She lives in her dreams; She dreams she lives

She kisses Dickon for the first time when she's eleven, and then she scampers away into the ivy and he laughs and runs to the moor.

Dickon goes to war, she goes to boarding school.

The dank air of the city has never been agreeable to her, and nothing is agreeable when she knows he's fighting on windswept plains filled with death instead of life.

Mistress Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?

She returns to the garden in her sleep, traces the patterns in stone and outlines the statues in moonlight. Starlight and covered tracks that remind her of the boy who couldn't walk and the boy who couldn't stop living. Mary dreams of Dickon that night and they sit in the old swing, turned opposite ways, and they stare and stare and she erases every thought he ever had of war.

Mary remembers nights where they made magic and called life back to Misselthwaite. She remembers the secret passageways, and crying in the dark because it was too lonely for words. Mary remembers Dickon holding her there before he left.

Mary returns to Misselthwaite. Dickon does too. She finds it too tragic that the moor still thrives, as does the garden, when he can't sleep and his eyes stare off into the dead plains of war.

She thinks it cruel that the moor has not died too, as if it is just a way to say that he and life, he and nature aren't the same thing. As if it only wants to widen the gulf and give him one more thing to mourn.

Because she can tell, when she looks at him. Mary looks at Dickon when he stares at the grounds, and she can tell from the distance his eyes take, the slightly parted mouth and the eyes of dreams and horror, that he sees the moor and feels rejected because it is no longer who he is.

Those at the manor were delighted the two of them had arrived home. Colin wasn't due back for a month, busy at professional photography, or something, it was so hard to tell those days. There were parties, there were grand dinners, and Dickon stayed at the manor because he didn't feel comfortable around his siblings anymore. They wanted to know of war, and of the glory of serving England, and he couldn't bear to spoil their fun.

Lightning brightens the room, and clap of thunder that shakes the house wakes Mary from a light slumber. She watches from her window for a short time, and then decides she wants to feel lonely tonight.

Clumsily, she rediscovers the old door and the dusty passage that lies behind the walls. And slowly, she strolls and feels alive in the darkness and great noise.

When she sees Dickon, he is not sitting or crouching in a corner, languidly stretched with a contented half-smile. Those sights are only in her dreams.

He is standing, stock still in the glow of a window. His arms are behind him, as if he was given a command of "at ease" and he is obeying tirelessly until the next Great War.

She nearly starts to cry then.

Dickon's already seen her; she gives no introduction. They are the only ones awake, Dickon still in day clothes and Mary in a long, white nightgown.

They do not know what to say, there is so much that has been said with only motion and emotion. So she slips her hand into his and he abruptly starts to talk.

"Storms aren't the same anymore."

She turns and faces him, envisioning battlefields and trenches, sick men drowning in rain and disease. She pictures him, drowning in death.

Her eyes are glistening—he can see them in the flashes of the light—and all she can think to say comes out in a burst of sob.

"I'm so sorry…!"

And she quietly repeats, "Dickon, I'm so sorry."

He turns back to the storm and states impassively, though not unkindly, "You know, Mary, I think you're truly the only one that understands."

Right then and there she wants nothing more than to throw her arms around him, but all she is able to muster is to grab his other hand with her own and make him face her.

For a moment, she merely gapes at him in the inability to speak, paralyzed with the tragedy of the moment, and then tears starts to gather in her eyes and she tries to scream but it only come out in desperate whisper, "…come back to life Dickon…! Please…please…come back to me."

When he starts to speak, stuttering, eyes wide with terror or anger or merely the storm, she can't tell—"Mary, I don't know how to…"—she cuts him off by kissing him hard and hugging his solid body close to her own.

That night, they make magic again in an entirely new way. It is physical and it is more than anything she ever allowed herself to dream of, and she wants nothing more afterwards to tell him, see, Dickon, we're both so alive, I told you, but says nothing, because she can tell he already knows.

It is one o'clock in the morning when they go to the garden. The rain has stopped and now everything is only dark and wet.

They speak quietly and sometimes bursts of laughter interrupt the night. He strokes her back and she smiles, whispers that she loves him, and he responds by saying that the only thing that kept him alive was thinking of her.

They arrive at the garden and trace the patterns of wick ivy and stone walls with their palms. She speaks ancient rhymes and he speaks of India and her lilies.

In the moonlight, they stroll calmly, meandering through the passages and hidden doorways, hands entwined.

She knows it is only one night, but she thinks it means more than any night has ever meant before. Dickon thinks the garden is beautiful, and Mary knows she has never loved anything more than him.

Mary is with Dickon that night and they sit in the old swing, turned opposite ways, and they stare and stare and she erases every thought he ever had of war.

A/N- Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed! This is my first Secret Garden fic, and I'd love, beyond belief, to get some constructive reviews.