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Radovin walked up to her, making just enough noise with his feet so that he wouldn't startle her, and lowered himself to the ground nearby. He sat still, hands folded over his crossed ankles.

At last she spoke. "Did Lovo send you back to look for me?"

"No. I had to stop for something. I just wondered...that you didn't catch up."

Zhamavi sighed. "Summer...." She lifted her head and looked off over the trail that the rest of the band had made, and beyond. "You look forward to seeing all your friends again, ah?"

"Yeah." Radovin shrugged, holding back a grin. He was, for sure. Last summer he had been to his first Summermeet in some years. It had been a pretty crazy time, but the best part of it was finding out how many friends he could have. After years of living under the stigma of a bad-luck curse and spending the heart of summer alone, it was like the miracle of spring all over again. "You do too, ah?"

"I used to, Rado. I used to. But every year more of them are gone." She shook her head and let it droop again.

He could see how it might be hard to look forward to, a festive gathering riddled with dark holes of memory. Many people that Zhamavi had known all her life had died in the great sickness that took most of the band Radovin had been born to, and this was only the third summer since the death of her true-mate of many years. Ludoven had been headman of the White Horse band. Radovin knew without ever having met him that he was a good man. The band, now headed by Ludoven's son, was a living testimonial.

Last summer he had come to the White Horse band to help them prove that Ludoven's death was not an accident. The band had received him with a warmth that amazed him. Threw him into shock, in fact--he had hardly known what to make of it, being more accustomed to ill treatment.

He looked up at Zhamavi. A tear fell onto her hands. She shook her head again. "Ah, sometimes I wish I was with him," she said.

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