A Winterfest Waltz

Linda Liberski

Candles twinkled in every corner of the great hall casting magical, flickering shadows along the walls and antique tapestries. A fiddle played a lively tune. William was at the buffet table refilling the burgeoning trays for perhaps the tenth time. Father and Peter were in the corner playing a spirited game of chess. Mouse was at the fire showing Jamie, for perhaps the fifteenth time, what a wonderful invention popcorn was, because it exploded! And almost as good as that, Father didnít even mind the explosion and it tasted "gooder than good," better than best," especially when it was warm, salted and dripping with butter. Couples danced in a swirl of color in their tunnelwear best. But all of the sights and sounds of Winterfest paled in Catherineís eyes. She and Vincent were in the middle of the dance floor, dancing on air. Vincent was the only thing she could see, frankly the only thing she wanted to see, for now and forever. They had been dancing for hours but time seemed suspended. There was no past, at least not without Vincent. The future and all of its promise was somewhere ahead in a happy haze. All she knew was that she was lost in the depths of his sapphire blue eyes, that thanks to Mary and her needlework, matched his blue velvet vest perfectly. Catherine thought Vincent had never looked so handsome with the golden highlights of his hair glowing softly in the candlelight.

His delighted smile, the way his eyes crinkled up at the corners and the way his hand protectively cradled her back told the whole story. She was his at last. He had had his doubts through the years, and their relationship moved at a snailís pace because he couldnít believe in himself. He couldnít believe that a beautiful, wonderful woman like that could ever want someone like him. But Catherine had finally gotten through. In some ways, she mused, Vincent could be even more hardheaded than Father, but she had finally convinced him that they were meant to be together. They were each incomplete without the other, so he might as well face it and revel in their blessings and good fortune in finding each other.

The music ended and they made their way to the edge of the dance floor, Mary breezed by offering cups of apple cider and our favorite couple gratefully took some. Although the Great Hall was cool they had become overheated. Vincent took Catherineís arm and steered her through the crowd and up the staircase. Grabbing his cloak as they walked through the room, he quickly looked over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching. He parted one of the tapestries and guided her though a secret door.

Catherine found herself in a chilly dark passage with only a gentle promise of light far down the tunnel. She felt Vincentís strong arm around her and she felt safe. "I never knew about this tunnel Vincent" she said.

"Very few people do" he replied with a smile in his voice.

Eventually the passage ended with a door of iron bars, Vincent easily swung the heavy bars aside and before she knew it Catherine stood in an isolated area of the park. The snow swirled lightly, feather soft around them. She shivered and with one great sweep of his arm Vincent took the cloak from his own strong shoulders and wrapped it around his Catherine cocooning her in his warmth deep within the depths of the cloak.

For a time they just stood together and watched the snow as Catherine burrowed closer to her love, she wasnít cold anymore, but she reveled in feeling him near to her.

Vincent cocked his head in that funny little way and said, "Listen, can you hear the snow Catherine?"

She started to laugh. "Itís snow Vincent, it doesnít make a sound!"

His blue eyes sparkled, "It does not? Then what do I hear? Just hold your breath and listen."

Catherine did what she was told and after a few moments she looked at Vincent in startled disbelief. "It does make a sound! Itís like a thousand tiny crystals of a chandelier tinkling all around! Iíve never heard anything like it! Vincent, do you mean to tell me that snow has always sounded like this and Iíve never heard its beautiful music before?"

"Catherine my love, the magic cannot be heard with the sounds of the city all around, it is only when you are in a very quiet place and listen with your heart that you can hear the magic."

Vincent thought his Catherine had never looked quite so beautiful standing there in the snow. The gentle flakes were starting to gather in her hair, her eyelashes and her face. As if being serenaded by an unseen orchestra, they both started to waltz and sway to music heard only by their love for each other flowing through the bond. They danced among the swirling snowflakes until they were one with the snow and the park. They paused and almost without thinking he reached out his hand and gently ran his fingers through her hair, over her ears, that scar she refused to have removed, over her cheek and cupped her chin. Her green eyes looked up at him as he leaned forward and teasingly kissed her forehead, her eyelashes, the tip of her nose, and finally her lips. Catherine felt the whole world spin. As many times as they kissed, it was always the same, pure bliss!

The snow continued to swirl gently around them. Finally they turned and slowly walked back to the tunnel entrance, back to the warm glow of the candle light that matched the warm glow of the love they shared in their hearts. But unlike the candles of Winterfest, their flame of love would never be extinguished.