there was something about Fire Dancer that Han could not find anywhere else. In Dancer, he found a friend that would never give up on him, a brother that would die for him, and a reluctant mentor who was always their to keep him from doing anything incredibly stupid. But for Han, Dancer was the one who would never judge him, not matter his background, no matter his rash actions or history, Fire Dancer would always be there for him, and that friendship was something that Han counted on his whole life.

It was a friendship that had saved his life multiple times.

And it was a friendship that he would never trade for anything.

They aren't brothers, but they might as well be, Raisa thought. There was something about the way Han looked at Dancer, something about the way Dancer just always seemed to be there, guarding the other wizard's back. When she had rushed in to see Han in Willow's tent the day she had woken after he had saved her life, the first face she saw was Fire Dancer's fierce blue eyes as he crouched protectively over his friend, one hand on his amulet, the other glowing with flash. His eyes had widened as he took her in, and he hesitantly moved away, but she noticed as she sat there, holding Han's hand and feeding him food, Dancer was always lingering behind her, ready to protect his brother from whatever threat she might pose.

There were no two friends that she knew who were as close as those two, and she knew she would never meet any other boys in all her years a queen who had made her laugh quite as much.

Dancer wasn't quite sure when Han became his best friend.

Somewhere between hours spent hunting and tumbling through the wilderness, years spent around a campfire, Han's feirce and loyal companionship, his name calling and his laughter.

After Han knew his secret, Han became something more. An equal, a student he needed to instruct, a friend who was just as lost and confused as he was.

But somewhere underneath all that power and flash and magic was a young boy named Hunt's Alone who had run to Dancer first when he had shot his first deer.

Fire Dancer just always seemed to be there.

When Han needed him, he was there, slipping out of the shadows with some bright remark or a quiet smile. In a fight, it was Dancer he always looked for first, and would turn around to see his friend right behind him, hand clutching his amulet, eyes wild and bright and feirce.

After a fight, when they would wash the blood from their clothes, Dancer would start talking about those days when they were boys and Han's solace had been a good hunt in the woods with his Clan friends. And Han would start to cry.

And Dancer would let him. He wouldn't say anything, he would just sit and watch, or occasionally put a hand on his friend's shoulder. But Dancer knew that Han couldn't, wouldn't show weakness to anyone else, and that he needed this.

So when Dancer cried after the Clans found out he was a wizard, Han came and sat beside him. He didn't say anything, but he really didn't need too.

There friendship had never needed words.

Han cursed as he slipped down the hill, rolling over and over through the mud and splashing into the shockingly cold water of the creek.

Raisa laughed from above him, but it was Dancer who helped him up. The other wizard flashed him a grin, eyes bright. "We're going to have to change your name, Hunt's Alone."

Han gave him a shove; Dancer stumbled, but did not fall. He laughed at Han's scowl.

"I'll change your name to something hidious," Han threatened, stomping up back up the hill.

Fire Dancer didn't say anything, but Han could hear him laughing the whole way home.

Some things never changed.

Raisia had tried to comfort him, but her kind words only made him more angry.

In truth, he wasn't sure why he was so upset-he had no reason to be. But sitting in such a fancy castle wearing such expensive clothes that were nothing like the Clan leathers and boots softer than any silk he preferred.

He was homesick.

Homesick for a home that had never really been his in the first place.

Dancer found him, sitting out in a courtyard, out in the fresh air. The other wizard came up silently behind him, and said nothing for a long while.

After a time, Dancer whispered in Clan, "We're a long way from home, aren't we, Hunts Alone?"

The use of the language, his Clan name, and the own ache in his friend's voice made Han's throat feel tight. "Yes," He whispered in the same tongue. "We are."

Fire Dancer's hand rested lightly on his shoulder for a moment, squeezing with meaningful pressure.

"Dancer," Han said, still in Clan, "I'm glad you're here."

His friend blinked, surprised, and then gave him a playful shove. "So am I, Han."

And it took Han a moment to realize that Dancer hadn't called him by his Clan name, but that didn't really matter. What mattered was the careful crafted amulet that Dancer pressed into his hand, and the promise he whispered in is ear, "We'll ride the horses out tomorrow, no matter what anyone else says. And I'll still beat you in a race."

Han turned to his friend. "Oh, you think so, do you?"

The sound of Fire Dancer's laughter was the only answer he wanted, or needed to hear.