Once Pinocchio and I have reached the seashore again, almost all the people have gathered near the musicians. Several are tapping their feet with the music, humming, or even singing some foreign tune that I can't recognize. Still, it's rather good. It's very good—almost impossible to listen to, and not feel the music inside.
I observe everyone around me, and decide to mimic them as best I can. I have never danced before, reminding me of the night that Pinocchio helped me cut the bread. I'm struck somewhere in my mind, or is it my heart? I'm not sure which, but I'm unsure nevertheless what I should do. Whether I should question Pinocchio about what caused him to become so timid out in the water, or forget that it happened and live for this new moment.
I'm lucky I'm standing there, I suppose, for the music quickly increases speed, practically forcing me into step. It's interesting, because everyone is moving with such unique step, that I can't decide what I should dance like.
Finally, I look to Pinocchio, who is dancing to his own steps. There's a grand smile on his face, as suddenly, he turns to me. The suddenness halts my heart for just a moment, for just moments ago, he seemed so shy of doing anything next to me. Perhaps I am forgiven for whatever caused him to act as he did.
"Serafina!" he crows, stopping in mid-step. "Dance with me!"
"You don't mind?" I ask.
"I can't hear you over this music," he answers, even though we can hear each other perfectly fine.
But somehow, I find it in myself to laugh, joining Pinocchio in his dancing. He doesn't tell me what to do, but since I am so close, I figure I might as well do as he does. It's a jumble of steps, spreading across the sandy ground like no kind of merriment I've seen till now. Of course, I can't do it as well, or easily, as Pinocchio, but it's good to know that I'm back into the rhythm of the celebration.
At one point, Pinocchio takes me by the hand, and twirls me under his arm. I watch my dress swirl out, but I am too dazed by the move to truly care. The motion is so thrilling, that once I recover from it, I want for Pinocchio to do it again. And he does, making me laugh with such joy that even he is guffawing like a little boy. I pull myself into his arms, as he twirls the both of us around, making my head feel like it's full of fairy dust and seawater. It's a wonderful feeling, so I hope that Pinocchio is feeling the same. I want it for him very much—as much as I don't want to return to my star.
I cannot believe that I have come to dislike my existence as a fairy so much. I wonder—is it because it is so humdrum compared to the joys of human life, or…or…
Now, as I look inside Pinocchio's face, I do wish I could stay on Earth forever. Except, fairies cannot grant their own wishes—unless someone made the wish for me to stay for good.
I wonder if I could get Pinocchio to ask me to stay with him and Geppetto. Better yet, dare I reveal to him who I am?
But I can't dwell on those thoughts for long, because Pinocchio is still pulling me across the sand. He's laughing to the beat of the music, bringing me for the ride.
"What do you think, Serafina?" he asks me. "Are you having a good time?"
"Yes. Yes, I am!" I cry from the bottom of my heart. "More than I've had in a long time!"
"Same here!" Pinocchio cries back over the music. "I'm glad you came!"
"So then, I am forgiven?" I blurt out.
Pinocchio slows his dancing, looking me in the eye with bewilderment. "What are you talking about?" he wants to know.
"You were going to say something to me, out on the water," I explain to him. "But then, you looked at me as though you were afraid of me. Is there anything wrong?"
Pinocchio's dancing gradually fades away to nothing, and he holds my hand gently, but I can practically feel the tension coming to life. "I think we should go somewhere away where we can hear each other," he says.
I agree with a nod, and so we push through the dancing crowd, and head back towards the water. The sun has come down some, so the water is glinting with shades of pink and orange. Though I take no notice of that as Pinocchio stands with me by the water's edge; I shiver in the slightest, when the water splashes on my feet.
"I'm sorry, Serafina," Pinocchio finally says. "I was going to tell you before. But…but I guess I got scared."
"Of…me?" I guess, pointing to myself.
Pinocchio looks my way, the blush returning to his cheeks. "Well…I…I…I don't know how to say it."
I take his hand, holding it close to my side, so that he knows for certain I am willing to listen. More so, that I am willing to take whatever this has to do with me.
"Pinocchio, look at me," I whisper. "Don't be afraid. I understand—whatever it is you have to say."
Pinocchio swallows, taking in a long breath. He flicks his eyes to me fast, the corners of his mouth inching up. And then, in a motion that I am simply unprepared for, he reaches one hand to cup the back of my head, tugging me towards him. Our faces are just a breath away.
"You're a strange kind of person, Serafina," he says gently. "But I really like you."
Pinocchio looks at me, with a strong magnetic pull that makes me afraid to look away. The more I look, the more beautiful his eyes appear to me. This feeling is entirely new to me, so I do not know if I should smile, or stay perfectly still until one of us decides to do something.
Indeed it is a long time before something happens. And it causes my heart to arrest itself, stopping, as a wave of feeling overtakes me quickly.
Pinocchio kisses me.
