A/N: This is my first fanfiction, and I would love it if you would review with your honest opinions. I tried my best to keep both Jena and Gogu as in character as I could. There are spoilers, if you haven't finished the book yet.
Disclaimer: Wildwood Dancing and its characters belong to Juliet Marillier.
"Gogu..Costi? But…how?" Jena was staring at me in shock, unable to comprehend how her amphibian companion had just transformed into a young man who looked suspiciously similar to her cousin.
"Oh Jena, there's so much for me to explain. But first and foremost, I must confess my feelings for you. All those years, the whole time I was with you, they've only grown stronger and now that I'm finally able to voice them I don't think I can hold them in any longer. I love you, Jena."
The smile on her face was so full of delight that I almost started to cry. Surely she wouldn't reject me, not when she looked so joyous at my declaration. Despite this, I could feel my legs quivering and my heart beating rapidly. My voice, my newly regained body, none of it mattered if she rejected me. Without her, my heart would be torn away. I would take being a frog over a life without her. Why wasn't she speaking?
"Please, don't say anything if you don't feel the same way. I understand if you don't, I can't say I blame you. I'd just rather not have to hear you say it. At the very least you have to stay t-t-to hear my explanation-"
"Costi" Jena cut me off with a finger over my mouth, the same smile still on her face. "I'd love to hear it, but right now none of that matters." My eyes widened when she replaced her finger with her mouth. My arms wrapped around her, tugging her closer. Now that I was finally able to hold her I didn't want to ever let go.
He should have known that it was only another dream. They were all he had to keep him going nowadays, to a point where he couldn't stand waking up. The green little frog closed his eyes, wishing he could return. Every day, all he could do was wait for night when he would be able to return to his beloved. He was with her all the time in the waking hours, but in this form he could hardly do much to appeal to her, as he wished. They came so frequently that he sometimes wondered if Draguta sent him the dreams to help ease the burden of his choice. He loved them and loathed them at the same time, for they brought him pleasure but did so at the cost of reminding him what things could be, if only he were human once more.
Turning towards the object of his affection, Gogu saw that Jena had already awoken and was dressed, sitting on the edge of the bed. He could tell instantly that something was wrong, so he hopped over and crawled on her lap.
'Jena, what's going on? You're upset.'
Jena didn't need to whisper, as none of her sisters were in the room. She had tried telling them about how she communicated with him, but none of them had believed her. For young girls whose lives were touched by magic, Gogu thought they were too skeptical for their own good.
"Father saw the physician today. He's not going to make it through the winter if he stays here. He's going to be leaving for Brasov soon. We're to manage his affairs and the estate in his absence."
Gogu blinked up at her worried face in confusion. That couldn't really be what bothered her, surely. Her father had left before on business ventures, and Jena had never been troubled. It must be his illness that was causing her concern. He had been sick for awhile now, but Jena had been maintaining an optimistic outlook on the situation.
'You'll be fine, and your uncle is right next door.'
Gogu wished he could do or say something more to comfort her. He didn't know much about the impending loss of family members; it was his supposed death that the others had to cope with. He hoped the mentioning of his father would help, so she would know she had someone to count on. A human someone, he thought bitterly, though not directed at her. Someone who could hold her and tell her that everything was going to be all right. As a frog, he could only do so much.
"I know, and he'll make sure we're taken care of if anything goes awry. Besides, I know the ledgers back and forth by now. But that doesn't make up for the fact that this might-" She broke off and sighed, looking down at him. When she had begun to speak her finger had absentmindedly been stroking him, and now these actions ceased. Her eyes filled with tears, and Gogu nudged his head against her hand.
'No Jena, don't cry.'
It filled him with anguish to know that she was in distress and he couldn't do anything to help her other than offer words of comfort, which apparently weren't very helpful, judging by the trail of tears that were now making its way down her face.
"What if he doesn't come back, Gogu? If father dies in Brasov then this will be the last time we have to see him. I can't cry in front of the others, I don't think Stella fully understands what's happening. The fact that he might not come back probably hasn't even crossed her mind."
She was trying to be brave for her sisters. His loved one had grown up just as much as he had over the years. Doing his best to aim properly, he made a leap at her shoulder. Fortunately, he made it, and snuggled up to her neck. He wished that he was able to kiss her tears away, but he had to settle for giving her neck a gentle lick. The snowy white expanse of flesh was so tempting to him that he would often find himself drifting off when he was riding on her shoulder, lost in thoughts of what he could manage if he was Costi once again. Long ago, he had made a promise to himself that should he regain his form and earn Jena's love, special consideration would be taken towards the area near where he so often sat. He felt guilty for considering this when she was in turmoil, so provided her with another lick, sending his thoughts out toward her.
'It's okay, Jena. I'm here.'
He always would be, no matter what form he was in.