|This Dream Before
Author: Anniexus PM
The dreams and encounters Marguerite has had before. A work in progress, but each addition will stand on its own so each chapter is technically a separate story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Words: 6,428 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 02-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6766030
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: "This Dream Before"
Pairing: Roxton/ Marguerite.
Rating/Codes: PG-13 (just to be safe for possible upcoming chapters), Supernatural/Romance
Summary: The dreams and some strange encounters Marguerite has had before as she mentions while half asleep in Blood Lust and then in True Spirits.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Lost World or these characters nor do I make money off this. I just borrow them for my own enjoyment.
Warning: Romantic situations (nothing overt).
Notes: We know from A Witch's Calling that Marguerite has dreams that are more than just her mind unravelling puzzles of the day. She accepted it so easily, enough so that she didn't hesitate to use the information from her dream to save Challenger. She was also being honest in True Spirits when she said she could do a seance. It stands to reason then that this is not the first time she encountered supernatural forces. Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors and note that I like to use Canadian spellings.
The child was dreaming, but she didn't realize it yet.
A creature chased her through a forest and she couldn't run fast enough to escape. It was a monster, she was sure of it.
It looked a little like a bird, but larger and without feathers or a beak and none of the charm. It ran on two massive hind legs and had two smaller arms that didn't look good for anything outside of close range. Still, it's claws were large and sharp and it's teeth equally so. It had a long tail and aerodynamic head that swivelled on a long, muscular neck.
The monster leapt, it's teeth and claws reaching for her and then there was a loud bang.
The creature dropped at her feet and she found herself looking up and up at a handsome man with a smoking rifle. He lowered the gun slowly, his face obscured by the shadow of his hat.
A woman with thick, curly hair stood then, seeming to come from the same place the dreamer had fallen. She stepped over the dead animal, her khaki skirt slightly messed with dirt. The black-haired woman went to stand next to the man. He bent his head slightly, quietly asking the woman something.
The dreamer couldn't hear what they said, but found herself terribly curious. Though she didn't know these people, she felt a longing to join them, to hear their voices and just be close.
"I've had this dream before," said the dreamer to herself and the jungle setting disappeared.
She sat in a small classroom alone as a middle-aged nun shooed a few girls out of the room and closed the door. The woman turned to face her. She looked grim.
"Marguerite, do you understand why you're here?"
Marguerite's eyes snapped open.
There was a shadow standing over her as it had every night for two months. She could not see the shadowy person's face, just the blurry silhouette, enough to know whoever it was, they were tall and imposing. He or she said nothing and did nothing, just stood over Marguerite's bed. It terrified her to the point of silent tears.
Pulling her blankets over her head, she pressed her lips together to stop herself from making noise.
The cold darkness of the country night faded slowly, drawing back from the young girl hiding under her bedcovers. Her large eyes were wide, her breathing erratic with fear that retreated as slowly as the encompassing shades of night.
Though morning was coming on and her caretakers would be coming to start the day, the girl's body slowly relaxed and she finally fell asleep. Hours of fear finally left her exhausted.
It was only an hour later when Sister Harriet came up to the crowded little space set aside as a bedroom for the convent's orphans. With her usual brisk, airy ways, she soon had the fifteen little girls up and in the process of dressing. Her warm brown eyes kept track of everything and though her main concern was efficiency, her feminine hands were gentle as she tucked and straightened clothing or helped braid hair.
"Hurry, Marguerite," Sister Harriet called to the far end of the simple room where the smallest and most inconspicuous of the girls still struggled with her underclothes. She noted the sluggish movements and the growing circles under the child's eyes. She sighed. Marguerite had lost out on yet another night of sleep. She hoped the girl would be awake enough to satisfy her teacher today.
The girls lined up once dressed and filed out of the drafty, dull room and downstairs to breakfast. The oldest two led the way with the younger behind in two lines. Sister Harriet followed in the rear, keeping an eye on the lines and particularly on Marguerite. The youngster worried her.
The convent was situated in Wiltshire, just under five kilometres west of Marlborough and a little to the north. Tucked away from anything of significance, even a smooth road, the land was nevertheless perfectly suitable for the nun's work. It was not overly large and very simple.
