Fireflies in the Dark
Don't be afraid if I fly.
A bird in a cage will forget how to sing;
You can trust me,
Give me wings.
She had a smile so soft and gentle and utterly happy that it reminded him of warm summer nights and fireflies in the dark. The first time he had seen it, it was as if a knob had been turned in his heart; he remembered capturing fireflies in glass jars and keeping them in his room at night, watching as they lit up over and over again until he fell asleep.
He wondered if it was possible to catch a smile.
Weeks passed, and he thought about her more often. She was…amazing. Words could never do Lyndis justice. Before he knew it, he was caught up in her. She was unpredictable, but never impulsive, beautiful, but never vain, proud, but never conceited.
She was a noble, but always a commoner. She talked to everyone as if they were her friends, eating and associating with them every night as if she cared; that intrigued him, because he knew that she did care.
When she had risked her own life to help him in battle, it sealed his fate. With tender concern in her eyes, she'd helped him stand and let him lean on her as she led him to the clerics. He had needed her help, though it had been difficult to admit. It was his job to be there for her, not the other way around.
"Kent," she said, years later, from the circle of his arms.
He paused, his lips hovering over the sensitive skin between her neck and shoulder. "Yes?" He felt her shiver as his lips met with her warm skin.
"I need to go."
Those words stung, but he couldn't let her see how much. He felt suddenly cold. "Where?" he asked hoarsely, pulling away.
The fire crackled in the hearth on the other side of the room, and she let her fingertips sweep his bangs aside. "Home."
One word that hurt more than any other. He'd thought that there was something there, between them, that it was love. Home was where the heart was, he thought, but if she wanted to leave, her heart was not with him. "Now?" The question was bitter on his tongue.
She nodded, and he followed her gaze to a satchel that no doubt held everything she needed for her journey. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner," she said, her voice trembling just the slightest bit. "But I…"
"It was expected," he interrupted before she could think to continue, "that you would leave. Lord Hausen has been dead well over a year, now." He left her on the bed and went to stand by the window. Calm and collected, he thought absently to himself as he looked through the warped glass. He would never want her to see how easily she could hurt him, how weak and fragile he sometimes felt around her. The tiny pinpricks of light in the courtyard were a welcome distraction from her eyes.
"I'm sorry…" Her whisper was faint, and he almost didn't hear it over the symphony of crickets and the painful beat of his heart.
The pane of glass was cool against his forehead.
"I know that I'm being selfish," she began, hugging her light quilt against her bare chest.
For a long moment, he felt disinclined to answer. Selfish? Well, perhaps she was. But was he any better?
"When I was young," he said, and closed his eyes as the window fogged with his breath, "I would go out at dusk and catch fireflies in jars."
Lyn tilted her head to the side curiously. No doubt she thought the idea silly.
"Once the jar was full, I put it in my room and watched them light up until I fell asleep… Most of the children I knew did it in the warm months. There was…something soothing about capturing something so beautiful simply to have…to look at."
He heard her shift positions, but she didn't speak.
"In the morning," he continued, turning to see her sitting on the edge of the bed, "the jar was always gone." The quilt scarcely covered her body, and the moonlight that spilled through the open windows made her skin glow.
"What happened to it?" she asked when he said nothing further.
There was something terribly endearing about her when she asked a question out of curiosity—her wide eyes, the tilt of her head, her parted lips. He moved to stand in front of her and took her hands; the quilt slid out of her grip to rest against her lap.
His voice sounded strangely hollow as he spoke, "Mother came to throw them out before I awoke."
Her eyebrows scrunched together in confusion.
"The privilege of capturing something beautiful had a price. I could catch the fireflies, but I was selfish in doing so; because I kept them in the jar to look at, they suffocated before morning came." His lips brushed over her knuckles, and his voice tapered to a whisper. "I do not wish for my selfishness to cause you pain."
She gently tugged at him, and he sat beside her on the bed. Her hands slid out of his and clasped behind his neck. "Kent," she whispered, her breath tickling his ear. "You could have watched them and let them go free."
His shoulders hunched slightly, and he leaned against her. "How?" he murmured. "How could I have had both?"
She chuckled, kissing his cheek. "By sleeping outside," she said.
She said, Up above the clouds,
You can see forever,
And I know you and I can learn to fly…
If you love me,
Give me wings.
I'm really happy with how this turned out. Constructive criticism—or any feedback at all—would be greatly appreciated. The lyrics are from the song, "Give Me Wings" by Michael Johnson.