On golden midnight, two sisters will fall in love and cause the return of dragons.
What utter garbage.
When I was born (five seconds before my sister, mind you), the midwife was almost frightened. “That girl’s got a battle in her,” were her exact words when she saw the black and silver streaking through my too-long hair, the translucent paleness to my skin, “I’m not sure we’ll like the outcome.” But my eyes opened soon after to see the cold world I had been forced into, and both she and my mother were taken by the sparkling blues that I’ve been told, “swirled like northern lights.”
When my sister was born, she seemed every bit the perfect baby, the midwife cooed and fawned over perfect skin, the blonde hair that dusted her scalp. Then she opened her eyes, and the midwife screamed.
“A demon! Woman, you best desert that child for the fae, lest you damn us all!” She all but threw Ali onto my mother's lap before running from the room. Ali began to cry, wailing her complaints over the loss of the midwife’s warmth and my mother scooped her up with me.
Our father tells us that he came in after seeing the midwife scramble out the door, muttering prayers and warnings. “I came in just in time to see your dear mother begin to sing her song, but it seemed like you two had other things on your minds.”
He says that while our mother sang our first lullaby, Ali and I were reaching for each other, with an intent in our already wide eyes. The moment our hands touched, my father says, my mother began to glow, and her song changed from a lighthearted tune about bunnies and kittens in a game of tag into something more sinister.
Prophecies aren’t an odd thing in my town, not by a long shot. There are three Oracles in my neighborhood alone, and it seems like everywhere I turn, there’s some tourist, pilgrim, or paranoid king with a pregnant wife looking for an Oracle to tell them their fate.
So, no, the “prophecy” my mom started muttering when Ali and my hands touched wasn’t all that odd. The problem was that my mom wasn’t an Oracle.
Oracles are necessary for prophecies to happen; the only times someone who isn’t an Oracle is possessed by a prophecy is when the person prophesied is…special.
A destined one. Or rather two, in my and Ali’s case.
I’ve heard it all when I walk down the street. The awe, the wonder.
“It’s one of those destined twins…”
“That’s one of those prophecy girls.”
“Look Mommy, it’s one of those magic girls!”
Honestly, I really prefer the insults, the skeptics, the doubters.
“I hear that their momma just made it up for attention.”
“No way that girl is a destined one. Her sister, I get. At least she’s pretty.”
Ali likes to complain that the skeptics are just jealous that we got a cool prophecy and for free, but I take comfort that I’m not the only one who doesn’t believe this nonsense.
Of course, Ali believes it all. She notices everyone and thinks that they might be her or especially my soulmate.
“Oooh, he’s cute. And those eyes, smoldering. Ay, Ayla?”
“What about her? She’s got a book; you like books.”
“What about them? Hey, person! Yeah, you! In the blue shawl that compliments my sisters eyes! Are you dating anyone?”
She has walls and books dedicated to the prophecy.
I do too, but for a much different reason.
At first, I thought it was pure nonsense that my mom spit out when she forgot the lullaby she was singing; dragons, a golden midnight? It was nonsensical at best, insane at worst. Dragons tended to live in wilder areas, close to kingdoms, not near tiny towns surrounded by mountains.
But, after a little research, I learned that dragons used to live just about everywhere, as shapeshifters, that most of the more magical creatures’ lineage could be traced back to a dragon.
People knew that dragons could live among them, that any passing stranger, best friend, or even stray cat could be a powerful, magical being. They knew that dragons could be born to any two human people. They just didn’t mind. Dragons were often some of the most helpful people in the community, their extended lifespan made them important members of wherever they lived, often becoming town elders, or other positions of political importance.
Eventually, somehow, the shapeshifting qualities of dragons stopped being so well known, as well as the birth of dragons from non-dragons. Only a few close lovers ever discovered their spouse was a dragon, and more often than not, they remained loyal to their love, and kept it a secret. A few dragons, however, would reveal their secret in their will, for after they “died.” They didn’t actually die, just returned to their original form for a few decades before visiting another small town.
Dragons in human form could be recognized by a few simple traits. Oftentimes, dragons were especially strong, beautiful, or wise. Sometimes any combination of the three. The point is, a dragon masquerading as a human was easy to spot; just look for the person who’s a little too perfect or a little too odd.
So no, the dragon part isn’t out there. Dragons have been all over for as long as they’ve existed.
But golden midnight?
My sister thinks its obvious. A few years after we were born, two wild horses came crashing through the town, causing a ruckus. Since our father was the town's best hunter and trapper, he was enlisted to capture them, and if he could, he would be allowed to do whatever he wished with them.
He kept them and gave them to us on our sixth birthday. I forgot to get Ali a gift, so I told her she could name both of them.
She named them “Golden,” and “Midnight.”
“One day, we’ll both go out riding and meet two beautiful strangers who will take us to meet the dragons and the power of true love will convince them to rejoin society!” She gushed, leaning on a fence.
“That’s bullcrap.” I replied.
So, that’s how we got to where we are now. Just barely adults, still living with our parents, because there are no new houses available. I go to keep books at the bank, and Ali goes to work with our dad at the mill, because heaven knows she has enough energy for it.
At sunset, we meet up and stop at home for me to change out of my stuffy uniform, and for Ali to change into something more showy. She goes out dancing until midnight to find the love the prophecy tells her she’ll find, and I go to the library to find proof of why that isn’t true.
I’m perusing the back shelves, reaching for a book called “Dragons of the Stars; Where Did YOU Think They Went?”
Her fingers had just grazed the shining cover when another hand landed directly on top of hers.
“Excuse me, but this book is mine.” Her voice was cold, hoping to intimidate this stranger away from conversation.
“Oh, my bad. It’s all yours. Finders keepers and all that.” He put his hands up, with a sheepish grin, and I took a quick look at him.