Four wood and stone buildings made up the working property, which had once been a farm and had barely changed since it was first built. It had all been donated to the church by the elderly owner upon his passing. The nuns had kept the barn as it was, modified the house to serve both them and the orphans, and built both a small chapel and schoolhouse. Everyone worked to keep things running smoothly and in repair.
Breakfast was a silent affair in the convent. The nuns didn't permit talking during meals so the only sound along the tables were the clinking of spoons in bowls, clanking cups, and hasty swallowing. The children ate quickly and eagerly, their growing bodies soaking up the morning porridge as though it was the best thing they'd ever tasted. For some of them it was.
After their meal, the girls were ushered to their schoolroom where Sister Kerry taught everything from math and history to grammar and literature. Because Sister Kerry had been raised as the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family, she was well versed in French, German, and Italian as well and made it her unofficial duty to teach her students all she knew.
She didn't particularly care for children, but that didn't mean she'd allow them to slip in their education.
"Comment vous faire aime le jeu?" (How do you like the play) said Sister Kerry. She almost smiled as the children diligently repeated her words. They weren't perfect, but they were much better than one would expect them to be.
"Je l'aime beaucoup." (I like it very much.)
The children mimicked her inflections yet again... all but one. Sister Kerry frowned as she noted the drooping eyes of the youngest pupil. Marguerite was a good student, but Sister Kerry would allow no one to fall asleep during class.
Keeping her tone normal, Sister Kerry picked up her ruler and moved down the rows of desks, still reciting phrases.
"Je suis désolé, mais je suis aussi fatigué pour faire l'attention." (I am sorry, but I'm too tired to pay proper attention.)
The children repeated, many grinning as they realized her destination. Sister Kerry was well aware of the hierarchy among the girls and though she disliked doing something that would encourage isolation of an individual, discipline was necessary.
With a resounding thwack, Sister Kerry brought the ruler down on the corner of Marguerite's desk. The girl jumped, her eyes going wide as she gasped. "J'écouterai convenablement à partir de." (I will listen properly from now on.)
Looking contrite, Marguerite joined the rest of the girls this time in repeating the phrase. Tears shimmered in her eyes, but she held them back.
"Vous me verrez pendant la coupure." This last was spoken quietly to Marguerite, who nodded. She looked down to avoid the lighted gazes of her fellow orphans. She couldn't block the sound of their snickers though.
"Demain j'aimerais voir quelque chose par..."
Marguerite waited silently, head bowed, at her desk while Sister Kerry ushered the other girls out of the room for recess outside. She didn't know what was coming, but knew it would be painful in more ways than one. She was already teased in the schoolyard for many things, quite often for being in the orphanage since her infancy. No doubt her plight now would be met with more scorn than sympathy.
Sister Kerry re-entered the room and sighed.
"Marguerite, do you understand why you are here?"
The little head bobbed. There were shining drops in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall this time. She would not face the other children later with red eyes or wet cheeks.
"You are a good student, Marguerite, especially with your language studies. Why did you not pay attention today?"
"I'm sorry, Sister Kerry," said Marguerite quietly.
"I didn't ask for your apology. I asked you why."
"I could not sleep, Ma'am."
"And why is that?"
Despite Sister Kerry's kind tone, Marguerite was wary of revealing what she experienced at night. Instinct - or maybe it was a whisper in her mind she sometimes heard when danger was too near - told her that no good would come of revealing her nightly visions. Still, the nun was waiting and at the age of four, Marguerite had no real experience in lying.
"I'm waiting, child."
"I... I have nightmares, Ma'am."
"Nightmares. What are they about?"
So, Marguerite described them, including the figure at the end of the bed each night. Mostly the dreams were about running, trying to escape for her life either in a jungle or some foreign city. Sometimes she was rescued by a man in a hat with a rifle and other times she saved herself or the dream ended without revealing a resolution, cutting off as though she wasn't really supposed to know what would happen next.
Every now and then, she would also dream of some small event that took place - everything just as she had seen it - the next day.
When she had finished, Sister Kerry sat very still, her eyes wide and face stony as she reassessed the little girl in front of her. She had heard of such things, but never thought they would take place under the roof of God, and under her own refuge no less.
