There is a dance that is performed by the Khanid. An ancient dance that heralds the coming of Winter and hints of the spring to come as winter ends. It is known simply as the Dance of the Tranquil Winter, and is one of the most demanding dances.
To perform properly the dancer needs to have exquisite timing, absolute muscle control, and flawless perfection. Danced in conjunction with the music, and with the snapping and positioning of fans, there are few who have mastered the dance.
There are those who use the dance as a rite of passage, when dedicating themselves to a greater cause than their own.
Carmilla danced. Not just for herself, but for Ithiria. And for Mizhara. She had danced this before, for Ithiria, when she had rededicated herself. Each movement perfection, her timing flawless, making it looks so simple. She had danced this for Ithiria twice before, and now she danced again, perhaps the most important of her life. Certainly the one she would remember for years to come.
Ithiria had recognised it as soon as she took the fans from the wall, and when she had finished dancing she had asked the question she had hoped for. And she had replied, truthfully.
Ithiria sitting next to her Wife, watching the woman who had lost so much dancing before her and her wife. Watching her hold the final position she spoke softly.
"Carmila twitch the right fan if this is happiness and things are never forgotten, left fan if trying to dedicate yourself to me and Miz."
She watched Carm in the final pose, the one known as winters end, both fans extended upwards, twitch both fans, then staying perfectly still. They both looked at each other.
"Do you know what you are doing?"
"And is your heart true, child?"
"You have said this before. To both of us."
"But never.... to you both... together..."
And so they had agreed, with Ithiria fastening a necklace around Carmilla's neck, a sign of her submission to them both. Not one more than the other, both equally. And still, all the time holding the pose, the Winters End, strain palpable, but never changing her expression, or showing any signs of weariness. That would be an instant failure for her, and show them both she was not strong enough.
Little more than a whisper, Ithiria, her Mistress, said a single word. 'Begin'. And in a fluid movement she returned to the starting pose and began to dance again, the most perfect dance she could, showing her dedication and ability, the obedience and perfection, and even with the strain, performing it flawlessly. Performing for her Mistresses.
Winters end, a new year beckons, a new chapter. Inwardly, so as not to spoil her mask, Carmilla smiled with happiness.