here is a secret

here is a secret, can you seal your lips?
ghost across mine: a promise, a kiss.
i will be fair, steady, strong;
this feels so right, it can’t be wrong.

She was trapped against a wall in a deserted corridor—their deserted corridor, across from a spiral staircase that led to the heart of the library—and he was…he was…

Leaning in. Looming. Dark, transcendental, like a phoenix burning in reverse.

She wished, not for the first time, that she was taller. He wouldn’t be able to threaten and imply and…

…tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear while whispering in it like they were lovers. In the twilight blanketing the castle, they looked like any couple in the midst of a tryst. But there was nothing romantic about this.

This was wanting, yearning, burning: a wildfire of emotions rather than the gentle trickle of affection she was accustomed to. Dazed and slightly breathless, she asked, “So, that’s it, then?” And at his nod, she shook herself out of her stupor, slipped under his arm, and walked away.

one year earlier

“This,” Wes declared, ‘is not ideal.”

“Oh, hush,” she admonished, “there could be dragons.”

“But, Sky, there might as well be dragons. It’s raining fire.”

Sky flicked her eyes heavenward. “Now, really? I hadn’t noticed.” Then, “We have magic, you numbskull. Conjure water.”

But before any conjuring could be done, a dense shadow approached. 

“Sky,” Wes gulped. “Incoming.”

Everything went black.

A scream.

When the light returned, Sky was gone.

we deal in shadows, here.
possibility everywhere.
a trail of dust ends in naught,
says that when we turn, we won’t get caught.

The world was not on fire.

That was important. Because, because, the sun was not angry, rising and setting peacefully instead, and the moon was able to serenely glow in the night. Shadows dappled amongst the light, and, if they sometimes grew, no one minded, now did they?

It was a quiet world. It was a darker world. It was the world Sky woke up in.

The dimness was her first clue.

The next ones were increasingly alarming.

It was as if someone was following her, living with her, intimately knowing every crevice of her life. It was eerie, unsettling, though she could never seem to assign it any importance. 

Because, as it did with all inhabitants of this darker world, it slipped out of her consciousness after a flicker of thought. 

dim the lights and watch the stars,
their immortality shall be ours.
we'll burn bright, brighter than flame,
they'll never forget the sound of our names

Time moved differently here. A thousand years could pass in the blink of an eye, and Sky started losing track of her age.

(Was she supposed to be dead? Was she dead? She didn’t know anymore. She didn’t, she didn’t, she didn’t—)

The seasons were unchanging; it was an eternal winter. She marked time by the sun and the stars when she could, when the light wasn’t muffled by gloom.

(How was this ever preferable?)

Something was building, bursting, changing, and she didn’t know what.

She hoped for spring.

another secret, can you keep it close?
everyone knows this, but i love you the most.
we're halves of a whole, a lock and a key,
we'll somehow rewrite history.

The day she found the rose was the day she pieced together the secret.

There was a person—a man, yet a star—trapped, cursed, desperate, looking for an enchantress in a world where magic was unknown. Looking for her.

He was dying, and she was his last chance. 

That was the day the notes appeared. Philosophy and poetry and pages of letters. Sky read voraciously, hoping for a clue, and with each twist of phrase, she fell a little deeper until she was submerged, subsumed in the life of a stranger she was racing to save.

The clock was ticking.

here is my hand, take it in yours.
we'll dance a lifetime, across marble floors.
this kingdom is ours, here is the throne.
my heart is yours, your heart is home.

The answer was the solar eclipse. 

For a moment—just a moment—she could reach into the ether and pull and pull and pull—

—and stumbling out came a man—the sun—wary and uncertain, eyes wild. Pale and gaunt, but beautiful nonetheless. 

This was a beginning, she knew. And an end.

He spoke her name, a low caress of sound, and she imagined a lifetime of hearing that, waking up to his face and fighting for each other. 

With time, her infatuation became true.

With time, he vowed vengeance.

With time, she walked away.

She never thought of that forever ago, with Wes and lost possibilities.

you want to know everything;
leaves me breathless, tingling.
your skin is fair, your eyes are wise.
i can only hypothesize.

an eternity later

He returned with neither fanfare nor explanation. 

He was still unfairly beautiful.

(A ghost of a memory blurred his face with a monster’s. She wondered why? When? How? With sickening realization, she remembered waking up out of place, with a sense of everything being tilted sideways and she must have meddled, would face consequences—)

His eyes spoke volumes. They were dark. They were brown. They were wise. 

There was no madness there.

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