A bit depressing, I know, but I was in a weird mood yesterday.
This takes place right at the end of The Amber Spyglass, only Lyra opted to go and live with Will rather than be separated from him.
I know Will was originally from Winchester, but I like Oxford so much better. Takes place from Will's point of view.
You know it's selfish. You know it in your very heart and very soul, but you just can't let Lyra slip through your fingers and spend the rest of your very changed, very different life wondering what could have been. You don't want to find some other, ordinary girl to grow up with and marry. You don't want to spend "till death do us part" comparing her to Lyra.
The angel frowns, and the witch begrudgingly agrees, and you watch Lyra stare into space as she says goodbye to her world, her Oxford, forever.
She sheds a tear or two, one for Serafina, a couple for her parents, several for Lee Scoresby and Iorek, but then she turns to you with more joy and excitement than you've ever seen on her defiant, rosy face.
You both know what's going to happen. You both know it's going to be about ten years before Lyra will be too weak to handle being out of her own world and pass on into the place you've built together.
But ten years is a long time to a thirteen-year-old. You'd never dream that they would pass as fast as your first ten years on earth.
It feels like a miracle—Lyra's still healthy. Lyra is totally and completely fine. She hasn't even caught wind of the annual cold that you and your mother always catch around the winter holidays.
You spend much of your time showing Lyra around your Oxford. She's simply fascinated by so many ordinary things that have existed for years and years in your world. You take her to the cinema and she watches the moving pictures with childlike wonder. You take her to a little coffee shop and order her a hot chocolate that she proudly declares is "the best chocolatl she's ever tasted." You even try dragging her into a Burger King, but that's where she outright refuses.
Everything is peaceful, everything happy. Your mother is in safe arms and Mary Malone has dragged you out of quite a few tight spots. Everything is going so perfectly that you even begin to doubt that your father's words of only ten years. The way things are going, you believe that you and Lyra are going to live forever.
You and Lyra despise school.
You've hated it since you were little because it made sheltering your mother all the more harder; she hates it because she's never had any proper, formal education. But Mary badgered you both and insisted that you enroll in school, any old school, just for the sake of being able to get a job later on.
The only thing that gets you through each monotone day is that you and Lyra are still, and will always be, together. You have many of the same classes. You share the same lunch.
Sometimes the other kids make fun of the pair of you, especially singling out Lyra. You almost have to physically hold her back sometimes to keep her from tackling the girls who make fun of her for wearing what they call 'library lady' clothes—two years here and she still refuses to wear jeans. That's one of the things you love about her, though—her refusal to conform to your society. You proudly defend her unusual style.
That's when all the kids at your school start to whisper that you and Lyra are a couple. Neither of you mind, because you both know it's true.
The two of you graduate from secondary school and it's the proudest day of your shared life.
When your teachers ask you what you think you'll study in university, you immediately answer, "Medicine." Of all the professions in the world, it's the only one that calls to you. You also think of it as a good way to be able to care for Lyra in case she does start withering away.
Out of curiosity, you ask your teachers what a good future for Lyra will be. The teachers just frown at you and tell you to take her to a doctor; she's been looking a little peaky lately.
You're both eighteen now, and as tradition goes, you get down on one knee and propose to the love of your life.
She tackles you and knocks you to the ground, she's so happy. Pan and Kirjava gleefully roll around on the floor; you haven't felt such strong feelings for her since you both confessed that you loved each other about five years ago.
You can't help but notice as she lies on top of you that she's a lot thinner than she used to be—and that's saying something, seeing as she was already kind of skinny in the first place.
You have a summer wedding, a small ceremony in the Botanic Gardens. Mrs. Cooper, your old piano teacher, is there, as is your mother and Mary. As addled as your mother is, you can sense that she knows what's going on today, and what's going on is making both you and Lyra, her pseudo-daughter, very happy.
