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Midwinter, it was morning, Author's Notes
but Riiran knew,
it was still as deeply dark as sleep outside.
Not so late that the sky was beginning to grow light,
but not so early that anyone still in their bunk
wouldn't get teased
with stories about Lazy Lali
and threatened with losing their ration of morning sausage.
Riiran rolled out of her furs with a sigh;
it was too noisy in the shared house to sleep anyway;
chattering, clattering, rustling, whistling.
Someone was even drumming on an empty bowl.
Two domestics spilled in from the curtained entry room,
still in their heavy winter coats and boots,
cold air in swirls of steam coming with them.
"Come see!" Srena crowed.
"The lights are dancing like they're celebrating Flower Day early."
A few people seemed willing to brave the cold to see them,
rising to go to the entry space and put on boots and coats.
"We've seen the lights before,"
the rest protested.
"Not like this," Yamiga assured.
"Reds and purples, covering the whole sky."
"There was a flurry of earthquakes a few weeks ago,"
Elsher said thoughtfully from the hearth.
"Sometimes they are particularly active after that."
"Kladeith knew that the Upheaval affected the magnetic fields,
and that those affected the lights."
"Kladeith knew you were an idiot,"
Laisesu muttered, but even she was rising to see them now.
The outer door opened, and for a moment,
they could hear exclamations of wonder from outside;
it must be quite a show!
The chatter of the house moved outside,
crowding through the curtained entryway
with cheerful argument over mittens and hats.
"Don't you care to see, Riiran?" Elsher asked,
as he rose to leave as well, his work at the hearth finished.
Riiran shook her head quickly.
"No, it's all right," she promised.
"Someone should... stay to watch that the soup doesn't overboil."
It was a weak excuse, but Elsher accepted it with a knowing smile,
following the crowd out into the cold morning.
And finally, the last person was out the door.
They would be back soon enough,
once their necks had grown stiff,
craning to see the show,
and their fingers had become numb,
sharing stories about the wild colors
and dancing curtains that they'd remember forever.
What Riiran would remember forever was the blissful stillness
of an empty house.
No chatter, no clatter,
no rustling, or whistling, or drumming.
Just the still, insulated house, all to herself,
not even the steady breathing of someone sleeping to break the peace.
She sighed in delight and almost laughed,
because she could hear herself for once.
The display of lights might be a rare sighting,
but this was rarer still,
and she meant to enjoy it.
Prompted by Deirdre at the February 2014 Muse Fusion!