Secret Children: Festival of renewal

By Desert Mouse

The big night arrived and all twelve of the girls gathered in the great ballroom of the castle. The main feast was already over, but the food remained; moved to the sides for the girls to snack on throughout the evening.

The great ballroom was only a modest size, but it was decorated beautifully with the different colours each of the castles residents preferred; arranged to flow around the room.

The air was filled with the sounds of music coming from the instruments on the ballroom stage. There was no one playing them, but in the middle of it all stood Emerald's cinnamon coloured rock quietly manipulating the instruments. Several hours earlier Violet, Jade, and Sapphire played the music that would repeat throughout the night, while Emerald trapped the sounds into her stone.

Emerald was standing by the larger table full of food, she took a couple pieces of sliced fruit and snacked on them while she watched everyone enjoying the festivities. Already three sets of girls paired up, and started dancing with each other. She watched the six of them for several minutes as their elegant dresses twirled and fluttered. Emerald wanted to join them, but there was something she felt should be done first.

She took a deep breath, more from excitement then the fear what she was doing wasn't going to work. She practiced it a lot whenever she was alone. She was confident in her abilities. That didn't mean that she wasn't nervous that they wouldn't enjoy what she had planned. It was time to begin so she grabbed two candles from the table and took them to the front stage.

"Excuse me." she said loudly. She placed the candles on the stage, one at each of her sides. Everyone was so busy having fun that she had to call out a couple more times before she had the attention of everyone except for Lily and Marigold.

"I have something special that I would like to share with everyone." She announced with excitement. She closed her eyes and started to concentrate, half of the lanterns and candles lit around the room blew out. This drew Marigold's attention, but Lily continued to stare off into space.

It was more difficult, because the added visuals divided her attention. But Emerald had to open her eyes for this part of her show. With her hands clasped in front of her she extinguished the two candles she put on the stage, and manipulated the smoke from both of them to gather in front of her.

Emerald kept her focus and made the smoke dance for the other girls. She changed its colour to a green, and reshaped it to look like one of the trees beyond the castle walls. Her audience was completely silent; she had never shown them this trick before.

She made the smoke swirl around in a ball and turned it pink, with a small little cats tail and ears like sakura's poking out. This caused a lot of giggling from the little feline.

The little pink ball bounced up and down three times before she changed its colour once more. This time she turned it white, and reshaped it into the image of a candle, turning the tip red for her friends.

She held the smokes shape for two minutes and then allowed it to dissipate. Emerald re-lit the ballroom lights and the other girls erupted in cheers. She smiled at the other girls but needed several minutes to catch her breath. Without using the stone magic could become very draining.

Emerald almost frowned as most of the other girls grabbed a partner and Crystal was left all alone. She approached the girl but in a small way was actually glad no one had decided to dance with her. This way Emerald could try and keep her safe while they danced.

Emerald didn't need to speak a word. All she had to do was hold out her hand to Crystal and the fragile girl accepted it. While they danced together Rose took a firm hold of Lily's hands and started to dance with her. They joined the other girls already paired up. Violet was with Diamond, the twins danced together, Holly managed to catch Sapphire, and even Ruby got caught up in the fun and latched onto of all people Marigold.

All of the girls danced until the party was momentarily interrupted with a loud shriek. Crystal lost her footing and tumbled to the ground, too fast for Emerald to catch her. Rose broke from her partner to see if Crystal was all right. She wasn't the only one as Diamond escaped from Violets grasp at the same time. The others didn't want to crowed them so they stayed where they were; pausing their dances.

"Don't worry about me, just go dance." Crystal said looking up at a worried Emerald. She tried to prove it by getting to her feet, but winced with the pain from her ankle and almost fell back down.

"This will only take a moment." Emerald promised. She closed her eyes and started to work her healing magic on the accident prone child. She couldn't shake the feeling that she should have been able to prevent this. She was standing right there when it happened.