Both you and Lyra laugh when you exchange rings. Your golden wedding ring must go on the middle finger of your right hand, seeing as that Knife caused you to loose your ring finger.
You don't mind. It doesn't take away from the occasion at all.
There is a definite change in Lyra now.
There are deep circles under her pale-blue eyes. Her fingers are thin and bone-like now. Her thick, dark-blonde hair is starting to thin out a little. Even Pan's red-gold fur has lost some of its luster.
You can count on one hand the number of years you have left before she may pass away. Four. Just four. That's barely any time at all.
In an effort to get some fresh air into her lungs, you and Lyra walk down to the playing fields at the local primary school. She sits in the bleachers, gently stroking Pan while you run around the daisy-dotted grass, kicking a forgotten soccer ball.
The wind rushes past your face in a strong breeze, and you turn to look back at Lyra for a minute. She's not watching you, but staring off into space, into other worlds. The wind has blown her hair all in her face and she's wearing nothing but an old t-shirt and a pair of shorts, but you've never thought that she's looked more beautiful.
You kind of want kids.
You suggest this idea to Lyra and she nods fervently.
Neither of you say aloud what you're both thinking—you want somebody to remember Lyra by, tangible proof that the two of you were meant to be.
You take Lyra to a doctor to see if having kids is right, is possible.
The doctor takes a lot of tests—almost too many, in your opinion. You squeeze Lyra's frail little hand tight as the doctor says that the two of you could have a child, but something was obviously very wrong with Lyra, and it was suggested that he take her to a doctor immediately.
Both of you know that it's nothing that any doctor here could cure. You both put aside the idea of children.
Lyra wants you to get out of the house, to go back to medical school, to get a real job instead of just sitting around watching her get weaker by the second. You feel very Lyra-ish yourself when you paste a stubborn expression on your face and firmly tell her, "No."
You try everything you can to pump the life back into her again. You tell her stories of the days she used to run around throwing clay at the brickburners' children, you give her second helpings of every meal, and you make her take walks twice daily.
You know it's a lost cause when your nosy, prying neighbors begin to ask if your wife, your everything, has been feeling okay lately.
You ask Lyra what you should tell the neighbors. She lies, of course—it's her specialty after all.
"I have cancer," she says to anyone who asks. And with her skinny body and thinning hair, they don't doubt it for a minute.
Of course, then they start to ask if it's terminal.
You say that you don't quite know.
Lyra's wedding ring doesn't fit around her finger anymore. Your mother absentmindedly gives her a chain so that she may wear it around her neck.
In desperation, you ask Mary what you can do. Mary, however, only tells you what you don't want to hear.
"You know what your father said, Will," she patiently explains. "You knew the risk you were taking when you asked her to come live in her world. Nearly all the portals to her worlds must be closed by now. There's not much you can do."
For the first time since you were just a naïve thirteen-year-old, you feel selfish again. And you hate yourself for that.
You don't want your father to be right. Oh, but he is.
Lyra hasn't left the bed for three days now. Mary has had to come and help around the house, bring the two of you food and water and the paper because you refuse to leave Lyra's side.
"I love you," you whisper, trying so very hard not to let tears slip down your face. "You know that, right?"
"Of course I do," she rasps, with some difficulty. "I love you, too."
Pan's curled up in a limp little ball near her clammy neck; you want to exhibit some of the same bravery you did when you were thirteen and reach out and touch him, but you're scared that he'll poof out from underneath your fingers if you do.
"Will," Lyra croaks. She grabs onto your wrist with a strong sense of urgency and for a moment you feel hope, you think that she's got her strength back, that she's going to live. You wind your fingers into her and look into her bulging pale-blue eyes.
But when you look into her pale, sweating face, you know this can't be true.
"Will," she sighs, a sort of satisfaction in her tone.
Her grip goes slack in yours and Pan gives you one last wise look before he disappears altogether.
The girl who brought about an end to death is now gone.