By Anna. J. Thomas
‘Hello you.’ Dathan kissed the top of her head. ‘Let me put my coat and tools away I’ve only just got in.’
‘Sorry, Daddy.’ She said still smiling.
‘Hey, there is no need to be sorry, I am glad you are happy to see me. Just let me put my things away first and then I can come into the sitting room and see you and your mother properly eh?’
‘Okay daddy. Daddy, will you be telling my stories later?’ Alina stood on the spot, looking up to her father’s face expectantly.
‘Yes, of course I will be doing your stories later. In fact if you go to your room and get ready for bed then I will be in very soon to do your stories okay? I want to say hello to your mother first though.’
‘Okay, and then stories right. I can be ready before you have finished speaking to mummy’ Alina looked up again and smiled.
‘Then stories, now off you go. It’s not a race you know.’ Dathan ushered her to her room, Alina skipped away excited that her father was home, and that very soon she would get her stories.
‘Well it is to be expected, we are rather close to Valane’s day now, she is very excited and very excitable as well.’ Eirian gave a small smile, though she was clearly tired.
‘Well, I think she is also very tired, which is a good thing, at least she will sleep. I will go and tell her her stories and then we can get the last minute prep work done ready for the big day. I don’t want to be leaving too much until the day before.’
‘I agree.’ Eirian spoke quietly. ‘We will have some visitors on the big day anyway, it’s a good excuse to have everything ready. I will go and check on supper while you are telling Alina your stories.
‘Oh don’t think that I’ll be that long, I’ll come out and help you when I have finished. She looks exhausted so she may be asleep before I begin to talk.’
‘You underestimate how much she likes your stories dear. She’ll try to stay awake as long as she can, you know what she’s like.’ Eirian stifled a giggle.
‘See daddy, I have moved it already for you. I helped didn’t I?’ Alina pointed to the chair.
‘Very helpful my darling, now what story would you like this evening?’ Dathan asked in a voice that suggested that he knew what she would ask for.
‘Do you know any good Valane’s day stories. One that I have not heard before.’ she asked excitedly.
‘Some how I knew you would ask that, and its just as well that I have the perfect story in mind. I hope you are comfortable?’
Alina nodded and waited for her father to begin. Dathan noticed that her eyes were flickering open and shut even now. He would have to make this story a short one.
Now some years after his death the people decided that there should be one day of the year when they would celebrate his reign. Accession day seemed a good choice, but they went for much later in the winter instead, toward the end of the year. They knew that the people would want to get involved in the celebrations, but no one could have predicted that it would go as well as it did. There was one thing that made the celebrations even more special though.
Everyone in the city got together on the appointed day, there were festivals, street parties, fairs, everyone had gotten together despite the cold, despite any problems that they may have had and they celebrated together. No-one could have asked for a better day. All the children ran between the different attractions and tables, the city had been decorated in the most beautiful ornate banners and flyers, even houses had been decorated for the event, mainly paper decorations, but the fancy ones came later. It was the children that noticed it first, it is always the children that notice it first, the small flecks falling from the sky. They did not recognise the significance of the event, but they did not care, they ran about hands in the air hoping that the flakes would fall on their gloves. Some children even had their tongues out, they wanted to taste the snow. The grown ups huddled together in their couples or families, but they did not go inside, even as the snow got heavier; for them nothing could have made the day more perfect. Perhaps this is why the king had loved the snow so much. Everyone was together, all their concerns gone, and the childlikeness that they had almost forgotten surfaced as the flakes fell from the sky.
That was the first Valane’s day. It has been people’s great wish every year since that it would snow close to or on the day. It has been a long time since we have seen any snow in Vareah, we never got it much before that day either, but now it is part of the celebrations and it gives the people hope, it brings them together.’
Dathan pulled up the covers slightly closer to Alina’s chin so that she did not get cold in the night and left the room.
‘What is it, is everything alright?’ Dathan asked Eirian.
‘Of course it is, but come with me, there is something that I would like to show you.’ Eirain took Dathan’s hand and led him toward the door. She had left it wide open and he could feel the cold seeping in to the room. Eirian, stopping at the door and motioning toward the sky, turned and took in the serene and contented look on Dathan’s face. Every year they hoped that this would happen close to Valane’s day and there it was, flakes of snow falling from the sky, getting heavier and heavier the longer they watched.
‘Alina will be pleased. It will be the first time she will have properly seen it, and fitting too so close to the holidays.’ Dathan gathered Eirian into his arms as they continued to watch the snow, now sticking to the ground. There would be a lovely white blanket of it by morning. This year, snow would not be just a dream for the people of Vareah.