DISCLAIMER: I don't own His Dark Materials; it is credited to the wonderful imagination of Phillip Pullman.

A/N: There was a lot of wibbling here before, and for that I apologize. This chapter has been revised, although nothing is drastically changed. Please review.

Chapter 1 The Impossible Hope

            The boy slowly entered the garden, looking around and noticing the newly planted roses. A feline walked close by. The boy couldn't see her, but he could feel her. He wandered purposefully towards the back of the garden, while seeming to avoid that spot and something else in his heart - one could see this as plain as day on his face, if there had been anyone else in the small botanical paradise. The boy finally walked to the stone bench, looking down on it and not sitting. He checked his watch – thirty seconds till midday. Looking up at the sun, he speculated whether she was seeing the same brilliant orb. He glanced at his watch again. Seeing that he only had ten seconds, he lowered himself slowly onto the bench. The previously invisible feline appeared at his side and curled up beside him on the bench. They stared at each other, the familiar and intense pain evident on both their expressions. Against his will a memory crept into his mind. The last time he had seen her. Four years ago. Unable to hold it in, the boy started crying silently. Tears streamed down his face in turrets, his shoulders shaking, and yet he made no noise. He looked down at the feline and saw she was crying, too, the memory of her lost love still fresh, despite the unending passage of time. He finally stopped long enough to whisper four words that were lost on the summer wind.

            "I love you, Lyra."

            He looked down again and steeled his feelings, as he had learned to do over the years. He now only broke down at the same time each year, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to push away his memories of his soul mate. Eventually he stood; he had stopped crying and set his jaw in a determined clench as he headed out of the garden, the feline following out of sight again.

***

            Will entered the small flat that was located just off the bustling Main Street of London. He walked through the small, neat sitting room into the kitchen, with the intentions of making lunch. He made an omelet for himself, smiling slightly as he remembered Lyra's reaction to her first omelet. Normally he wouldn't allow himself such a thought, but today was different, it was the one day of the year he allowed himself to feel connected to her, to acknowledge the past. And what a past it had been.

            Settling himself at the kitchen table, the feline, his dæmon, Kirjava, sat on the table next to his plate. She peered at him with her eyes that looked like pools of ink that were filled with pain. He was sure the hurt in his eyes looked just as intense, if not more.

            "It's today," she said quietly.

            "Yes."

            He began to cut his omelet and eat; giving some to the cat with the brilliant coat that would reveal multiple colors in the right light.

            "I don't know if it's worth it."

            He looked at her with a dazed stare of confusion, even though he knew exactly what she was talking about.

            "I don't know what you mean."

            "Yes, you do," she said insistently. He sighed resignedly.

"We go through this every year."

"I know."

"You also know why we don't do what we've been thinking of doing for the past four years."

It was her turn to sigh. "We hold onto an impossible hope. It will never happen. We'll never see them again."

"Hush," he said harshly, "Imagine what Pan would say if he heard you say that."

"Imagine what Lyra would say if she saw how you survived through the year, refusing to acknowledge her existence constantly, except for one day of the year, and only remembering because she told you to. It's pathetic." she retorted in the same hard tone.

He couldn't bear it anymore. But he refused to let the pain rule him.

"She would be happy that I wasn't dwelling on the past," he said fiercely. "Don't say anything else about it."

He returned to eating his meal in silence, subconsciously adding another thing to the list of things he refused to think about. He couldn't help but be worried about Kirjava. She was a part of him, after all. But ever since he had been separated from his soul, his Kirjava, they had become distant; and moved and thought as separate entities rather than as one. If she decided she couldn't suffer anymore and let the pain overtake her, he knew she would destroy both their lives by ridding herself of her mortal coils. He would still be alive afterward, but more like the walking dead. Like poor Tony Makarios and his Ratter.

He shook himself mentally of these thoughts and pushed them, as he had all the thoughts in connection with Lyra, back to his subconscious where he didn't have to think on them willingly. Only in dreams, or rather, nightmares, could he return to this train of thought. And his memories of her.

He still dreamed of her often. He couldn't bar his thoughts as he slept. Her sweet face, confident voice, and strong will always appeared in his dreamt conversations with her. They were his favorite aspects of her character. Usually he would dream of their reunion – in his world or hers. Their dæmons were there, as well, and the four of them would converse with and stay near each other, speaking of love, happiness, of their adventurous past and of better times to come. Lately, though, his dreams of their reunion were slightly disturbing and unnerving.

Being a boy of sixteen, Will's body, as well as his thoughts, had changed. He dreamt of a more passionate reunion with a slightly older Lyra – he would awaken still feeling the after-effects of the dreams, embarrassed with his body's reaction while rushing to the bathroom for a shower with water that was drastically colder than the temperature he normally showered at. He felt it was an insult to Lyra's memory if he were to act upon his body's whims, using her innocent face as his encouragement.

No, he thought to himself, pushing his chair back from the table and picking up his cleared plate, I will not think of that right now.

After rinsing off his dish and washing his hands, splashing some water in his face, Will walked into his tiny room and proceeded to take out his History homework. He went into the sitting room and fell back on the couch ungracefully. He was suddenly hit with another memory he had tried to repress. This one was not of Lyra, however. It was of his mother. Right now he was remembering how his mother would help him with his homework when he was younger. Whenever he would whine and ask her why he should do it, since he would rather be watching his favorite superhero program on television, she would smile gently and brush back a lock of hair from his forehead, telling him softly that the smarter he was, the more clever he would be when trying to elude the enemies. He had long known that there weren't any real enemies, but he hadn't wanted to disappoint his mother, so he would obediently open his books and start his homework, asking for her help occasionally. He knew now that he was still obeying her in the present, even though he didn't have any enemies, and his mother could no longer supervise him.

She had died a little over two years ago. Already unstable with her late husband's disappearance ten years before Will disappeared for a long time, she had crossed the line from slight insanity – where she would still come back to herself occasionally – to complete madness; she lived in a world of shadows; not unlike the city of Cittagazze in another universe, where enemies constantly chased her and no one could save her, not even Will. By the time he had returned, his mother's caretaker had placed her in a mental hospital, where she could be taken care of fully. And then, more than two years before on the anniversary of his father's disappearance, she had suffocated herself with her own pillow.

Now Will's mother lived only in the back of his mind; easier to not think of and remember because she had never been there for him completely in her mind and soul.

He sighed as he opened his History text. Only today of all days he felt he was going to sink into a deep depression. The only way to stop him from being consumed by it was to avoid it. He threw himself whole-heartedly into reading a chapter on dictators in Latin American countries.

An hour later he was deeply engrossed in the horrific history of the Trujillo era when the front door of the small flat burst open, revealing a flustered dark hair woman who was looking frantic and wild-eyed. He thought he saw what looked like pure ecstasy and hope etched on her fine features.

"Will!" she exclaimed. She dropped her shoulder bag and rushed over to him, her eyes twinkling. Mary Malone hadn't looked so excited or happy in years, and Will couldn't help feeling his spirits lift by her exultant mood.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I think – I think I've found a way!"

"A way to what?"

"To Lyra's world."