"You have the devil in you," she said. Marguerite blinked, confused.
Taking up her ruler quickly, Sister Kerry did the only thing her frightened mind could think of and gave Marguerite a proper punishment. She brought the solid ruler down on the girl's hands until the knuckles bled and then used the paddle on her back and legs. When she was satisfied, she have Marguerite a list of prayers to repeat fifty times over the next week and sent her outside.
The night was cold, more so than it had been all year. The girls curled up in their beds under the old blankets and tucked their heads beneath the fabric, hoping to warm their toes with their breath. Once the last checkup by the nuns was done, a few of the girls even scampered to join their friends in bed. Two bodies meant more warmth. Marguerite was not one of them.
Alone in her bed, Marguerite wrapped her arms around her knees, ignoring the pain from her beating this position caused, and tried to keep her eyes open. Though she was utterly exhausted, she didn't want to sleep. More to the point, she didn't want to dream. She didn't want to be possessed by evil.
Of course, her body could not stay awake indefinitely and the more she tried to stay alert, the faster she succumbed.
She was lost in the dark and unable to see more than a few feet ahead. What she did see were branches and ferns, lots of grass and tiny pinpricks of light that were the stars.
Though she couldn't see what was chasing her, Marguerite knew something was hunting in the dark and it wanted her. Her heart beat furiously and she could barely get enough oxygen to fuel her burning legs. Despite her terror of her pursuer, whatever it was, she couldn't see it and didn't really know why she was running.
Then, she came to a large clearing and she saw she was still in England, though she wasn't sure where.
Great carved stones loomed ahead and though their shadows were eerie, she felt comfortable in their presence. It was like she belonged there, like she was meant to be there, which was strange as she had never seen them before.
With a gasp, Marguerite woke, her eyes trying in vain to focus in the dark room. When they finally settled on something to see, she wished she had just kept them closed.
There was a tall shadow at the end of her bed, so vaguely outlined that it could be either male or female.
Marguerite held in her scream and sat frozen, staring back at the outline of the imposing figure.
It didn't do anything, just stood there, facing her in a silence that grew more tense as the minutes passed. Marguerite felt she needed to say something, but feared the consequences of it. Perhaps it would provoke an attack or wake the girls and make them angry at her when the figure disappeared as it always did.
"Don't be afraid," said the figure with a distinctly mature and feminine lilt.
The girls readied themselves for bed, most in a jovial mood despite the quickly cooling night air. They whispered secrets, giggled, and sang or hummed after their day of lessons, church, and chores.
Sister Harriet sat on the edge of one of the beds, watching the winding down of yet another day and braiding yet more silky locks of hair. She enjoyed times like this when the exuberance of youth was let loose. The children had difficult lives and more trials coming up. It was nice to see them just being happy and carefree. However, she couldn't help her gaze from straying to one who didn't seem able to have even a few stolen moments of childhood.
Marguerite, ever the outcast, had earned herself another beating and this time it had been public. Unfortunately, it had been Sister Kerry who heard her scream the night before. Sister Harriet didn't know all the details, just what the other nun and Father Bradley told everyone else, that the diminutive little girl was being used as a tool by the devil.
As much faith as Sister Harriet placed in her superiors, she just couldn't believe this. The girl was too tiny, too timid, too sweet and too desperate for affection parents should have been providing to be anything more than the sad little girl she appeared to be.
Marguerite was curled up on her side, facing the wall, away from the loud room. Every now and then Sister Harriet noticed the girl's shoulders quiver a bit and she knew Marguerite was crying and it was no wonder why. Sister Harriet may not have been told the reasoning behind it, but she witnessed firsthand the punishment Sister Kerry dolled out on the petite child after dragging her out of bed and to Father Bradley's room.
For three hours Father Bradley, Sister Kerry and Marguerite had been locked up in Father Bradley's office discussing the supposed possession. When they emerged, Marguerite had been thoroughly strapped and sent back to bed for the few hours left in the night.
When the girls woke, everyone convened inside the chapel and listened to Father Bradley lecture on the importance of prayer and keeping one's soul free of sin and temptation. He then explained that one of their own had been taken by Satan and through strict discipline and faith, perhaps she would be saved.
