The smell of burning skin lingers in the air, along with smoke and flames. Cracking wood was hiding the sounds from a young girl’s cry, she wasn’t hurt but she was afraid. What she was afraid was something she herself didn’t know, but it was out there, waiting for her to be brave enough to come out from her hiding spot. It felt like it had been hours since she crawled into the spot, when the screams began she hadn’t been brave enough to look what was going on, all she could think of was hiding. Now she was stuck there, if only they could come and find her. Who they were, didn’t she know either, but she knew that they were good people. All she knew was that whenever she went to hide, they would come and tell her that it was safe to come out.
Lily opened her eyes by the sound of someone hushing while gently sway her. She looked to her left and saw Aunt Harriet’s tired face. When their eyes met she smiled at Lily and gently stroke her hair.
- Was it that nightmare again?
Lily nodded, and Harriet pulled her closer into a hug. For as long as Lily could remember that nightmare would appear every night during the bridal season. She didn’t remember when it started, but it was always during this time of the year, never had this dream appeared at any other time. Not even when Harriet lost her job, and everyone had a hard time surviving.
- How are you feeling?
Harriet pulled Lily out from her thoughts.
- I’m feeling better now.
Harriet smiled before leaning in to kiss her forehead.
- That’s good, you got important days ahead so try to sleep some more.
After Harriet had closed the door, Lily looked at the ceiling, she could still hear her heart beating rapidly, but she felt so terrible for always bothering Harriet. Lily pulled her blanket into a massive ball and hugged it, just how many years had it been since she first had this nightmare? She really wished that she knew, it was almost like it always had been there. And every time it appeared, Harriet would be there when she woke up, calming her down.
When the sun’s first rays of light hit Lily’s face, she didn’t want to get up, the nightmare and her thoughts had kept her awake far longer than usual. Normally she would jump right up and be eager to get things done. After all the bridal season was more of a holiday than any of the holidays existing, so there was a lot of things to do. And those who had been doing a great job helping out were given a basket of different sweets and tools, last year Lily got a book about witches and it had been the best book she had ever gotten. This year she hoped that she would be given another book about witches or even better, about vampires. Vampires and witches had ruled the world for centuries until the werewolves sided with the humans. Werewolves had superb strength and stamina, while the humans had the numbers and sorcery. Together they managed to force both the witches and the vampires away from their powers, but there was no information in the history books if that meant that they were all killed or just locked away. There was also no information about the traits of neither of the banned races. But it was because of the collaboration between the humans and the werewolves that the bridal season came to exist, so every summer a group of werewolves would go to the human towns and cities in order to get themselves a human. There were conditions that needed to be met on both parts, but otherwise once the human had been picked it was like they stopped existing. The only time that a picked human could visit their families was also during the bridal season, which is why this time of the year had become one of the most important seasons. Yet Lily didn’t get up from bed, in fact she was so tired that fell asleep.
The second time Lily woke up, she heard chatter and laughter from the street. She could also hear how Aunt Harriet were walking around downstairs, from how Harriet walked around it was obvious that she was stressed. Lily tried to move her blanket away and get up, after all she had been sleeping long enough by now. But when she did and felt the cold air, the blanket came back on. Since when had it been this cold in the house? And during summer at that? If it had been during winter Lily would have understood, but now? She looked at the window and saw the clear blue sky, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. A new wave of tiredness flowed over Lily and before she was even aware of it herself, she had fallen asleep.
Shakings, was it an earthquake? They weren’t common but at the same time they weren’t uncommon either. Lily opened her eyes quickly just to see that the earthquake was none other than her cousin Stella violently shaking her.
- You need to wake up now, they’re here!
- Already? Aren’t they supposed to come tomorrow?
- They were but they are early, so hurry up!
Stella pulled Lily out of the bed, and the entire room started to spin when she stood up. It disappeared just as she was about to grab Stella’s arm, was she getting sick? Miss Trudy had once told her that those who had caught the summer flu would have extreme dizziness as one of the symptoms. Summer flus were rare in this part of the world, because most of the people here had mixed blood so they were healthier than the others. This also meant that they had to live a different way in comparison to normal humans, but for Lily that was one of the best things about life here.
Stella let go of her arm and opened her wardrobe, rampaged through it so violently that Lily thought that her clothes would be in pieces. Once the clothes that Stella had been looking was found, she turned to Lily.
- Put this on and do it quickly.
And Lily didn’t ask why or argued back, that was something you just didn’t do with Stella. The thing that Stella had been so wildly searching for was a green dress that perfectly matched her dark hair. She didn’t even know that she had a dress like this, and with a look on Stella’s face she could tell that it looked well on her too. After a short admiration Stella once more grabbed Lily’s arm and when Stella started rushing down the stairs, still holding onto Lily’s arm that’s when Lily started to get suspicious. If there was anyone that was obsessed with this, it would be Stella and she would rather let those who weren’t there to stay away than picking them up.
- Can you let go of me?
- No, I can’t
- Why not?
- Because I said no
- But you’re too fast for me, I’m going to fall if you don’t let go.
- Keep those short legs of yours moving, or we are both going to be late!
Stella looked at her with eyes filled with irritation and Lily understood that the conversation had reached its end.
The brightness from the sun was too much for Lily’s eyes, so she had to cover them with her free hand. Although she felt that something was off with her body, it did feel wonderful to be outside. With Stella still half dragging her, the two of them made their way to the celebration house. The celebration house was a beautiful house with lots of different pattern and details on it. It was also the biggest house in the city, yet it was still placed so far away from the rest of the city. Their feet moved like drumrolls on the street until they got to the large doors leading into the celebration house, Miss Trudy used to tell stories about the celebrations house originally being a stable for the dragons that the witches had. That’s why the building was so big and were so beautiful, since dragons was a prideful race that demanded the best. If those stories were true or not, was something Lily didn’t know but she would always come to think of them whenever she saw the building and its large doors.