Title: Forever With You

By: Susan Bones

Email: thechocolatefroggy@yahoo.com

Summary: After watching her grandmother die, Winnie decides that she won't ever be that woman dying in bed. Movie based.

Rating: PG

Category: Romance, Drama, Angst, Fantasy

Disclaimer: Not mine. Sorry.

Forever With You
Susan Bones
October 2002

For Winifred Foster, everything changed the moment she saw her grandmother lying there in her bed. The elderly woman took in short, rapid breathes, her eyelids tinged a purplish color. Winnie watched in a sort of fascinated horror (it was first dying person after all and it was her grandmother at that) as her mother climbed into the bed alongside her grandmother. And as she watched, Winnie wondered if that would one day be herself, with her own daughter curled up beside her, weeping as the last of Winnie's life slipped away.

*No* Winnie thought suddenly and furiously *Not, that won't ever be me. I shan't ever die. *

She turned and stole away from the cold, silent room, the touch-me-not cottage, and the front yard, which had held her captive for so many years.

She stepped outside of the fence and looked back briefly, half-expecting to hear her mother calling sternly after her to get back inside this instant before she soiled her dress.

But there came no shout.

Winnie ran blindly, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks in a mad rush. She did not know, exactly, why she was crying anymore than you or I do. However, if I were to guess, I would suggest she was crying because she was thinking about the Tucks again. Not so many days ago, she had been walking down this very path and in a few moments had come upon Jesse Tuck and everything had sort of spun out of control from here.

But I do know what she was thinking and she was thinking that the Tucks would find her eventually. Jesse would come for her, just as he'd promised and they would like together forever.

After a great deal of time (Winnie did not know how much time, really, only that it was quite a bit, for the sun was just about to leave them for the day), Winnie came upon the spring. She found herself expecting to see him sitting there beside the spring, washing his face in the strange water.

But there was no one, save for a rather fat sparrow.

"Oh, I wouldn't drink from that if I were you," Winnie advised it, "But I am not you, you see. I've got a handsome young man coming for me someday and I've got to wait for him. This spring's going to help me."

She had never exactly been a very patient girl, however, and she quite hoped Jesse would come soon.

The sparrow looked at her narrowly.

"Move, would you? I've got to be back home soon or my parent will think I've gone and run away again," Winnie said, taking a step forward and frowning slightly.

The sparrow gave a little hop, but did not move.

"Now see here, sparrow," Winnie began sternly, "Move over right now. You are not the keeper of this spring."

The sparrow gave her a "That's what you think" sort of glare before flying away and Winnie was sorry she had been so cross with the bird.

"Thank you!" she called after it, waving and suddenly feeling quite cheerful.

She knelt by the spring, hearing its merry (but all the while somehow dreadful) bubbling.

She put a hand into the water and once heard

(no, it's poisoned!)

voices exploding in her head. She drew her hand out of the spring and began to cry again. She put both of her hands up to her face, catching her tears as they fell.

She saw the Tucks as clearly as though they were right there in front of her. She could smell Mae Tuck's cinnamony mother smell and see her cooking dinner, whistling gleefully, saw Miles grinning in spite of himself, Angus Tuck dancing in front of the fire with Mae Tuck twirling in around him.

And Jesse.

Jesse, with his lopsided smile, his messy brown curls that always seemed to have a twig or two planted within them, his slender, sunburned frame and his eyes. His bright, seawater colored eyes.

Winnie cried harder, longing to feel Jesse's arms wrapped tightly around her.

The Tucks were her real family. It was them to whom she really belonged.

She had never belonged to the prim and proper world of her parents, but to the wild, carefree and timeless world that was the world of the Tucks.

Presently, her tears came to an end and she wiped her eyes and nose on her sleeve.

Again, she dipped a hand into the cold, sweet smelling water and heard Tuck's voice in her head

(what we have ain't livin', we just *are*, like rocks by a river)

and she paused. *Did* she want to be like a rock, not really living, but just being?

She found she could not really think of an answer to that and so her mind promptly turned back to Jesse for comfort.

(I won't ever let you go, Winnie Foster)

(I'll love you until my dying day)

(until we meet again, wake with the sun)

She closed her eyes, a bittersweet emotion she could not immediately place flowing through her. Tuck tried once again to warn her that she would be like a rock, but she pushed him away, focusing instead on Jesse's lopsided grin.

She plunged both of her hands into the water and drank deeply.