Marguerite was then hauled up in front of everyone and given a beating that made even some of the more hardened nuns wince. Sister Harriet herself had no doubt that if an evil force had taken over Marguerite's body, then what she endured would certainly have knocked it from her. The girl had barely been able to move the rest of the day.
Marguerite had winced in pain with every movement afterward and hid in the schoolyard away from the girls who made no effort to hide their disdain, as though they had finally been given permission to openly hate her, and in a way they had. Sister Harriet had watched from a window as Sister Kerry blatantly looked the other way when two girls found Marguerite and began taunting her, their fingers pointing and usually beautiful faces twisted as they shouted things Sister Harriet couldn't hear.
Once the last girl's hair was done and everyone was more or less ready, Sister Harriet watched over the girls as they said their prayers and climbed into bed. She strolled between the beds as she did and stopped at Marguerite's side. However, there was nothing she could think of to say. She settled for briefly placing her hand on the youngster's shoulder before turning out the lights and heading for her own bed.
Marguerite waited patiently as the other girls slowly drifted into sleep. She listened to their breathing even out and then deepen. Once she was sure they were all deeply asleep, she sat up.
Taking the thickest blanket, Marguerite slid to the floor and curled up underneath her bed. It was even colder there, but it was the safest place she could think of. She couldn't avoid sleep forever. She knew that, but at least when she woke, she would not be tormented by her usual visitor.
Sliding into sleep a bit easier despite her shivering, Marguerite was soon beset once more with images of the great carved stones in a field. She ran to the ancient monument, the feeling of safety and rightness filling her to the brim as she danced among the neolithic stones. As before it felt like she belonged, like she was home. Were she master of her mind, Marguerite would never have left.
It took awhile, but eventually the feeling of perfect euphoria faded slightly and she felt a new sensation.
Though she had no idea who lived in the area and she knew well enough that this was a dream, she felt as though she was waiting for someone.
She looked around, but the darkness of the surrounding fields remained absolute. Still, deep in her bones she knew the man or boy - without explanation, she expected to see a male - was on his way.
Twirling and gleeful in her bliss, Marguerite didn't notice sleep or the dream slipping away from her.
It was not yet light out as Marguerite's eyes blinked a few times and focussed on a pair of bare feet. Despite the clarity with which she saw them, they were practically translucent. She shrunk back a bit, realizing her visitor had returned.
"Marguerite, do not be afraid," said a kindly woman's voice. Marguerite froze, unsure and afraid. "You must go to the place in your dreams. Go to the faery ring in Avebury."
Marguerite blinked and the feet were gone, replaced by a pair of slippers and the hem of a simple wool nightgown. She knew even before she heard Sister Kerry speak that she was in very deep trouble.
The farmhouse had been built with a large cellar underneath its foundation. Within the cellar were many shelves stocked with canned or jarred goods, items like flour and the rare spice, and in the back, almost hidden with boxes and stored household tools was a door.
Many of the older girls liked to tease newcomers and their younger counterparts with stories of the room in the back of the cellar, claiming it was haunted or cursed. None of the girls liked the cellar to begin with and the possibility of a ghoul in the closet was not hard for them to imagine or believe.
Marguerite had never believed the stories. Quite simply, she had lived in the convent since she was a baby and had explored the buildings enough to know there were no ghosts... at least not in the cellar. Still, the small room in the back was unpleasant and she trembled as she was led to it.
Sister Kerry shut the wooden door as soon as she'd pushed the pale child inside and locked it with an old, rusty padlock. She quickly retreated back upstairs to get breakfast started.
Sister Kerry returned much later to administer discipline yet again with a wooden paddle, and then left. She locked the door behind her.
Twice more throughout the day she returned, these times bringing a bible along with the paddle.
The third time, she led Marguerite back upstairs and to bed. The other girls were already settled and some snoring gently. The moon was out, its light filtering through the trees. An owl called out near the barn.
Sister Kerry left as soon as Marguerite was under the covers. There were a few last conversations and mutters as the other girls slowly drifted deeper into sleep. When she was certain she alone was awake, Marguerite slipped from bed and began gathering all she owned in the world: some drab clothes, the locket she kept hidden beneath her dress, and a threadbare doll stuffed with dried grass she made herself one summer.