He had auburn hair, draping over his head in waves and curls. He was tall, taller than me and gangly. He was pale too, extraordinarily, almost sickly pale. His eyes, though, his eyes were a captivating violet, that almost seemed to jolt in his irises.
“Thank you.” I pick up the book and begin walking to the desk I had left all my research on. He followed me, chattering away.
“I’m curious, what exactly do you need that book for? Maybe we need it for the same reason?” He tucked his arms behind his back, strolling nonchalantly along.
“I don’t need it, I want it.” I set the book down and pull out a blank sheet of paper for notes. “And I highly doubt we want it for the same reason.”
He laughed. “You mean you don’t need it to convince your brother that the prophecy that’s been hanging over your heads since birth is complete nonsense? And here I thought that-” He caught my eye and froze.
We stared at each other for a few seconds before he slammed his hands on the desk. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You have a dragon prophecy too?”
“I didn’t know there were multiple! ‘On golden midnight, two-’”
“Sisters will fall in love and cause the return of dragons.” I finished.
“Well, brothers in my case, but yeah!” His eyes were wide as saucers and he kept glancing at my piles of research. “Is- is this all research on the prophecy?”
“I’m still skeptical that it is a prophecy, but yes.” I smile at the mounds of paper.
“Can we compare notes?” He grabbed my forearms and stared intently in my eyes.
“Of course, mine are more than a little…. disorganized, so good luck.”
“I wish you the same.” He pulled out handfuls of crumpled paper from a bag hanging from his shoulder.
Hours later, we left the library with a bit more information than we had before.
I learned that his name was Therwin and his brother, Ad, was a staunch believer in all destiny and prophecies despite being a very logical person .
“I just don’t get it! I tell him someone likes him, and he needs a full essay on the observations that imply they like him. But our mom says some nonsense when she’s delirious from labor, and it’s suddenly gospel!”
I told him all about Ali, and how she’s essentially party addicted.
“I swear, everyday she finds a different party to go to. Yesterday it was Gera Bloom’s place, today it’s the barn behind the Flions’ farm.” I laugh, but I’m cut off by the stunned look on Therwins face.
“The purple barn?”
“That’s the same party Ad’s going to…”
We’re still discussing our theories and our twins, the worry of the prophecy coming true behind every word.
“I still don’t have anything on the ‘golden midnight.’ Did you find anything in that book?”
“No, but I have realized one thing.” I glanced at him as the bell struck its midnight toll.
“If your brother and my sister met at that party, and they didn’t fall in love like us…”
“There’s no way Ad’s allowed to meet you.” Therwin finished, horror in his eyes.
“Or let Ali meet you. You’re just her type too, and she’s so sweet; no way you two won’t fall for each other.”
“And as long as we don’t know what golden midnight means…”
“There’s still a risk.”
We shook hands by the corner, and parted ways, promising to meet again the next night. It was the first meet up of many. We would spend part of that researching astronomy and what ‘golden midnight’ could possibly mean. The rest of our night was spent laughing at Ali and Ad’s increasingly hairbrained schemes to make us meet the other.
Eventually, we started talking about our other likes and dislikes, things that made us mad, happy, anxious. We became friends.
One evening, a little before sunset, I was stuck on clerk duty at the bank, and I wasn’t going to be able to get to the library in time to meet with Therwin like I usually do.
The little bell at the door rang and I gave a tired smile.
“Hello, how can I help yo- Therwin?”
He lit up and ran to the desk, grabbing my arms like he did so often when he got excited.
“Ayla! You work here!”
“Yeah, I’m usually in the back.”
“It’s so nice to see you! When do you get off work?”
“Sunset; you can wait here if you want.”
“Sure thing!” He hopped up onto the counter and began chatting away like we were at the library.
A few minutes later and I clocked out. Therwin, the touchy person he was, grabbed my hand and began walking with me to my house to get our research.
“So, like I was saying, it was just so pretty, I had to find a way to show it to you, so Ad grabbed a pickaxe and chopped off two pieces for us.” He let go of my hand and held out a fragment of crystal that sparkled purple, grey, and red.
It was perfect. I glanced at him, his eyes were nearly sparking, he was so excited. He was perfect, his hair a perfect match to the golden tone shone from the setting sun.
Before I knew what was happening, I leaned in to kiss him, my lips pressing into his with a gentleness that I didn’t know I possessed.
He cupped his hand against my chin, and with the hand that held the gem, took mine. We stayed like that for a while, just standing in the sunlight, holding each other.
Then the bell began to ring.
One, two, three times all the way to twelve. The goofy look on Therwin’s face vanished as the twelfth chime tolled.
“Ayla, that’s the midnight bell.”
“Yes, they were doing maintenance on the clock today.”
“No, Ayla. Midnight. Gold.” He gestured to the fading light around us.
“Golden midnight…” I pulled the hand I was holding and began running to my house; surely, if Ali was anywhere she would be there.
And there she was, trapped in a kiss from a stocky boy a little shorter than her.
“Ad!” Therwin shouted, waving his free hand. “This is Ayla! We’re in love!”
“Ali,” I smiled as the two parted, “this is Therwin. As he said, we’re in love, and golden midnight happened just a few minutes ago.”
“EEEEEEE!” Ali squealed and pulled me into a powerful hug. “I knew it! I knew the prophecy was true!”
“It’s not entirely true,” Therwin protested, accepting a handshake from his brother, “we still don’t know where the dragons are.”
“Actually,” I tapped beneath my eye, “I have an idea…”
Therwin knew what I was talking about right away and he nodded, defeat in his eyes.
Ali glanced back and forth between the two of us comically. “What do you-” She was cut off by a mighty hiccup.
A hiccup that sent fire shooting an inch from my head.