The Day You Hoped Would Never Come
She stood, not moving, barely breathing, as the glow faded. A single feather had floated to rest on the surface of her desk. It lay against and was reflected in the surface of a single, clear crystal orb. Sarah closed her eyes and hoped, wished, pleaded with whoever was listening that when she opened them again the reminder of her worst nightmare would be gone. That it would simply be that – a nightmare. Scene after scene flashed onto the backs of her eyelids – castles, stone walls, creatures she had never dreamed she could imagine, the strange half twilight – and him. She shook her head as if to clear it, and then opened her eyes slowly. In the half light shining into her room from the moonlit window she could see it there – and her stomach dropped.
This couldn't be happening again, could it? Why?
A part of her had hoped that the whole experience was nothing more than a terrible dream, while another part of her had blindly hoped that such a world could truly exist – that the lands of her beloved stories were reality, and magic was real. Even as she sat at her dresser after it was all over, and put away her toys and, she felt, her childhood, some part of her mind desperately wanted to believe. As time went by, reality set in. Magic wasn't real - there was only life, normal and mundane. Toby grew into a beautiful child - as mischievous and lively as ever - and Sarah did her best to be a good sister to him. She stopped yelling at her stepmother every time she tried to talk to her, and began to realize over time that she wasn't the evil witch from a fairytale. She was just a woman who had inherited a grown up daughter, a daughter who she had almost no influence over. Sarah's mother had filled such a large part of her fantasies – she had always imagined that one day she would come back, with open arms and love in her eyes. But that was never going to happen. So Sarah listened instead of arguing and grew and felt a little wiser at the end of it. Life went on.
Now in college, she lived within an hour's drive of her family, and visited on weekends. Toby had started school recently, and he wreaked havoc on his teachers – but in such a charming way that they couldn't help but adore him. Big blue eyes and tousled blond curls meant he could get away with almost anything he wanted to. Sarah loved him and played with him whenever he demanded her attention – which was often. Her father smiled quietly behind the newspaper from his chair in the corner and was glad his baby girl was growing up and learning to give to others.
She was... happy.
But now... the door of her mind was opening, and try as she may she could not stem the flood of emotions overwhelming her. Her knees finally gave, and she sank, shaking, to the floor. Her eyes were still fixed on the tabletop, at the object that had shattered her peace. One tremulous hand reached slowly up. As her fingers touched its clear surface, a cold shock of energy jolted through her, like being stabbed in the heart with an icicle. She threw herself backwards and the breath was driven from her as she slammed into the side of her bed frame. She gasped and sucked air into her lungs, chest heaving and eyes fixed on the orb. As she gritted her teeth against the ache that was developing in her back – she would have a huge bruise tomorrow, she could feel it – she stood slowly. Taking a step forward, she reached her protesting hand out again – and this time did not pull away as her fingers closed on its smooth surface. She had to know. Her body reacted to the shock less this time, and her fingers closed fully around the orb.
Images flashed through her mind
Mismatched eyes, shock of pale hair.
Long fingers reaching towards her.
A rain of white feathers.
A small smile, faintly amused.
Sharply sweeping brows.
The moon, full and shining.
The images moved faster and faster and then began to meld, and before she knew, she was looking at him – just as she had remembered him so long ago – beautiful and terrible. Dressed all in black, his eyes fixed on her. Everything she had wanted and everything she had tried to forget. She felt as though she was fifteen again and seeing him for the first time. His predatory gaze had her pinned to the spot, unable to move. She saw that smile appear, slowly, and couldn't tear her gaze away from his face. The sight of him froze the blood in her veins and caused her heart to erupt into flames. She watched one hand move towards her, and felt its gloved fingers touch her face. His fingers moved to comb softly through her hair, sending tremors through her.
"Why..." her voice wouldn't rise above a whisper. His smile widened.
"Sarah..." she felt a jolt as she heard the sound of his voice, for the first time in years – just as she had remembered it. "Sarah, surely you didn't think you had escaped?" His eyes narrowed a little and one side of his mouth tipped up.
"What do you," she swallowed and her voice came clearer "What do you mean? What are you doing here?" His hand dropped from her face to the hand which still held the orb in a white knuckled grip. He opened her fingers with his own and exposed the clear globe on her palm. Its surface glowed lightly and threw his features into sharp relief.
"Even if you get to the center..." in her mind she heard the dwarf Hoggle finish the sentence "...you'll never get out again." Her eyes opened wide as she digested this.
"You mean... No. That's not..." she stopped herself from repeating her once-overused mantra – she thought she had grown out of that long ago. "Why?" she asked again.
"You don't know? Sarah, you aren't a child any longer. Look."
He lifted the crystal up so she could see the images forming in it. Herself, running on and on, not knowing he watched her the whole time. Him - weaving her dreams, giving her that which she wanted - and her throwing it back in his face. Him offering her everything he had, and her refusing. His solitude, surrounded only by goblins that were like disobedient children. Nights spent alone. She saw and felt his side of it, and the realization came to her – he wanted her. He had always wanted her. From the moment he had first seen her, until now. She had been too young to see it then, but now the full import of what he had offered struck her.
"I won't take you, Sarah..."
She looked away from the orb and into his eyes, seeing now what she hadn't been able to before. They were dark with some emotion she didn't dare define and seemed to glow from within at the same time. She felt her breath catch again and her heart began to thud almost painfully in her chest. Almost before she knew what was happening, his free hand was behind her neck and his mouth was on hers. For the third time that night, a shock went through her body at the contact – his lips were warm and gentle on hers, his fingers on her neck, his body pressed close to her. Some instinct within her was screaming a warning, but was drowned out. The hand that clasped hers and the orb was pressed against his heart, and she could feel it beating hard just as hers was. For a moment, they seemed to be breathing the same breath and then he broke the kiss. She was reeling – her mind and body not quite able to fully comprehend what had just happened. He leaned down until his mouth was nearly touching the side of her neck and whispered.
"Sarah..." his breath was warm "come back with me. Be my Queen. And I will give you everything you want..." his words echoed the first invitation he had given, and Sarah felt as though time and reality had faded from around them. She reached up one hand and tentatively touched his face. He raised his head so that he was looking her in the eyes again, and the hand that had cradled the back of her neck came around to cover her own. His eyes closed for a moment, and then opened again. She couldn't think, she was having trouble remembering to breathe, and some part of her thought she might be dreaming.
"I... but why me? I'm just..." She looked down at herself. She was just ordinary. Human. Nobody. He grasped her chin and turned her face upwards towards his. His eyes burned into her.
"Didn't I tell you? This," he squeezed her hand and the orb, "is no gift for an ordinary girl. You defied me. You challenged me. You wanted me and yet managed to break free when I gave you what you wanted. No other dared to stand up to me, and no other has taken from me what I wanted. No one else tried..."
Again, before she could think, his head lowered and his lips had caught hers, and were less gentle this time and more persistent. He deepened their kiss, his tongue searching, and she opened her lips to allow him in. His hand pressed into her back, holding her closely to him, molding their bodies together. The fire burning in her heart began to spread through her body and melt the frozen blood in her veins, and she felt all those emotions she had tried for so long to forget flare into being. The longing, the wishing, the hoping – and now here he was - just as she had dreamed. An ache was building low in her belly, and her breath was coming in short gasps when he finally broke away. Her lips were swollen and her face flushed, and she saw his eyes, though half closed, had darkened even more.
"Come..." he held up the orb once more. She looked past it and saw only him.
"I wish... the goblins would come and take me away. Right now."