"I need you to sit this one out Crystal, and give that ankle some rest. I want to look at it again when the party is over, and I can use my stone." Emerald explained. Rose smiled, and took Crystal's hand. She helped the injured girl reach the ballroom's edge and a seat.

"Thank you." Crystal said with a warm smile. Rose gave her a polite curtsey, and returned to the dance, eventually being taken hostage by Emerald and twirled around to signal the party should continue.

Sakura was enjoying the night as she always did. But after a while of dancing she started to become a little restless; with a cheerful smile she broke from the arms of her sister and started to walk around the rim of the dance floor. Jade didn't let her get too far from her sight, but didn't try and stop her yet. Sakura saw something that grabbed her attention, and she made a beeline for the snack tables. "Amongst song and laughter; tasks of the day, are to be put away." Sakura giggled tugging at Sapphire's dress. The older girl looked down and smiled at her. She almost continued to try and tidy up one of the food tables, but she recognized that the child would not leave her alone if she did. "Fine, you win." Sapphire said pretending to be grumpy about it. "The hands willing, but the heart wanders?" Sakura questioned. Sapphire looked into her bright eyes and thought for a moment. "I guess." She said unsure. "Music and laughter call a return home." Sakura giggled "You might be right." Sapphire replied. Then she gave Sakura a warm smile. "I'm really looking forward to later tonight." "Beds abandoned once a year. Giggling companionship in place of story and song until sleep claims twelve." Sakura said cheerfully. "It doesn't feel normal for you?" Sapphire asked. Sakura looked at her with confusion clearly displayed on her face. "You share a room with Jade, doesn't it feel like you do this every night?" "Same in name alone. Two halves united remain one." Sakura giggled wildly. Sapphire picked an apple from the table while she tried to figure out what Sakura was trying to say. She thought about it for a couple minutes. "I'm sorry I cantů" she started to say. The apple slipped from her fingers and she lost the thought as Sakura leaped towards the fallen fruit and grasped it with both her hands in front of her. "Are you wiggling your tail?" she asked instead; watching Sakura's tail wave back and forth in an almost lashing motion. 'Sakura!" Diamonds voice called out was loud enough for the two of them to hear without drawing attention to everyone else. She approached the two of them at a brisk pace and yanked Sakura off the floor. "I thought you learned last year what happens when you horse around. Or do you want to hurt someone this year too?" "Regret seizes the heart. Intentions lost in action." Sakura stumbled. She struggled a little in Diamond's grip. "What were you thinking?" Diamond asked. She released Sakura and stared her right in the eyes. "Control abandoned with movement. Action too swift to quiet." Sakura tried to explain. "And what do you think you are doing?" another voice growled. It came from Jade whom never let her sister out of sight. The older girl's aggressive movements springing her into action. She turned to Sakura. "You don't have to explain yourself to her." "Jade, this is none of your concern." Diamond said flatly. "No, this is none of your concern Diamond. You have no authority over Sakura and you have NO right to bring up what happened last year." Jade spoke sharply. She positioned herself between Sakura and Diamond. "Neither of you can deny what she did. " Diamond pointed out. "What happened last year was an accident, and it was days before she stopped feeling guilty about it. I will not allow you to put her through that again." Jade told her coldly. "When she does something wrong she should feel guilty." Diamond replied. "No! Not her. She's too important to have moping around the castle." "She is not excluded from the rules." Diamond shot back. "IF she does something wrong, it is for me to handle it. If you wish to help then kindly inform me of the problem. You however will not try and punish her." Jade said sharply. "This isn't the time for this. Can't it wait until tomorrow?" Sapphire offered. Diamond was never given the chance to reply. During her conversation with Jade; Sakura slipped away and went looking for someone to put an end to the fighting. She came back with Emerald whom shook her head at the two of them. "Diamond, Jade, I'm disappointed in you both. We hold this feast every year to have fun and even bend the rules a little. But here you are arguing and it's ruining the festival for others. Could you please put it off until tomorrow?" "See? With Sakura that means you are outnumbered." Sapphire said. "Besides pouncing my apple was kind of cute" she smiled. "You mean well; but be more careful." Diamond said to Sakura before leaving to patrol the dance floor. Emerald took Sapphire and pulled her back to the dance floor to leave the twins alone. "You didn't need to do that." Jade said with a frown. "Back stiff as stone. Left to become unmoving, needed to soften." Sakura said cheerfully. Jade rolled her eyes, but didn't have time to respond before they were joined by someone else.