Dressing quickly in the cold air, Marguerite thought about what she knew of Avebury. It was very little. There was an estate nearby, or perhaps it was just a very large house, but she'd never seen it. Avebury itself was a neolithic structure, a circle of great stones standing vertical against the wet landscape. She knew a few people with the ability to travel for pleasure came during the summer to see the stones and marvel at the pagan tribute. However, besides her dreams, Marguerite had not even seen a picture nor heard more than a few snippets of conversation spoken about them. She thought they might be two or three kilometres away if she remembered her geography correctly, but she wasn't sure and being so young to the world, she had no idea how far a walk even that would be for her tired body.
Her shoes were too old and worn to squeak much on the frozen wooden floorboards, but she still trode carefully as she passed the other beds. None of the occupants would hesitate to call Sister Kerry back and get Marguerite into more trouble. Once she was gone, she wouldn't care what they said about her, but for the moment she prayed for them to keep sleeping until she'd passed.
The hallway was empty and the doors to the other bedrooms were closed, only darkness showing through the cracks in the wood. Still, Marguerite moved as quietly and slowly as she could. A serpent moving over sand or a cat through a barn could not have been more silent.
She made it downstairs, but did not yet dare feel relief.
Her coat was too chill from the drafts of the farmhouse to warm her, but she felt better with her red scarf - one of the regular churchgoers knitted a different colour scarf for each orphan every year - tied around her neck and over her mouth to trap the warm breath. She had gloves as well, stowed away in her pockets.
Finally ready, Marguerite turned the knob for the front door, but it wouldn't budge. Locked. She had forgotten that Father Bradley locked all the doors and windows each night with a key only he had access to. It was disheartening, but Marguerite would not give up.
Convinced she had seen Avebury and been told to go there for a reason, she began looking around for another way out and then she thought of it.
The window of the girl's bedroom was never locked. It was too difficult to reach so high up on the roof and of course no one thought of an orphan girl trying to run away, not when life was so good at the convent. No one had thought one of them would be seized with a desire and a will to match any adult's ambition.
The stairs loomed ahead, dark and foreboding. Could she make it back to her bed and out the old window without anyone noticing? For the first time since she'd come to the decision to do as the spectre said, Marguerite felt fear seize her. She didn't want to be punished again.
Perhaps she could put her things away and no one would ever know what she'd almost done.
As though sensing the child's wavering heart, a warm voice like a mother's whispered prayer spoke to her. "Go."
The air felt denser, the darkness deeper and yet Marguerite felt reassured and warmer, like someone was watching over her.
Slowly, dreading the creak of a board or the stub of a toe, she ascended the stairs once more. She reached the top and paused. There was no sound but her breathing.
On her toes, Marguerite drew closer to her bedroom door. She reached out a hand and turned the knob. It slid open smoothly and without complaint. The rise and fall of blankets around her continued steadily as she walked back to the window.
Placing her hands on the windowsill, Marguerite was suddenly unsure how to go about opening it. It squealed horribly when it was opened in the summer. She grimaced imagining the sound it would make in the damp cold of winter. There was nothing else to do though.
Closing her eyes and willing the sound to lessen, Marguerite shoved the window up and open. A cold blast hit her face, but there was very little noise from the wood. She marvelled for a moment then climbed through, closing it behind her as she looked for a way off the roof.
She trudged ahead further and further from what had been her home for longer than she could remember. She knew what loomed behind her. Whatever lay ahead was a mystery. Even in her greatest hopes she didn't expect to find all her wishes come true. Discovering the reason for her dreams would have been enough.
The night passed on and still Marguerite continued, not really sure if she was walking in the right direction. Her eyelids began to droop. The press of sleep grew too much to ignore.
Her feet felt like stones themselves as they dragged over the grass. She couldn't go much longer. It was cold and she was exhausted. She'd had nothing to eat for a day and two nights and had brought nothing with her.
