It was today.

Lyra took a deep breath, trying to force the oxygen all the way to her fingertips so that they would stop shaking so much.  It was just another day, she told herself anxiously, knowing fully well that her talent for lying did not extend to fooling herself.  Her hands were still quaking and she crushed them together, lacing her fingers together tightly.  The perspiration on her palms made her feel clammy and uncomfortable, but she ignored it.  She took another deep breath.


Shifting her gaze downward, she saw Pantalaimon trotting beside her, his gaze full of concern.  He, too, was nervous; she could feel it.  She noted, however, that he was much better at covering it up.  "Lyra, slow down, everything will be fine." He said soothingly, encouraging her to stop walking at such a quick pace.  His look was so loving that she found she couldn't deny him, and obliged his request.

Unclasping her hands she brought one to her face, massaging her right temple.  She'd had a raging headache ever since she'd woken up in the morning, and it showed no signs of abating.  She supposed it was just nerves.  She'd been looking forward to this day for so long and all of a sudden her excitement had changed to dread.  She whispered softly, so that only Pan could hear, "I'm so afraid.  I don't know if I can do it."

He rubbed against her leg, "Lyra—"

"What if he doesn't come?" she burst, very near being delirious, "What if he's already found another girl from his own world that is prettier and smarter and he has forgotten all about me?"

"He hasn't." Pan stated simply, comforting her as best he could.  "He couldn't find a prettier or smarter girl if he tried."

She paused, leaning down to scoop Pan up in her arms and bury her head in his strangely colored fur.  "Thank you." She said after a few moments, hugging his body to hers.  "I'm just so frightened that he won't show up and I'll sit there for an hour like an imbecile and be none the wiser."

Squirming out of her arms and jumping back down to the ground, Pan shook his head.  "I don't think he'd do that." He paused, before speaking again, "I feel like we're all connected.  You and Will.  Kirjava and me.  I think I'd know if he had done something like that.  I think I'd be able to feel it, in my heart."

For a moment, Lyra simply stared at her daemon in disbelief.  Then she nodded, slowly, agreeing with him.  "Yeah, I know what you mean, I think.  The connection.  Sometimes I'm just standing there and all of a sudden I'll feel as though I'm back in his arms." Her eyes closed in a short reverie, relishing the memory of those encounters.  Pan could see it was painful for her to open them again, knowing that those moments were gone and she would not get any more chances for them until death.

"C'mon," he urged, butting his nose against her ankle, "It's right up here."

Together, they walked into the gardens, making a straight line toward the bench.  All of a sudden, Lyra felt as if she would explode if she didn't get to sit there immediately.  Her heart was pounding in her ears, urging her to get there as quickly as she possibly could.  She broke into a slow jog and nearly began sobbing as the bench came into view—

—with a stranger sitting on it.

She blanched.  What right did some strange man have to come in and sit at that bench on Midsummer's day?  Her face contorted into anger at his blatant audacity.  How could he even consider doing something so heinous, so horrible…?  Tears sprang to her eyes as she ran up to the man, angry words on her tongue.

"Leave!" she cried, finger pointing away from the bench, "Leave this instant!"

The man looked up from his book, confused.  "Do I know you?"

"Leave right now!" she approached him as if to pummel him, "Leave or I'll…I'll…"  her sobs interrupted her sentence, but it didn't matter.  The man had left quickly, looking over his shoulder at the sobbing girl as if she were mentally unstable.  She collapsed onto the bench, her body shaking with the force of her cries.  She whispered Will's name several times, stroking the cold stone of the bench with her fingers.

Pan nuzzled softly at her leg before jumping onto the bench beside her.  He rested his head against her fingers, murmuring sweet comforts to her.  She listened to his words with gratitude, but they did nothing to ease the horrible pain in her heart.  She felt as if she'd never truly be whole again.

Suddenly, Pan began to talk loudly and urgently.  "Lyra!  Lyra!  Stop moaning and look at this!"  It took him a few nudges before she brokenly picked herself up off the bench and rubbed a hand across her eyes.

"What, Pan?" she asked hotly, not in the mood to be disturbed.

"Look!" he said, motioning to a certain spot on the bench with his head.

She slid over a half foot to where she could have a better look, and a lump promptly rose to her throat.  Suppressed tears threatened to spill once more, this time for the joy and the heartbreak she was feeling at the same time.  Scratched into the stone was a small message:


She spent the next hour scratching away at the same bench with a hard stone Pan had found on the ground.  She wasn't sure that Will was still there, but she knew he'd see it eventually see her message.


She traced the letters with a finger sadly, like they were carved in porcelain rather than ordinary stone.  Bringing her palm to her lips and then placing the same palm against her message, she called for Pan.  They walked home together.

If he didn't see it this year, he'd see it the next.  And the year after, and the year after that. 

Disclaimer:  I don't own the His Dark Materials series.

A/N:  This is my first HDM fic on  I'm not sure if this is acceptable or what, and I'd really like some feedback on what I should fix and what was correct, etc.  I'm mainly an HP writer, so this is kind of new for me.  Constructive criticism would be totally awesome.  I'd like to write more fics for this category and some feedback would be awesome and would totally help me to adapt.  Anywho', thanks for reading.  Please RR.