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Free Fiction: Advent 2010 – Day Four

December 5, 2010

Advent 2010: Day Four

Title: First Snowball Fight
Characters: Daygan, Cathal
From: World of Egaea (WIP)
Word Count: 1164
Rating: PG

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Daygan laughed as he let go of Cathal’s hand to run through the snow as it began to fall again. The wind was calm now, so the flakes seemed to float in the sky, drifting slowly to meet his upraised hands. When he looked behind him at Cathal, the Maith wore an expression he couldn’t read, and it instantly made him worry.

“Have I done something wrong?” Daygan dared to ask, lowering his arms to hug the coat Cathal had given him against his sides. He averted his gaze, already penitent for what might have been a misstep on his part. Perhaps he shouldn’t have run without permission. If his old master, Graefyn, had been there, he would surely have been beaten for such an offense. Acting on his own will, even in this small way, was strictly forbidden for a Water Slave.

Cathal’s feet made a soft crunching sound as he approached, and Daygan soon found his face being tilted up and his blue hair being tucked behind his ears. “No,” Cathal insisted. “Nothing is wrong. I was just enjoying your laughter. It’s the small things in life we often forget to cherish. You don’t need my permission to enjoy yourself in the snow, Daygan.” A smirk curved Cathal’s lips. “I took you on this walk so you would enjoy the snow, remember?”

Daygan nodded, his own smile returning. “You are kind to think of my pleasure.”

Cathal chuckled and gave him a friendly hug before nudging him out into the snow again. The encouragement warmed Daygan down to his very core, and he spread his arms out wide as he tilted his face up and tried to catch the larger snow flakes with his tongue. It was while he walked around and twirled a bit in his playful efforts that something firm hit his side, and he started with a yelp, immediately curling in on himself in preparation of a more substantial blow.

“I’m sorry!” he whimpered automatically, afraid to look up and see the anger that just had to be in Cathal’s eyes. He was confused even more by the laughter that lilted to his ears.

“Daygan, no! You’re supposed to gather your own ball of snow and try to hit me back!”

Daygan’s head jolted up, his blue eyes wide as saucers with shock. “H-Hit you b-back?” he sputtered, staring at the Maith who refused to be addressed as his master. From Graefyn’s beatings to the way he had been passed around to so many other rough men in the House of Fire, he had learned to never raise his eyes, his voice, or so much as a finger in retaliation. Now, Cathal was actually asking him to fight. By the gods, it made no sense!

“You’ve never had a snowball fight before? Even when you went to the mountains in the House of Water with the others?”

He knew Cathal meant the other slaves, but Cathal avoided that word, not wanting to identify him as such, even though that’s still what Daygan thought of himself as. He shook his head, though, completely dumbfounded. “Why would you pretend to fight? Fighting is serious, and we are trained never to show such aggression.”

Cathal’s frown made him want to hide his head, and he flushed with shame, knowing he had given an answer Cathal didn’t like. “Well, then,” Cathal murmured, “it’s time you learn.”

“To fight?” Daygan squeaked out as Cathal approached him with a determined grin. “B-but I can’t!”

“You can, and you will,” Cathal laughed, pulling him down into the snow and guiding his hands into the fluffy top layer. “Pack the snow together into a ball like this. You want it to be firm, but not hard like a rock. You felt how my snowball hit and burst apart. That’s what you’re trying for. It isn’t a real fight, and you won’t be trying to hurt me. You’ll just be trying to hit me with the snowballs.”

Daygan shook his head, unable to understand but unwilling to disobey Cathal’s wishes. He followed Cathal’s instructions and made a large snowball. His heart pounded in his chest when he was ordered to his feet and told to throw it at Cathal from a few paces away. He tossed it with very little force and purposefully missed.

“Oh, come on!” Cathal laughed. “I know you can do better than that. Get another one.” Daygan stooped obediently, forming another ball with the snow, but Cathal prodded him. “Quickly now, before I make my own!”

It was a threat, but a playful one that didn’t hold the sting that Graefyn’s threats had always held, and Daygan hurried and stood. He hesitated, though, and Cathal yelled, “Hit me!”

A direct order he couldn’t disobey. He put more force behind the throw, and the snowball collided with Cathal’s coat right in the abdomen.

“Yes!” Cathal cheered, not even bothering to dust the remnants of the snowball off his coat before scooping up his own snowball with practiced ease. “Now, dodge mine and keep making balls and throwing. Try to hit me again!”

“But–”

“But nothing. Dodge!” The order was coupled with a snowball that zoomed through the falling snow at him, and he yelped and ducked, stumbling into the snow. He used the opportunity to grab more snow, though, and made a ball, which he threw just as Cathal had told him. His heart felt like it would burst with sudden pride as he landed another ball to Cathal’s coat and earned a whoop from the Maith.

One of Cathal’s snowballs hit him, but it didn’t hurt, and Cathal yelled for him not to be discouraged, and he strangely wasn’t. He smiled as he ran across the small clearing and ducked the next blow, returning it with his own throw.

Before he knew it, he was laughing as he dodged, scooped up snow, and landed the occasional hit. Their breaths and heartbeats seemed to echo in the clearing with the crunch of the snow as they scrambled to counter one another’s attacks, and when he was breathless from exertion, he fell to the snow with a laugh and didn’t mind a bit that the next snowball hit his exposed side. Cathal flopped down into the snow beside him, and as their blue eyes met, Daygan felt joy swell up inside him.

“Your first snowball fight,” Cathal laughed. “Lesson learned?”

Instead of answering, Daygan took a chance. He scooped up a handful of snow and threw it into Cathal’s coat, bits of it spattering into Cathal’s face. Shock painted Cathal’s face following the strike, but before he could apologize, Cathal rolled onto his back and laughed. It was the most joyous sound Daygan could ever remember hearing in his lifetime, melodious and deep with satisfaction. He closed his eyes and rested back against the snow, listening to Cathal laugh as the falling flakes stuck to his eyelashes and lips.

“Yes,” he panted at last. “Lesson learned.”

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