She was not on a road but in the middle of a field by the time she realized she could go no further and Marguerite lay down where she was, curling against a convenient rock as shelter against the wind. It was too dark, the moon clouded over, to see more than a foot ahead anyway. It would be safer to wait until sunrise to start again.
Dim light grew in the distance, just a hint of colour in the black sky. It exploded against the landscape to reveal a glorious sunrise setting fire to the night's frost and sparking rainbows in water droplets that beaded along everything in the county.
Blinking as the sun caressed her face, Marguerite woke to stiffness, cold, hunger, and great wonder. She looked up, and up, and up at the stone she'd taken refuge behind. It was enormous and she realized she'd made it to Avebury.
Her stomach and even some of her discomfort forgotten, she stood and felt some of the euphoria of her dreams fill her. She had done it. The standing stones of Avebury surrounded her, all of them bathing as one in the golden sunlight.
Giggling madly, she ran though the monument, tracing the cuts and wares on each rock with her hands until she memorized each facet and groove. She danced in the sun that auspiciously shone all day just for her.
Though she was undisturbed during the cool winter day, there were a few people who passed by and wondered who the child playing amongst the sprawling stones was. Most of them didn't give her more than that initial thought before moving on with their day. One woman was an exception.
Mrs. Gretta Reimer had lived in the countryside adjoining the Avebury site all her life, which was no small amount of time. She lived to the west of the site on Bray Street, her modest house almost hidden among the farmer's fields. She didn't often pass by the standing stones, but today she was going to visit and old friend to the east of them on Green Street.
She passed the girl with the red scarf in the early morning on her way to Mrs. McCreedy's house and then on her way back late in the afternoon. Pausing, Mrs. Reimer looked around, expecting to see a parent or group of school children, but there was no one. It concerned her enough to prompt her to go up to the child.
"Hello, dear." The little girl paused in her twirling, looking at her shoes as a deep blush coloured her cheeks. She mumbled a shy greeting. "What's your name?"
"Mar - Mary."
"Where are your parents, Mary? They haven't left you out here all day have they?"
Marguerite shook her head, thinking quickly. "We're visiting. I came out to play."
"Oh." Mrs. Reimer gazed at Marguerite, unconvinced. "But you've been out here all day."
"I had lunch, but I came back outside. It's very pretty out here." Here truth was in the child's appreciative eyes. Mrs. Reimer couldn't argue with her either. It was a beautiful day and she loved the standing stones as well.
Still, Mrs. Reimer suspected the little girl was lying, though she couldn't imagine any reason for her to be there without her parents or a guardian.
"Well, dear, how about we get something sweet to eat while we wait for your parents to come collect you."
Marguerite hesitated. Common sense told her to hide if she wanted to stay in Avebury and obey her dream. On the other hand, her stomach rumbled so loud at the mention of food that she was sure the old lady heard it.
Hunger won over common sense and Marguerite nodded, shyly stepping up to the elder woman's side. Mrs. Reimer held out her hand and smiled as the tiny child took it. Together they walked to a small bakery and purchased sweetbread. They sat on a bench outside to eat it, watching a few of the townspeople moving up and down the road.
An hour came and went and Marguerite struggled to think of some way to escape the kind, old lady besides just running away. No bright ideas came to her.
As the sun began to dip below the horizon and Marguerite leaned into the warm side of Mrs. Reimer, she began to fall asleep. She dreamed a bit. Flashes of bright colours and swift sunrises made her smile.
The pleasant moment was broken by the sound of a light gig pulled by a single horse and then the surprised shout of Sister Harriet.
"Marguerite! Oh, thank the stars I found you." She practically leapt out of the cart and scooped the startled Marguerite right off the ground.
Mrs. Reimer took one look at the nun and understood at least partly why the girl had been alone in the countryside. She stood, believing Mary - she corrected herself - Marguerite was in good hands and going home.
"Marguerite," both Sister Harriet and Marguerite looked to Mrs. Reimer, "if you would ever like to spend time in Avebury, my house is just down the road and I'd be happy to have you visit."
Marguerite smiled and nodded bashfully. Sister Harriet thanked Mrs. Reimer and lifted Marguerite into the gig. Setting off at a brisk pace, they didn't talk for many minutes.
"You're in trouble," said Sister Harriet quietly.
