From The Garden

She ran, ran away from the garden. Her feet were flying in front of her and her dress trailing behind.

"Mary!" I called after her, but she didn't stop, instead she yelled something back to me.

"I'm not wanted!" her soft, hurting voice touched my soul like it never had before. I felt my heart fall as I watched her run away.

Instinctively I ran after her, my feet moving as fast as they could.

"Mary!" I yelled again, but she didn't answer. She was running so quickly that I could only see then ed of her skirt going around one shrub and behind another.

Finally there was nothing more to follow; she had stopped running and was crying into a bush. I slowly walked up to her and placed my hand onto her back. She jerked away from me, her shoulder flying back into my hand. When she looked at me I almost gasped. There were tears, real tears, rolling down her face.

She walked through the ivy-covered archway and sat down on the open moor. I walked to her and lowered myself down as well. Gently, I put my arm around her shoulders and she leaned into me.

"Now Miss Mary, what's got thee troubled?" I asked.

"Nobody wants me," she whispered to me. My heart sighed for her.

"But I want thee Miss Mary, I love thee," I whispered back to her. She sat up straight and looked at me.

"Oh Dickon! Is it me thee loves?" She asked, her eyes shining.

"Ay'i'tis," I said looking across the moor. My face had turned very red, but in my mind I was soaring above the clouds, with Mary.

I turned back to her eyes and suddenly laughed. "Ay'i'tis thee I love and want," I repeated staring at her. She turned her face toward the moor and I placed my hand on her shoulder. Upon this touch she threw herself at me, and I willingly caught her, though she almost knocked me to the ground. I enveloped her with my arms and held her tightly.

"Mary!" We heard Collin shout and she jumped from my embrace. "Mary!" Collin stopped by the archway and pointed to her. I saw Lord Craven walk up to he, but then I rode away, wishing I could feel her gaze lingering on me, but I couldn't.

I rode up to a window and called for Martha.

"Dickon," said she, "Did you see them?" I was about to reply, but it was too late, for there they were: Mary smiling, Lord Craven laughing, and Collin walking. An amazing amount of things had happened in each of those persons.

Mary had cried and smiled. She had never done any of those things before, and she found that they were not so hard to do.

Lord Craven had learned to love and laugh after death. Granted, it had taken awhile, but it happened at last, and he realized he loved to love and laugh.

Collin, he could walk! He learned to trust in himself and other people. From not 'til death Collin would be running, and jumping and exploring. He would spread his joy to everyone who encountered him, and, in time, they would spread their joy to him.

As each of them walked to the house they realized what they had learned and accomplished, and they were proud.

I rode up to join them and grinned down into Mary's shining face. I could feel the love radiating from her and that was all I needed to know.

***** Several Years Later *****

He couldn't help but remember that day as he looked down into the small face of Lilian.

She was slumbering contentedly as he rocked her back and forth. Mary walked into the nursery and smiled at us.

"Shall I put her to sleep?" She asked him, but he didn't respond to her. "Dickon?"

"Does she have to go? Does tha not want to just set and watch her awhile?" Now Mary didn't answer, instead she lent down and kissed their child's forehead.

"She needs to sleep you know and so do you. Collin and Julia are arriving tomorrow, and we need to be ready to receive them." Dickon sighed, but put Lilian to bed anyway.

Mary and Dickon walked hand-in-hand to our bedchamber. He helped her undo the buttons on the back of her dress and then they both changed and climbed into bed.

"It's hard to imagine that Lilian is one already," Dickon said, he felt Mary nod into his chest obviously she was tired.

When Collin married Julia Reeves he left Misslethwaite Manor to Mary and Dickon. Collin preferred to be in town mostly, and bought his own estate in the south of England.

Collin and Julia were only visiting to say hello, a small get together of family. Mary was very excited for them to arrive, but she was exhausted from all the planning she had to do, and taking care of Lilian as well.

The next evening Mary and Dickon stood in the entry hall awaiting the arrival of Collin and Julia. Eventually Mary heard wheels and ran to the front door, no longer able to restrain herself to the proprieties mandated by society. Mary threw open the doors and ran out with Dickon hot on her heels.

"Collin!" Mary shouted and barreled at him the second he stepped down from the carriage. Collin greeted her, with equal exuberance.

