dreams unto waking dreams unto waking

It had been a very long time since the black-haired daughter of house
Tarinus had danced.

Over thirty years, to be exact. She had dancing slippers then, pairs
upon pairs of dancing slippers all beautifully embroidered and
tailored for her tiny, narrow feet. Compared to a strand of gossamer
back then, as sure on her feet as a gazelle, she had spent hour upon
hour painstakingly tracing intricate steps of dance whenever a ball
had come upon her.

Yet only now had Crysania of Tarinus truly danced.

Always barefoot. Although she was never sightless here, some
unconscious want always dictated that the soles of her feet had to be
free to feel the polished, dusty boards.

Always robed. Plain, white and severe, as familiar to her as a second
skin, pristine in the pure whiteness of the material. She would not
have her plain robe for all her old, pretty gowns, made of silk and
velvet. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, and as always,
she wore the heavy medallion of Paladine.

Always alone. The daughter of Paladine held the fold of her dress in
one hand and the shoulder of an unseen partner in the other, dancing
alone with such exquisite beauty that any watcher of her would have
felt their heart breaking.

It was right that way, dancing alone. Taking up the steps of dances
she had not touched upon for many, many years, Crysania danced to music
only she could hear. The hall she danced in was one conjured from her
memories, in the streaming, soft sunlight of a spring morning.

Yet that time was different. The sunlight had been changed to that of
night, with flickering torches and candlelight seeing her steps. She
faltered restlessly, unable to grasp the usual thread of music and the
peace of the dancing it so usually brought her... distracted, by the
feel of something else in the room, unsettled...

Crysania ended her hesitant dance with a satirical, weary curtsey to
her long-suffering invisible partner, and was startled out of her
reverie listening to clapping.

Her blood running cold, she felt her heart wrench. There was only
one man in all of eternity who could make even clapping sound both
sarcastic and reverent.

"Exquisite," Raistlin Majere commented, lips curling.

Crysania stood in place, looking away, hoping that the shadow of her
imagination would disappear. Peeking around five minutes later,
however, he was still there, black robes whispering around his ankles.

She turned her face away again and stared at the ground, addressing
more the floorboards than anything else; "Why do you come back to
taunt me?"

"Do you imply that I am dead, Revered Daughter?"

"For years."

"You should know that I will never die."

One by one the torches went out, until there were only two to light her
way. Now Raistlin was robed within shadow as well as his robe; she
could see his eyes, glittering, piercing her soul.

"Nor live," she answered bitterly. "Why do you haunt me so? Why must
you torment me further? Do you feed upon my pain, Raistlin?"

He drew further back into the shadow and the cleric turned away from
him, wishing herself a thousand leagues away.

"Do you really wish me to leave?" His whisper seemed to come from far
away and yet as if he was talking into her ear; the trembling came
unbidden, as she tried to clear her mind and think... think sensible

"I hate you," she announced feebly, then grew more fervent. "I curse
the foolish day I ever met you! Not a day goes by when I do not shudder
at the thought of you!"

And then he was right beside her, stalking around to face her
properly, gold eyes burning with a dreadful hunger. "You surely
realize, milady," he hissed, "that that merely means you think of me
every day."

"Get away from me," she pleaded, voice shaking.

His hand cupped her face, his touch like holy fire. "You do not wish
that, Crysania, and you know it. Or am I the only one who knows what
you whisper in the silence of your soul?"

"You know nothing of my soul!" Crysania retorted, eyes burning blue and
body trembling like an autumn leaf. Too easily could she have ripped
her face from his grasp, but her heart was thudding too hard for
any rebellion against him but averting her eyes from his gaze.

"I know enough." Raistlin's hand dropped abruptly from the soft, pale
skin of her face. He turned away from her, and she fell back a step.
When he spoke again, his voice was almost softer than a whisper, but
in the quiet deadness of the ballroom louder than a shout. "And perhaps
it is I who should be pleading for release, for you to leave me be;
you drive me to madness, Revered Daughter." He began to pace
frantically, murmuring more to himself than anything else. "Why you?
Why is your face cauterized beneath my eyelids? Why do you haunt my
every quiet moment!?"

Silence reigned triumphant, the faint echoes of their words bouncing
around the lofty rafters. Crysania stood as if stuck in place, staring
down at her hands as if wondering why they were trembling.

Raistlin appeared to have gathered in his anger, for he said no more.
The cleric relaxed - only a little - and clasped her hands together,
looking away.

Suddenly her hands were pulled apart and one was grasped by his,
pulling her to face him and drawing her dangerously close. He placed
her trembling hand upon his shoulder and took up her other one, eyes
and smile mocking her. "Have you missed me, Revered Daughter?"

"Like I miss the pestilence," she shot back bitterly at him, but she
could not help but to bury her head in the soft velvet of his shoulder,
hiding from him and welcoming him all at once. "Like I miss sunshine,"
she continued on in a whisper.

"Sunshine is overrated, Crysania." How many times had he ever addressed
her by name?

"Yet I still miss the warmth of it."

"Can you not feel the sun without me?" His voice was so mocking, as
always, but he clung tighter to her, as if afraid she would suddenly

"No," she answered, quietly and truthfully. "How long do I have you,

"Too forgiving," he murmured to her. "Always too forgiving. Forever.
Never. A single second; how long are dreams?"

Her grip tightened. She had bore the last years without him, retaining
only her sanity by the memory of him; how could she continue on with
the knowledge of him so close?

"I love you," Crysania whispered to him. "Paladine help me, I love
you. D-don't leave me - " she faltered.

His response was to stroke her back, trying to comfort where he could
not. "Some day, perhaps, Revered Daughter. When you finally know what
you want."

"Do you love me?" She tensed herself up, almost trying to brace herself
for the mental blow she was sure she would recieve.

He cupped her chin in his hand and tilted her head up to his, stealing
her soul in an instant, minting her with his sigil. "You already know
the answer," Raistlin breathed, and kissed her as if he would never
kiss her again.

She was already crying by then, her tears touching his cheeks,
accepting him as mutely and as willingly as she knew how. All too soon
they parted; his hand still cupped her tearstained face.

"And now you've been sleeping too long, Crysania. Dawn calls."

"Wait!" she cried out. "Raistlin!"

But everything was already blurring and darkening, and she found
herself still trying to whimper his name. Everything was grey again,
and sightless; it was like being dead after living a few precious
seconds... it was waking.

She lifted her hand to her cheek, and it was wet with tears.