Chestnut let herself glide to the forest floor, giddily happy over her night’s efforts. She had only been gliding for a little over a moon, but she was getting better and better. This night had been especially fun. She and her mother had flown together a while, and her mother had encouraged her to see how much she could push herself, pointing out that Chestnut’s powers would strengthen as she worked them. Chestnut had turned back when she thought she couldn’t go further and still make it back. Stormdancer had gone on, and was probably not coming back that night.
Chestnut had returned to the area near the Holt and had let herself practice again and again, resting on branches high in the canopy. Though she had flown with her mother as a child, the view from above seemed even more spectacular now that she could fly herself. The lilac haze of her magic made that view even better. The sunrise was brighter, it seemed, but more beautiful.
Chestnut walked toward the Dentrees, almost in a daze. She was exhausted, and smiling broadly. It had been the best night of her life, she decided. It couldn’t get any better. As Chestnut walked, she tried lifting smaller objects, like rocks and leaves, from the ground. She enjoyed seeing her powers in action. And the glow of her magic, she thought, was beautiful. It wasn’t quite the same shade of purple as her mother’s... Stormdancer’s was a deeper purple... but Chestnut liked it.
When she arrived at the Dentrees, Chestnut wasn’t quite ready for sleep. Stoneback was sitting on the steps near the Gathering Den, holding a piece of clay in his hands. Seemed he was shaping something - most likely a stone figure for Songsent. Chestnut watched happily as his pinkish magic glowed around the figure he was making. She remembered how, when she was a child, the elder would make toys and figures for her.
“Hello, pretty bird,” Stoneback said cheerfully, looking up from his work. “The sun is up already. I didn’t expect to have company.”
Chestnut grinned, “I’ve been too busy to sleep. And there’s too much going through my mind right now to get any good sleep.”
“I’ll bet there’s a cure for that,” he said with a smile. “Birch came looking for you a while ago. He said to ask you to join him in his den... if you wanted to.” The rockshaper winked at her.
Chestnut blushed. Birch had been the one she first shared furs with. She had been shy, but he had encouraged her, and she had found that she... enjoyed his company. But she wasn’t ready for sleep - not yet. She shook her head, answering Birch’s request to herself.
“Not tired enough yet, eh?” Stoneback asked.
“No... mind if I sit here with you a while?”
Stoneback shrugged. “You know you’re always welcome, Chestnut!” He finished his work on the stone wolf, and set it aside. Then he pulled out a skin of dreamberry wine. He took a long drink, then handed the skin to Chestnut. “Want some?”
She smiled. She rarely ate dreamberries, let alone had the wine. But... if she was going to stay up talking with Stoneback, it could be fun. Besides, he was a good storyteller. She took the skin and started drinking.
“You tell good stories,” Chestnut said, looking up at Stoneback’s face. She had lain back and put her head in his lap so that she could better listen to him without the fear of falling over.
**Thank you,** he sent. He had started sending after the first story, and had sent for most of the morning, sharing stories and tales as they drank together.
The sun was high overhead. “I... think I should probably go and sleep,” Chestnut decided out loud. “It’s getting late.”
**Or early,** he retorted, **Depends on how you look at it.**
“True, but that makes my head hurt. Too much thinking,” Chestnut said as she tried to push herself to standing.
When she was halfway up, she pitched forward, off balance. Stoneback reached out toward her, trying to catch and steady her, but he was off-balance as well. Stoneback fell forward as well, falling into Chestnut. She realized what was happening and urged her powers to work, just to keep herself from the ground and out of Stoneback’s way.
He fell to the ground with a thud, and she was floating above him as he rolled over and looked up at her. She laughed. **Pretty purple,** he sent, laughing as he referred to the glow around her. He pushed himself up to sitting, then stood and met her gaze, smiling.
She giggled, then twirled. “I like purple,” she said quietly. “It’s my magic. It lifts me... and it can lift pebbles, and leaves...” her voice trailed off. She felt heat rush to her face at her next thought.
“What else can it lift?” Stoneback asked with a grin.
Chestnut leaned in and whispered her playful answer in his ear. She floated out of reach and giggled, then he looked down. He laughed.
**Join me?** Chestnut asked, heading up the steps.