A Moon Hidden Behind Clouds
A cloudless night with a full moon.
And if possible, with a gentle autumn breeze.
It was fortunate that the best conditions for moonweaving were met ten days before the ceremony.
The moonlight fell upon the fingertips of my right hand, continuing on to twine around the spindle I’d fashioned out of a tree’s branch.
I disliked how formal and stiff the etiquette I learned back in my hometown was, but this part was something I liked.
Turning into thread, the moonlight shone like a star within the darkness, strengthening each time I wound it around the spindle.
The fogginess in my mind cleared up bit by bit as I continued focusing on its glittering.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to lose yourself in the moment.
But even so…
“Are you going to come out?”
When I looked over to the cause of that fogginess, he walked out from behind the tree he’d been trying to hide behind.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you…”
Not noticing him would have been hard.
Covered with red scales, he was big enough to look like he could eat me in a single bite. There’s no way that his gaudiness would be able to hide behind a tree like that.
“Woah, that’s… you’re turning moonlight into thread?”
Responding slightly apathetically, I didn’t stop moving my hands round and round.
“The materialization of energy… so that’s possible too? I’ve heard of traditions where exposing thread to moonlight would impart a mystical power to it, but for moonlight itself to become the thread…”
As usual, he muttered something unintelligible and was impressed by something I didn’t understand much at all.
“Nina, could it be that you made your clothes from that thread, too?”
“Obviously not. I wove them from the wind.”
There’s no way moonthread could be used for everyday clothing. He wore a strange expression when I responded to his question with common sense.
“Could I watch you weave it?”
It wouldn’t be as bad if he wanted to see me do the spinning part, but weaving it takes a lot of concentration.
Just imagining him stare at me while weaving makes me feel tired.
“Could it be that you’re supposed to be alone when you perform the weaving?”
“What sort of custom’s that? I just hate being distracted.”
This guy says strange things a lot.
Are all dragons like him? I can’t tell if it’s just him being weird since I haven’t met any other dragons…
“Really? That’s great. I would’ve been really embarrassed if you said I shouldn’t be here.”
Yeah no, he has to be super weird even among dragons.
I mean come on. This weird guy says so many strange things.
“The thread ripped…”
“Eh, w-was that my fault?”
Of course it was. I scowled at him.
Moonthread is thin and fragile, it’ll break immediately if you stop concentrating on it.
“What will you do?”
“There’s nothing that can be done, it’s too short to make into clothing.”
Separate strands of moonthread can’t be strung together, so I’ll just have to start over. When I’d unfastened the half-spindle of thread, the dragon stared at it intently.
“Such a waste, it’s so beautiful.”
He’s saying something like that as nonchalantly as ever. He probably doesn’t even know the meaning behind what he said there.
He may know a lot of words, but I don’t think he really understands their nuances.
“I’ll give you it if you want.”
“Even if you did, my paws wouldn’t be able to… oh, right.”
The dragon suddenly realized something as he looked at the thread.
“Could I ask for a favor?”
＊ ＊ ＊
“Be it when you’re healthy, sick, happy, or sad, do you swear to cherish, honor, comfort, and support him to the best of your abilities so long as you both may live?”
I turned to Ai and recited the words he’d taught me.
No matter how I look at it, I can’t believe that he’d thought up such a refined phrase by himself.
Her voice serene, Ai responded as such. Her face couldn’t be seen as it was covered by mooncloth.
His request was for me to weave that short thread into a cloth that could cover her face.
He said it’s called a veil, but I don’t get what that means exactly.
“Then—seal your vow with a kiss.”
He asked for a favor, but it ended up with me being the one performing the rites.
Doing as I said, he gently lifted Ai’s veil up.
At that moment, I understood the meaning behind the cloth.
Hidden behind that cloth, Ai’s face was so beautiful that I was taken aback.
Even though what was hiding her face was a cloth made from the moon’s light, appearing from behind that veil, her face much, much, much more beautiful than even the moon itself appearing from behind the clouds.
With her cheeks blushing pink, her eyes were clouded with tears. Her smile was lax, like her elation had truly brought her above the clouds.
Her beauty was enough to make me think that she was definitely the most beautiful in the world.
And he, looking at her, was by far the most gentle.
I’ve been thinking that it would be great if they hurried up and did this, believing it to be something that had to happen… but now that it has, why won’t my heart stop stirring?
Ai reached out to his face, bringing it closer to hers until they touched nose-to-nose.
“Here, I declare that a new couple is born.”
Somehow, I managed to say it. Cheers and applause giving their blessings poured out from everyone.
I feel happy. I’m glad, even. But why… why can’t I catch my breath? Why is there a pit in my chest?
Is there a name for this feeling, too?
He’d probably know one.
But seeing Ai smile like a flower blooming in the spring, I felt that I should wait a long time before asking that walking dictionary of a dragon about it.