"Cousin!" He said and kissed her. Dickon walked forward and shook Collin's hand, both of them laughing. Mary realized shortly that Julia was standing off to the side by herself.

"Julia! How was your journey?" Mary asked and Julia smiled at her.

"It was fine, how's Lilian?" At those words Mary remembered that the baby was still asleep, Mary turned and left a laughing Julia to collect her child. The nurse was just bringing her down when Mary found them.

"Thank you Aggie, I'll take it from here," Mary said and the nurse left smiling. Mary walked over to Julia with Lilian in her arms. "Why don't you see for yourself," Mary said and handed the baby to Julia.

Julia cooed at the baby and began to walk inside. Mary, Dickon, and Collin followed. They ate dinner and then retired to the parlor for a short evening of talk.

"So, how's the garden?" Collin asked quietly. Mary and Dickon looked up.

"You haven't been here for so long," Mary said quietly. Collin was suddenly alert, something had happened to the garden, to his garden.

"What's happened to it?" He exclaimed.

"I planted some more roses next to the big tree," Mary said looking down, when she met Collin's eyes she began to laugh. On his face was a mixture of anger, apprehensiveness, and relief, these turned his face a most unsightly purple color. "Well," Mary stood up, "I think it's time to for me to go to bed, and you both must be tired from your travel." Everyone nodded in agreement and it was decided that it was time for sleep.

When Mary and Dickon were alone in their room Mary turned to Dickon and kissed him. Then she rested her head on his chest.

"I love you Dickon," She said to him and realized that she was perfectly happy, and Dickon found that he also was content.

"I'm glad tha feels so," Dickon wrapped his arms around her. He glanced down at her and saw that she was staring at him, a silent thought passed between the two. Dickon picked Mary up carefully and carried her outside.

Mary enjoyed being carried by Dickon, she felt safe and sure. Dickon set Mary down and she unlocked the door. Slowly, they made their way into the garden. They sat down on the swing and just stared at each other.

"When did you fall in love with me?" Mary asked him and tucked her hand in his. Dickon smiled at her. "I know you don't talk about it much, but when?"

"I guess when first I saw tha throwing the seeds, and asking if everything was wick," he said his face had turned his normal bright red; Mary could just make it out in the moonlight. She blushed in turn. "What of tha?" Mary glanced at him.

"I don't really know, when Martha started talking about you, I began to fall in love with you then."

"Why did tha want to know?"

"I was simply curious. What about you? Why did you want to know?" Mary waited for a reply, but Dickon didn't speak. "I'm sorry, I know you're not big into this kind of speech."

"No, Mary, it's fine." But Dickon didn't say anything else. It wasn't often that Dickon called Mary simply Mary, normally he called her Miss Mary, almost exclusively Miss Mary. Mary loved it when he just said her name.

"Dickon?"

"I'm not afraid to say I love you." Mary touched his arm.

"I know you're not, I don't mind."

Dickon stared off into the night, and Mary's gaze was averted to the stars. She loved seeing the moonlight dance off of the rose petals after a rain, but there had been no rain and the moonlight didn't dance.

"Are you happy to have Collin and Julia here?" She asked him, again starting the conversation.

"Of course."

"I wonder if they enjoy being here, sometimes I feel as though we leave Julia out too much."

Dickon turned to face her then. "Why?"

"Because she didn't grow up with us, she doesn't understand half of the things we talk about because she wasn't there."

"Does tha not think maybe Collin told her of it?"

"I'm sure he did, but being told is not the same as actually being there." Dickon didn't respond again, instead he looked away. Mary wasn't sure what was growing through his mind; he was always so complacent, even stoic, at this time. It was such a contrast to her Dickon in the daytime.

Mary studied his face. His dark eyes looked black in the night, and his pale face seemed to reflect the moonlight.

"Mary," Dickon said, Mary hadn't noticed him turn to face her. "Mary."

"Yes, Dickon?"

"I'm glad you chose me."

"What do you mean?"

"There was a time when I thought you would have chosen Collin."

"No, Collin and I declared to always be cousins, but you fascinated me."

"Why?"

"Because, you were the boy that could talk to animals, and could tell if something was alive. You always smelled like the moor after it rained. You were full of life, and Collin was confined to his fears."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." Dickon kissed her on the swing, under the moonlight, surrounded by roses, in the garden, that would always be their garden…their secret garden.