanting more. Hataru wanted to oblige, but unfortunately was forced forward by the performers behind her. Taking one last glance at the boy she smiled, but was taken aback when she could not find him in the window. In his place stood a young man with the same face, the same hair, and wearing the same clothes as the young boy had been almost a moment before. Hataru wanted to gaze at his remarkable transformation, but then she felt an ominous hand creep up from behind and cover her mouth. Her eyes shot open.