It's very brief, but it's as though I've been struck by lightning. The magic I've held dormant for so long is churning inside, like a wild animal trapped in a cage. My hands grow warm, but it's not from Pinocchio holding them. And when he lets go, to tug on my waist to bring me closer, I notice what is happening.
My hands are glowing blue—the first step of me returning to my original fairy form.
My mind is working in two places at once—one is trying to willfully force my hands to not glow, and the other is attempting to enjoy this beautiful moment with Pinocchio. It's nearly impossible to keep them balanced, for just as my hands' glow starts to dwindle, Pinocchio rubs his fingers on my waist, forcing a light-headed feeling into me.
There's only one thing to do. If I can get away from these miraculous feelings that Pinocchio is inducing in me, then I'll be safe. Except the way that he has me snuggled into his arms, it will be hard to escape—even more, to have the wanting to get away.
"Serafina?" Pinocchio asks gently.
"Hmm?" I answer.
"How are you feeling?" he says. "I mean…are you scared? Is it okay that I kissed you?"
"There's nothing I've ever liked more," I reply, realizing how quickly that phrase is becoming truth.
"I'm glad," he adds. "I'm very glad we met."
"I am too." For the moment, it doesn't matter to me that my magic is boiling to be released. Nor do I care that I am both frightened and excited at the same time to be feeling what I am for Pinocchio. There's simply something pleasurable about being told that someone really likes you—perhaps even loves you. But I'm afraid to think that far ahead.
So I close my eyes to the sounds of the music that has begun the rhythm of the sunset—quiet, and serene. And Pinocchio rubs his hands along my arms, settling after a moment or two for just holding me at my back. It feels too good to be where I am, so that when the magic in me starts to come alive, it's not as potent as usual. The warmth only comes from Pinocchio, and that's the way I wish for it to be.
Awakening from my dreamy state is quick, but it happens against my will. And when I do, the world is dark, the only light being the glow of lanterns on the seashore.
But then, why is there a hint of silvery-blue in it all?
I glance up to Pinocchio, expecting to once more see the pure love that made it sparkle before I fell asleep in his arms. Except now, it's marked by surprise—shock, even.
The silvery-blue glow is intensifying, but it doesn't look as though it is coming from the party scene nearby. Rather, it's right in front of me. On me.
I lift up my hands. Against the dark of the sea, they are a bright blue, lighting up the space like starlight. It feels like it's coming off every inch of my body. Even when I flex my long-stagnant back muscles, they seem to flap, spreading fairy dust.
"Serafina?" Pinocchio backs up a step, his face aghast with amazement and surprise. "What happened to you?"
I look at myself, turning my head every which way to observe my apparent transformation. My entire body is glowing blue, making my new bright blue dress shine like a star. I play with my hair, gasping when I see it has faded from caramel to sky blue.
I cannot believe it. How did I lose control over my guise so much?
For a time, the two of us are speechless.
"I should've told you," I finally say, my voice too low to be heard.
"That you are the Blue Fairy?" Pinocchio mutters, pointing behind me to my wings. "The Blue Fairy?"
I shake my head, closing the distance between me and Pinocchio. He has to understand now. "I apologize for not saying anything before, Pinocchio. But I don't think I could have walked around the village with my wings on my back."
Pinocchio shakes his head back and forth, but he never blinks.
"Why…why did you come down here?" he asks.
"I couldn't avoid staying away from you and Geppetto forever," I try to explain. "I suppose I had so much pride in what I helped you do, that I had to visit—see you both face-to-face sometime."
Pinocchio's eyes widen, pulling in a breath at the same time. "Then that explains why you didn't know how to cut the bread," he remarks. "Or what Ferragosto was all about."
"Yes," I sigh in remorse. "I truly am sorry, Pinocchio."
Pinocchio shrugs one shoulder, and then places his hand on my arm. "You're still Serafina, though, aren't you?"
"I can be, if you want me to," I say. "Fairies don't have birth-given names."
"Well, then, you're most definitely Serafina to me," says Pinocchio.
"Thank you," I whisper, the gratefulness increasing tenfold the more I look at him. Well, until I realize how late it has gotten.
"Pinocchio, I'm sorry," I say, "but I have to go back to the star. It's high-time I return to where I must stay."
"Oh, but you'll come back sometime, won't you?" Pinocchio wants to know, gripping my arms tighter.
"Every day from here to forever," I say. "You can be certain of that."
Pinocchio grins widely, before he takes me by the waist and pecks me on the lips again. I glow all over, fighting the urge to step away from him too soon.
"Farewell," I whisper, as I move slowly from his grip. "And, don't forget, always let your conscience be your guide."
"I won't," Pinocchio assures me.
At last, I spread my arms, causing a cloud of fairy dust to take me away from my fairy form. I shrink to the size of a fairy dust particle, and fly away, trailing sparkles behind me like a comet. I am warmer than ever, feeling with every part of me, the care that Pinocchio gave me when I was a human. I've never known love before, but it is even more beautiful than the night sky. I look back, sending a smile to all on the seashore. My eyes close, enjoying the flight—the freedom. Because I know there will never be anything like it again.