Fantasy, Magic, Truth
Chloe had finally stirred herself to go inside and fetch the bottle from the fridge. Returning to the garden she opened the Champagne and watched the cork fly up through the boughs of the apple tree. Filling two glasses, she laughed at herself for being so whimsical and then raised her own glass in a toast.
“To my darling, Brokk, you wicked boy, where ever you may be.” She took a sip and closed her eyes, leaning back against the rough bark of the apple tree. She remembered him, exactly as he was, perfect in every detail, and smiled, wondering what he would make of her stories. She opened her eyes, and lifted the latest copy of her book, smoothing the heavy volume in her hands. She was a very wealthy woman, a successful writer and that was all down to him.
She had been so very angry with him when he had left, angry that he should give her hope when there ought to be none but then the Prince’s words had echoed along with Tante Maire’s...
Never trust the fae.
If he had lied before, he had likely lied again. He would never come back.
So she had begun to write every detail of that day, every tiny memory, everything that he had told her about his world, about his magic, she had written it all. Until she realised that she had rather more than just a memory of something precious.
There had been a price of course. No matter how she told herself it was all a lie, she could not help but watch the gateway, especially now, in August, when the sun stole every breath of wind and scorched the world with its brilliant glare. She had never married, had come close once, until discussions had fallen to selling her parent’s house and moving away. Then she had realised how deeply the bracelet and his promise had trapped her. She could never leave, and every August she would return here and spend her days in the garden... just in case.
She had his story though and she chuckled to herself, wondering what he would make of it. Now there was even talk of a film. She had listened with amusement as her agent had talked excitedly of all the handsome young actors who would be considered to play his part and knew, with absolute certainty, that there was not a man on the planet who could capture the beauty of the man who had been hers, just for one day; her impossible boy.
She sighed, feeling melancholy. It was all so far away now; maybe she really had just dreamed it all, just as she told everyone who asked where such fantastical ideas had come from. The heat and the Champagne were making her feel drowsy now and she lay down on the picnic blanket and closed her eyes.
She had the strangest dream.
Fragments remained still, the feel of magic sparking against her skin and the smell of apples, crisp and fresh. She tried to hold on to it, feeling it was important somehow, but it slipped from her grasp, darting away like a fish in deep water, leaving nothing but a ripple on her mind to know it had been there at all.
She didn’t open her eyes but she could tell the sun was going down, the fierce heat of the day subsiding; just a little. She could hear the quiet drone of a tractor somewhere in the far distance and the sound of pages turning. She breath caught in her throat as she realised someone was sitting beside her and she opened her eyes, looking up and feeling too overwhelmed to make a sound, to move so much as a finger.
He was sitting beside her, leaning back against the apple tree. He held his glass of Champagne in one hand and took a sip before putting it down and turning another page of his story. She saw the corners of his mouth quiver and then turn into a smile and wondered what part he was reading.
“I was very cruel to you, wasn’t I, my love?”
“Yes,” she agreed, “terribly cruel.”
He closed the book and looked down at her, his hand smoothing over the soft gold of her hair. “Can you forgive me?”
“Yes,” she said, simply and as he smiled she saw the tension leave his shoulders. He put the book down and lay beside her, close but not touching.
“You’re sure?” There was anxiety in his eyes and she wondered how the years had passed for him.
“You came back; you kept your promise this time.”
He nodded, touching his fingers to her lips. “Our world is changing, Chloe, for better and for worse but it means... it means you can come with me; if you still want to?”
She frowned, considering his words. Looking at his face he was just as he was when he had left, his skin as smooth, his features unchanged by the passing years and yet there was serious air about him, a weight of experience, of sorrow, that hadn’t been there before.”
She looked away from him, feeling self-conscious. “I’ve changed, Brokk, I am older.”
She laughed, looking back at him and touching his face gently, amazed still that he was really here. “You are just the same.”
He shook his head, the wide brown eyes sad. “No, Chloe, I am not and you can see that.” He leaned forward and touched his lips to hers, the barest touch that had her heart leaping in her chest just the same. “There is one thing that has never changed though,” he whispered. “I never forgot you, I never regretted my promise. I came the moment it was possible. Come with me, Chloe, please, I don’t want to miss you any longer.”
“You really still want me?”
His eyes widened, incredulous that she had to ask. “Of course!” He frowned, the anxiety back in his eyes. “Don’t... don’t you want to come?”
Now it was her turn to raise her eyebrows and she threw her head back, laughing, and he remembered the last time he had been here when the sound of her laughter had stopped his heart in his chest. She leaned forward and kissed him hard and then sat up, looking at him fiercely.
“I’ll come on one condition,” she said with mock severity.
“Oh?” He watched her; wary, wondering what sort of bargain she would want this time.
She leaned down and whispered her words against his mouth.
“Promise me... we’ll never come back.”