By Laura Schiller

Based on: The Blue Castle

Copyright: Characters – L. M. Montgomery; song lyrics – Taylor Swift.

Valancy leaned back against the Grey Slossom's worn leather passenger seat and closed her eyes, taking deep breaths. Her thoughts and feelings whirled like a small hurricane – relief at having escaped the Chidley Corners dance, embarrassment at having been caught there by Barney, and a certain warm glow of joy that he had come to rescue her. Lady Jane, coughing and rattling like a consumptive old lady, was not exactly a suitable vehicle for relaxation, but that was just what Valancy needed. And the longer she sat there in companionable silence with Barney, the more she did relax. Funny; she had always been afraid of cars, and if any car was a danger to its passengers, this clanging hunk of junk was it. But strangely enough, she'd never felt so safe in her life.

There's somethin' 'bout the way
the street looks when it's just rained:
there's a glow on the pavement.
You walk me to the car
and you know, I wanna ask you to dance right there
in the middle of the parking lot...yeah!

It was a spring night, warm and velvety with the aftermath of a soft rain. Valancy opened her tired eyes to watch the headlights on the road. Their golden trail was bright on the rain-slick pavement, lending an almost magical air to the ordinary cement in front of her. She was about to comment on it, but with a sidelong glance at Barney, decided not to. It was perfect like this – no need for talking.

We're drivin' down the road –
I wonder if you know –
I'm tryin' so hard not to get caught up now.
But you're just so cool,
run your hands through your hair –
absent-mindedly makin' me want you!

He really had the most fascinating face. Pale, thin and angular, with mischief and sweetness in his brown eyes and a wry twist to his mouth. He had mismatched eyebrows, ears that stuck out the slightest bit, and a tousled mane of tawny reddish hair. As she watched, he pushed a strand of it back from his eyes, absently, as if he couldn't care less whether his hair was in order as long as he could see past it. Not like Cecil Bruce, with his slick blond ducktail and pouty lips. No, Barney's face had charm and character; she could imagine him looking just as interesting, or even more, in his old age.

And I don't know how it gets better than this:
You take my hand and drag me headfirst – fearless!
And I don't know why, but with you I'd dance
in a storm in my best dress – fearless!

She remembered how he had vaulted through the window at the dance, helped her out, then kept a tight, protective grip on her hand as they rushed headlong down the road to find his car. The breathless, half-frightened, half-excited thrill of it made her heart pound like a hammer; she half-expected one of her attacks to come on, and was duly thankful when none did.

So, baby, drive slow 'til we run out of road

in this one horse town; I wanna stay right here.

In this passenger seat
you put your eyes on me –
and this moment, I'll capture it, remember it!

"Out of gas," said Barney ruefully, poking his head through her window. "We might have to stay here all night."

"I don't mind." And she didn't. The rational part of her knew she ought to be worried, but she was too happy to care.

"Well, if you don't, I needn't. Besides, I've got no reputation to lose in the first place."

Valancy smiled. Of course not – notorious criminal that he was, even with no evidence. She was alone, in the middle of the night, with a man who made her feel like the wind singing in the pines – wild and free. God bless Lady Jane for running out of gas!

'Cause I don't know how it gets better than this:
You take my hand and drag me headfirst: fearless!
And I don't know why, but with you I'd dance
in a storm in my best dress: fearless!

A while later – was it days or weeks? She hardly knew; time passed so quickly for her now – Valancy found herself standing on the threshold of her own little Blue Castle. It was not nearly as large or grand as the one in her dreams, but as long as her Prince was there, nothing in the world mattered.

If fear was 'the original sin', as John Foster said, Valancy was newly baptized; her entire being felt as fresh and clean and sparkling as if she had never known its stain in her life.

"Welcome home, dear," said Barney, and kissed her.

Well, you stand there with me in the doorway.
My hands shake; I'm not usually this way, but...
You pull me in and I'm a little more brave -
It's the first kiss,
it's flawless,
really something...
it's fearless.