Rose approached the twins after she saw what happened. She gave the younger twin a gentle hug and pointed to her raising an eyebrow. "Not yet cracked" Sakura replied giggling at Rose's question. Rose just responded by grabbing another apple and showing it to Sakura. "The mind blackens; what's fallen to be captured." Sakura giggled. Rose smiled at her; she was always so good at figuring out what Rose wanted to say. She glanced at the others that were still dancing and offered her hand to Sakura. The child took it; but instead of dancing slowly like everyone else Rose swung Sakura around causing the girl to squeal with delight. It didn't last long before a disapproving Jade came to take Sakura back to the dance floor. Rose was having so much fun that she felt like she could have gone at it all night; quickly she moved back to Lily started back up with her. Despite Lily's best efforts not to have fun Rose could see that she was starting to enjoy it too. But Lily acted like she wasn't allowed to. This lasted until she could see that Lily was starting to get tired; reluctantly Rose let go and went towards the table for something to eat. "Those are beautiful dresses!" Violet said cheerfully looking at the twins. "Holly really did a good job on them this year" she added. Sakura broke from her dance with Jade to give the storyteller a hug, and returned to her twin sister's side. "Rose's too." Violet said looking at Holly. Rose smiled at them both, Violet wouldn't be the only one to compliment on the dresses Holly made them that night. And Rose thought that she deserved it. Rose loved her dress, if she wasn't afraid of ruining it, shed wear it almost every day after the festival was done. Rose made it to the food tables where she saw Sapphire was still standing. She tapped on Sapphires shoulder and gave her the same raised eyebrow she gave Sakura. "Am I in your way?" Sapphire guessed. Rose shook her head and pointed to Sapphire; then pointed to where Sakura was standing. "You want me to dance with Sakura?" Sapphire tried again. Rose let off a sigh; if only the rest of the girls had the twin's talent for understanding her. She had to think for a while about another way to ask if Sapphire was ok; but nothing was coming to her. She was about to try again when she spotted Diamond coming by on her patrol. She gave Sapphire a polite curtsey and walked over to Diamond. "Good evening Rose." Diamond said. Rose smiled at her. She briefly dropped the smile to give Diamond a disapproving look; one like Diamond herself used when someone broke the rules. She pointed to her; then pointed to where Jade and Sakura were. "You think I was too hard on them?" Diamond guessed. After Rose nodded she continued. "I was thinking that myself" she admitted. Rose's smile returned and she grabbed the older girls arm; almost dragging her back to where Jade and Sakura were. Jade was about to speak when Sakura; still smiling shook her head. Rose gave Diamond a gentle push towards the twins; while almost getting the same idea Sakura pushed Jade towards Diamond. "I will not apologize for trying to keep the festival safe for everyone. But I regret coming off so strongly." Diamond stated. "Sakura wasn't trying to hurt anyone. She says that when the apple fell. She couldn't help herself. She just had to catch it. I understand; I have had that same temptation when I see something move suddenly." Jade replied. "I can't say that I understand that temptation. All I ask is that you try to be careful when you get it. And I will not bring up her past accidents again." Diamond promised. Sakura smiled and gave the older girl a tight hug; she didn't let go until Diamond started returning it. "I would say she accepts." Jade commented. Feeling that everything was fine now. Rose wandered away to enjoy the rest of the party. The ball lasted for most of the night, until the girls got tired and retreated to the common room. It was the one night of the year, they ignored the castle's fifth rule about sleeping in their own rooms. On this night, they shared the common room and talked until they fell asleep.

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