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Now she lay under the apple tree once more as the sun sank in the sky, staining it scarlet and gold. She watched the leaves flickering above her, stirred by a gentle breeze and remembered that day, that night; such a long time ago. She remembered the feel of his skin against hers, the taste of his kisses, of his promises. 

Had she been foolish to believe him?

She turned on her side on the picnic blanket; eyes closed, and dreamed it all over again. For a long time she lay there thinking of him, feeling the warmth of his body pressed behind her even in her dreams. She sighed, her longing for it to be real was so keen she believed she could really feel his lips on her neck, hear her name whispered softly...

Her heart stuttered as her eyelids fluttered open, to fall upon those wide brown eyes once again.

She reached a hand up to touch his face, convinced it must be a dream and yet feeling the warmth of his skin under her fingertips.

“You’re real,” she said, hardly daring to move in case she was wrong and she awoke.

He took her hand and she saw the bracelet at his wrist, identical to the one she wore herself. 

“So are you.” He brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them. “I can scarcely dare believe it myself. I...” He hesitated, holding her hand tightly. “I was afraid you wouldn’t be here.”

“I have always been here... waiting.”

He got to his feet and pulled her upright, spinning her around and around until she felt dizzy. He was laughing, a joyous sound that made her laugh with him and forget the years of waiting. Time fell away and it was just yesterday that he had said goodbye, leaving her with a promise.

He stopped and she clung to him, still giddy and disbelieving. “Ready now?” he asked, and she could hear the anxiety in his voice, the fear that she wouldn’t come after everything he had done. She smiled as he gestured to the gate, shimmering brightly at the edge of the garden and reached up; placing her lips softly against his and Brokk felt the weight he had carried for so long fall away. 

“Ready,” she whispered against his mouth and he took her hand and led her home.


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