Marguerite stared determinedly at the passing countryside, frowning as she wondered why she had been so driven to incur more wrath. She searched her feelings. It had been wonderful to have freedom for a day, but the price would certainly be terrible. Was it worth it? No.
Though she had thoroughly enjoyed her day, she felt like she was missing something... or had been waiting for it and should be waiting still. The belief grew so strong the longer she thought about it that by the time they reached the convent, she was determined to return once more. No matter her punishment and no matter the trouble it took, she would find a way to return later to Avebury.
That night, Marguerite tried escaping through the window again, but found it nailed shut. The door was locked as well.
She returned to bed and dreamed of dancing among the standing stones yet again, a voice calling for her to return.
Two weeks later, the wounds on her knuckles still bleeding freely when she flexed her fingers, and Marguerite had yet to return to the standing stones.
It wasn't for lack of trying and she was beginning to feel the stress of being withheld from her goals.
She didn't know where the stress came from, only that the longer she was kept at the convent, her freedom inhibited by the nuns and even the other children, the more anxiety built in her chest. It pressed against her ribs until she was stir crazy with the need to escape.
Unfortunately, she was locked in the cellar again and unable to go anywhere. She banged her fist on the door, shouting to be let out, but there was no one close enough to hear it. The sun shone outside where the other children were playing, giving little thought to their compatriot in the pitch blackness of the cellar.
"Let me out! I have to go. I have to go back." Her hand throbbed painfully as she pounded on the door again, her tired, hoarse voice rising along with her anxiety. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks. She had begged for hours to be released.
Her voice cracked and she finally gave in to her exhaustion, collapsing into a corner as she sobbed.
Shut away from the light and warmth of the outside world, Marguerite eventually fell asleep and began to dream. Once more she saw the standing stones, but things were different. Instead of the euphoria, of feeling like she was home, there was a terrible sense of being late as she struggled to walk even at a normal pace. Her limbs refused to move normally though she wanted to run as fast as she could.
The standing stones lay ahead and among them was a shadow of a person Marguerite couldn't make out. She wanted - no - she needed to get to him, but there was a force holding her back.
As Marguerite slowly drew closer, the person turned and left, disappearing before she could arrive. Her limbs were freed to move as they liked, but no matter where she ran among the stones, she could see no other people and could not retrieve that feeling of happiness, of belonging.
She sank to the ground, her hopes for something she couldn't express sinking to cold ashes in her heart.
In the days that followed she felt true heartache and a bone-deep disappointment when she spent each night without a single dream. Weeks ago she would have given anything to sleep through the night, but now that she knew there had been a purpose, a promise unspoken and woven through the images, she felt the loss of having not discovered the meaning behind them.
That they had stopped entirely could only mean that there was no longer any need for them, that what they had been encouraging her to seek was no longer there. Whatever their promise, she had missed it and the dreams would not come again.
"I'm curious, Marguerite."
"You're always curious, John."
Roxton chuckled as he mixed the boiling water with the ground coffee beans. "Which convent did you attend as a child?"
Marguerite answered a bit hesitantly, unsure where he would go with this line of questioning, but seeing no reason not to tell him. "I lived in two actually. The first was about three kilometres outside Marlborough and I was sent to the second outside of East Anton."
"Marlborough?" Marguerite nodded. She couldn't look at him, but Roxton didn't notice the tenseness radiating from her form. He had turned thoughtful, his eyes focussed nothing for the moment. "That's just east of Avebury."
"Did you ever go there as a child?" He chuckled, glancing at her. "Wouldn't it be remarkable if our paths had crossed as children?"
Marguerite stiffened further, the almost-forgotten pain of so many years ago flaring like new. Yes, she thought, it would have been remarkable, but we didn't.
She fought bitter tears and a lump in her throat. Because she couldn't stand to think what her life might have been like if they had met earlier, couldn't stand the bitter heartache of knowing he had been so close and that she had missed him.
"Well," he asked, still ignorant of her mood, "did you ever visit the standing stones? We might have passed each other and never known it, though I-"
"What does it matter if I did or didn't?" she snapped, her hands trembling. "The past is gone and fantasizing about what might have been won't change anything."