All characters belong to Tamora Pierce

Tammy Drabble 58 – Celebration (an excuse for odd pairings)

Star Struck

She wasn't exactly beautiful, and he didn't know her reputation, but he did know she was older, single, and would probably drive his mother crazy. Those were the reasons that Thom had asked the Lady Maura to dance. He'd not wanted to attend what he liked to call the "cattle market", when the eligible nobles' daughters were presented at court like prize oxen displayed for sale. "This is the sort of thing nobles do," she'd explained, while Thom stood there biting his lip, watching her fuss with his tunic, and fighting the urge to point out that Alanna had not been presented at court, primarily since everyone had thought she was a guy at the time.

Thom wasn't sure what had brought Maura to this party – she had either been presented long ago, or maybe skipped it all together. Perhaps she was just visiting and thought that dancing would be fun. She was a very good dancer and she was clever and funny – things that had drawn Thom to keep her as a partner, despite his intentions to make a fool out of himself by dancing with every woman in the place that he thought might make Ma crack her knuckles. As for why he asked her to walk outside with him -- well, he didn't know why he'd done that at all. Maybe it was the wine or that he'd just been so hot from dancing that he'd been enticed by the thought of a cool breeze.

It's funny, he mused, how someone can seem so plain until you know them, and then transform to something so lovely right before your very eyes, as if they possess magic that far exceeds a normal Gift. "Beautiful night," he said nervously.

"Oh yes," she agreed. "No moon, and a smooth, deep purple sky speckled with a million stars. I'll bet you can spot every constellation possible for this time of year." She smiled as she stared up, and Thom's heart thumped very loudly. He hadn't expected that at all. "It would be a great night for flying. I wish I could sprout wings."

That was the moment Thom knew he was in trouble. He would have expended every bit of his Gift to help her fly if he could have. While his mind began to sort through spells that might help, his hands somehow found their way into hers, and before he'd realized he'd leaned in, their lips met. So much for something empty to irritate his mother.