Note: I'm so freakishly excited. I haven't written something like this since...well, since DitT. My mind has turned into a coliseum where plot bunnies do battle to decide what story shall be written. This fic won. I'm pretty excited about it, but well…oh, who am I kidding, no one reads the notes anyway. XD
Disclaimer: Harvest Moon continues to belong to someone other than The Scarlet Sky. Dang it.
"I love you."
Sprawled out on the soft grass, I tilted my head towards him, his sun-weathered face smiling in a sea of toy flowers. Warm breath tickled my cheeks, and his dark eyes sparkled in the soft glow of the blue flowers overhead. His hand reached out to my long curls of brown hair, and running through them with his fingers, he whispered, "You know that, don't you? I love you, Celia."
My lips parted slightly, but I didn't want to reply; words would only spoil this perfect moment. Instead, I nestled closer to him, sighing in satisfaction as his arms wrapped around me, holding me tight. I didn't want him to let go. I didn't want to move. I didn't want to speak.
The wind cast breezes on the grass that had become our pillow, ruffling it slightly and causing the flowers to sway on their stems. The scent of their blossoms traveled on the air, and as I became drowsy, I closed my eyes.
The precious words cut through the silence, threatening to end the perfection of the early dawn. His words answered mine: "What is it?"
I squirmed slightly, the folds of my clothes brushing up against his own. "Can we somehow…make this morning last forever?"
Gentle laughter came from his lips, and he murmured, "Celia, I can promise to love you just as much as I do right now: today, tomorrow, and always. I'll always be there for you."
I opened one eye, and his genuine smile washed away my nagging doubts. "You promise?" I still persisted, my voice wavering.
His hand strayed from my long silky tresses to my womb, and stroking the life we had created within me, he whispered, "I promise you. I promise…all three of us."
Slowly, his mouth reached mine, and gratefully I let him steal the power of voice from my lips. We let the morning drag on as long as the sun pleased, lingering for us until the first cock crowed, ending the magic of the dawn but leaving the promise of forever.
But that was Spring, and this is Winter.
Each step leaves an imprint on the white ground, curtaining the grass that used to cushion our tired and weary bodies. Flowers have wilted onto the soil, and even the light of the forest can't wipe away the gloom of the winter morning. I clutch my shawl tighter about me; I can see my breath become mist in the frigid air.
Everything is frozen. Everything is dead.
My pulse generates the only heat around me, a single burning flame of light in the darkness of winter. I close my eyes again, and I can hear that promise—I can hear his voice, I can see his laughing eyes, I can feel his touch.
Back when everything was alive.
Here was the place where love became real, where fears gave way to courage, where promises were forged. This dead place was a sanctuary—an escape from the work and toil and anxieties of the real world.
Now it's a cemetery.
I kneel down before the single stone on this white land—something new, something that would stain its fields forever. Trembling, I pull a worn-out glove off of my hand and let my fingers stroke the stone, leaving trails across its frosted surface.
The ceremony had been brief and elegant; I couldn't complain. Vesta had taken my left hand and Muffy my right, squeezing circulation in my otherwise dying body—after all, half of me lay buried. The tears froze upon my cheeks, and I had let them lay there, the unseen trails they left my battle scars.
But Muffy and Vesta aren't here now. I'm standing in this place alone.
My hand is shaking as I grasp a drooping flower. The lettering stares at me on the grave, and I know what it says: I've seen it. I don't want to believe it, but the words carved in stone can't lie to me. I pry my fingers one by one off the blossom, watching it fall from my hands onto the ground. Bright yellow petals glimmer on a white background—petals from another time, another Spring.
But it's Winter now. Spring is dead.