Okay, guys, my computer has wiped this chapter THREE TIMES. Yeah. And I'm leaving for Japan for 6 weeks this Saturday. So here's what I have, and I'll try to get a lot more up as soon as I get back. Sorry, guys.

The persistent tickling of sunlight on his face eventually roused Tannis. Market day, he thought with a sigh. Why does it have to be market day? He despised market days. Unable to help his father for fear of ruining his frail image, he was condemned to wander from stall to stall with no real purpose, envying those with the freedom to run, to jump, to be normal, healthy children. The fact that he was a normal, healthy child only made it that much harder to bear. But he couldn't be like them. He could never be an energetic youth filled with life and vigor. Not if he wanted the visions to stay a secret. But the temptation was strong, and every time it grew harder to ignore. The warm grass called out to his feet, the breezes begged to whistle past his ears, and the trees pleaded to be climbed. And so Tannis found other things to occupy his time, to drown out the clamoring demands the day made of him. Demands he knew he could never meet.

His mother helped him cope with that, albeit unknowingly. She was always grateful for a willing pair of hands to fetch, measure, cut, pin, clean, organize, deliver, and anything else that required only basic motor skills and common sense. The blessing of having an overworked mother only went so far, of course. A fifteen-year-old boy was not expected to help with such obviously feminine tasks, nor was he thought well of for it. Tannis' standing among his contemporaries was on shaky enough ground as it was, without adding this unnecessary display of affection toward his family to the sum. Not being able to prove himself in matters of sport, and unwilling to chase skirts with the enthusiasm showed by his peers, Tannis stood on tolerance and the occasional sympathetic companion. Perhaps if he had been more eager to cast off his family, to live with a surly twist to his mouth and a lusty sparkle in his eyes, his reputation would fare better among the lads of the village. But he was already pretending to be something, why add more to the deception? He loved his family and that was that. Even if it did kill him inside to lie to them.

Tannis rolled over with a groan. No sense in putting it off any further. Market day would come whether he liked it or not, much like the taunts and jeers of the village youths. And as he grew older, he had developed a sort of resistance to it, but that didn't make the day enjoyable. And the fact that the day wasn't enjoyable didn't make it go away, he reminded himself. Reluctantly, he swung his feet out from their shelter and into the warm morning air. At least it was June, he thought, determinedly optimistic. No freezing floors in June. And he really had no excuse to be lazing about. The mists hadn't come for a week and a half, so recently Tannis had been oddly refreshed.

"Tannis?" his mother's gentle knock had gone unnoticed. "Tannis, are you abed still? I've work for you, lad. Come now, up!" Her voice, usually lilting and soft, had risen with the last sentence, effectively shooing off the remaining sleep fuzz clouding his mind.

Groggily, the boy threw off his light coverlet – and even that was almost too hot, with the solstice fast approaching – and sat up. Blinked. Once, then twice. His room still looked hazy, but that was to be expected. He had never been quick to wake.

His door flew open, and Tannis belatedly realized he had yet to answer his mother's calls. He scrambled for the cover as his mother ducked her head in, reared like a colt, and swung back out. Tannis stood, finally woken completely, and began to dress. From outside his door he could hear his father cheery laughter, and his mother's halfhearted rebuke. He was pulling on his breeches when his father's voice, still flavored with amusement, sounded from outside his door.

"Lad, are you decent? You gave your mother quite the fright, you know," his father started to laugh again. "The least you could do is wear a light shirt to bed, boy!"

"Too hot for even that," Tannis muttered.

"Very true, very true. Well then, in the future, would you do your mother the kindness of answering her call? I don't think her heart could take this sort of exercise again."

Tannis could hear the playful slap, and his father's growled, "What was that for, woman?" The boy sighed. Sometimes he thought his parents were younger than he was, the way they carried on. Finally dressed, he pulled open his door and sighed. He had almost forgotten what today was. Now it all came rushing back to him. Market day. Oh, joy.