Disclaimer: I do not own the Firekeeper saga. I am nothing more than a devoted fan who has fallen in love with the characters and is trying to express that with a poor tribute to Jane Lindskold's work. I also don't own the song "Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)" by Sting because, well, I'm not Sting.

Title: Beating Hearts
Teaser: Firekeeper had always loved to dance.
Character(s): Firekeeper, Blind Seer, Race Forester
Rating: K+
Length: 619 words
Notes: I would like to state right now that I can't dance for beans. The only time I'm even halfway decent at it is when there are little arrows telling me what to do. So perhaps it seems odd that I would have so many plotbunnies – Royal or otherwise – that involve dancing. However, it's always fascinated me that Firekeeper, wolf woman extraordinaire, loves to dance so much. It seems somehow strange that she could enjoy something so very human, and yet it's entirely fitting at the same time. Following that thought, I wondered what other characters in the series would think of dancing, and the plotbunnies were on me faster than the yarimaimalon descended on Waln and company at the end of Wolf Captured. This is my way of humoring those story ideas. None are long enough to be a story of their own, so they'll be stowed here, drabbles and short one-shots, for your reading enjoyment. (Because this fandom is way too small!) I really wanted to do Doc and Elise first, because I adore the both of them, but it's Firekeeper's series, so… (And don't worry; subsequent author's notes will be much shorter than this!)

From the first day Derian had started teaching her, Firekeeper had loved to dance.

It had been her first hint that humans might perhaps have something to offer that her wolf kin did not. While wolves did sing – for the hunt, for birth, or simply for the joy of singing – they had nothing that compared to music. While all creatures great and small danced in their own way, these "dances" were nothing like what humans did to the piping of a flute or the stroke of a drum. It was completely mind boggling for the wolfling, and well worth the stiff clothes and hours of tedium that humans insisted must accompany a ball.

As much as she both loved and hated these formal occasions, however, Firekeeper's favorite dances were the ones done outside of the ballroom. She had a distinct memory of one such time, one from long before they'd been taken to Liglim. It predated even New Kelvin and the Dragon of Despair.

It had been a brisk winter night on the Norwood Grant. The clouds above them had been heavy with snow, and the ground was hard beneath their feet. She and Blind Seer had joined Derian, Edlin, and Race Forester in one of the gardens.

A feeling of contented peace lay over the five. Firekeeper lay curled at Blind Seer's side, lazily dividing her attention between the comet overhead and her three friends working on their separate tasks. Derian sat hunched over a piece of tack, patiently rubbing leather polish into the already gleaming saddle. Edlin was fletching arrows, filling the night air with the sharp tang of the glue he used. Race had his whittling knife out and was working a block of wood down to a thin cylindrical shape.

Interested by this last, Firekeeper watched as, gradually, the woodsman transformed the block into what was obviously a pipe or flute of some kind. Finally, the master forester set aside his tools and blew a few experimental notes into his creation. He frowned, picked up the knife, and made a few minor adjustments. When he next tried the notes, he appeared satisfied.

"Play something, Race," Firekeeper said. When he glanced at her, she shrugged and freed an arm from Blind Seer's ruff to gesture around them. "Is good night for music."

"Did you have anything particular in mind?" he asked.

She shook her head. Race paused, thinking, then raised his instrument to his lips and began to play.

Firekeeper settled back against her packmate's flank, listening to the tune. It was a soft, soothing sound, yet somehow sad, and the wolf woman closed her eyes, feeling herself lulled to sleep.

Before she had fully drifted off, the piece had ended, and Race was switching to a quick, lively tune. Opening her eyes again, she found one foot subconsciously keeping time to the pipe's soaring notes. Suddenly wide awake, Firekeeper rose to her feet and started to dance.

There were no strict rules governing her movements, no formal patterns or courtly manners that needed to be observed here. Her movements were wild and free, whirling, twirling, falling, leaping, answering the music's call. Dimly, she was aware that a grinning Derian had glanced up from his saddle, and that Edlin had set aside his work to watch her, but if they said anything, so lost was she that she didn't hear.

She did, however, hear it when Blind Seer spoke.

"Dear heart, what are you doing?" he asked, lazily flipping his tail out of her way.

"I am dancing," she replied simply. A few heartbeats later, the great wolf yawned and climbed to his feet.

He joined her in the dance, and their hearts beat as one.