Bran had never given much thought to dancing. Being the "freak", growing up being feared or hated, or both—no, he had never given much thought to such a social activity as dancing.
Until he had his first glimpse of the boy called Will Stanton.
He first heard the name Will Stanton one weekend supper at the Evans's house. On that ordinary night, Mrs Evans announced that her nephew, Will, would be convalescing in Wales.
For some unknown reason, that name alone raised a tiny seed of interest within Bran.
"He's about your age, Bran," Mrs Evans explained. "Youngest of that large Stanton brood. Brother of Mary, you remember? I dare say you two will get along nicely."
She couldn't quite mask the questioning inflection at the end of her sentence. What she really wanted to say was if Bran wouldn't mind getting along with this stranger, even though he hardly showed any interest in Will's sister, Mary, when she had been staying at the farm.
Bran just shrugged, focusing back on his meal with the same intensity he usually reserved for his harp.
The next day, Bran's opinion of Will Stanton change drastically. It was all because of that strange man with the beak-like nose and white mane. The man's talk had been just as strange as his appearance—beings of Light and Dark, battles continuing from long ago, magic, destiny, and Will Stanton. Yet, unbelievable as they were, the man's words had resonated with some hidden thing deep within Bran's soul.
And Bran just knew that Will Stanton would be the key to unlocking the secrets of Bran's own mysterious past and future.
So, for the next days, Bran fanatically took up a vigil. Hurrying home from school, not minding the stares that always followed him because, for a while, thinking about Will Stanton became a sort of shield against those stares. Always lurking near the Evans's house pretending to do chores when really his eyes were glued to the road and his ears were wide open for any sound or signal of coming guest. If he couldn't find a chore, he'd plant himself near a window that had a good view of the road.
He was scrubbing a particularly sparkling pan when the farm's Land Rover roared from the road into the compound. His head snapped up immediately.
Will Stanton had arrived.
For a moment, Bran had a vision of him and a faceless Will Stanton running through the farm like two normal boys. Then the moment was gone and he irritably scolded himself for daydreaming so foolishly. This was all about destiny and magic and serious things. Not about making friends.
The car's door opening caught his eye. Bran stood up and saw a small boy jump from the car. The boy tottered a bit causing Bran to chuckle. The boy was just like a puppy learning to walk. That thought dampened his mood a bit. Will Stanton looked so small and so normal. Was he really a being of the Light?
Then huge eyes looked up from a wan face straight into Bran's own eyes. And Bran forgot to breathe. Although he was half-hidden in his dark house, Bran felt as if he was suddenly enveloped in warm light, just with that one glance.
Bran staggered. The pan and rag dropped from suddenly shaking hands. Faithful Cafall whined and nosed his hand, but he hardly noticed his dog. All of his attention was on Will Stanton.
He gulped. His heart beat wildly. His breathing came in pants. His body vibrated with the unfamiliar feeling of excitement. He wanted to move. To walk. To run. To hop. To take Will Stanton's hand and go somewhere. Anywhere. To talk. To laugh. To have those eyes look at him. Only him.
Mrs Evans came rushing from their cottage and engulfing Will Stanton in a huge hug.
Bran wanted to do that.
Mrs Evans turned her hug into a delighted romp that included carrying the boy and swinging around once, earning a delighted laugh for her warm welcome.
Bran wanted to do that too.
Mrs Evans then put Will Stanton down, gathered the boy's face between her hands, and bestowed a kiss the boy's brow.
Bran wanted…well maybe not that. Not…yet.
Mrs Evan herded her guest inside and Bran whined just like Cafall as Will Stanton moved out of sight. But, before he entered the cottage, Will Stanton looked back for a moment and Bran could have sworn that the boy's eyes met his for one more instant. And then he was gone.
Bran slumped to his knees. He felt drained yet energized. Something totally unexpected and mysterious had arrived with the boy Will Stanton. Something that transcended the destined meeting the strange white-haired man had been talking about.
Bran could only think of those dancers he'd watched during festivals—laughing and shouting, gaily moving their bodies to the rhythm of the music.
Bran was feeling the same heady mixture of joy and anticipation that he always sensed from the dancers. But this time, Will Stanton was giving Bran the chance to not just be a spectator. Bran could now be a participant. He could be a performer of this incredibly complicated dance of feelings.
And Bran vowed to himself that he would learn the steps no matter what!