Chapter 1 : Roses and Moonbeams
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She flickers through the moonlight like a black and white movie, moving in and out of focus. Alabaster skin and golden curls catch the stars and sway them down to earth, grasping for a touch of her laughter. The laughter that floats across the water that stands between her and another. He chases her with the stars, wanting the same thing that they do, but he has a better chance of catching her. Then she darts out of sight and he is left gasping for a breath, peering through the shadows to find her. Hands on lean hips, he leans down to look into the roses.
“What are you doing?” She asks him a question that he cannot answer. He says something anyway.
“Smelling the roses.”
She knows he’s lying but it makes her smile. Until she asked her question he didn’t see the flowers there, only something between them. She sees them, though. With delicate hands she picks the roses, white and soft pink, and crowns herself. He thinks it’s fitting, a princess in her crown.
“Don’t hurt yourself.”
“How could I hurt myself?”
He rolls his eyes and is exasperated. Though she sits upon the ground in the garden, her head is lost among the clouds that dot the night sky above them.
“There are thorns on the roses; you might prick your finger.”
“Then I will sleep, and it won’t matter anyway.”
He doesn’t know what she means, but he smiles anyway. When she holds out her hand he smiles a little more for at last, he thinks, he’s caught her. She pulls him through the bushes and he winces as the thorns catch on his trousers, but she doesn’t notice them, though they leave scratches upon her soft skin. She pulls him down beside her and he doesn’t resist, too caught up in the spell of her eyes to care what is happening. Only that it happens with her.
She cradles her head upon his shoulder and curls into his warmth. Alone and in silence they lie on the ground in the garden, seen only by the stars and the moonlight. His hand splays wide and possessively upon her hip and he gazes down into her face. Her eyes are not looking at him though; they are fixed upon the moon above them, full and bright in the heat of July.
“Do you think anyone lives up there?” She asks him, waiting for an answer.
“On the moon? Of course not. There is no atmosphere for it. People have visited there though, muggles have.”
“Not on the moon, silly. Among the stars. I’d like to live there.”
“In the stars? It’s empty space and burning gas.”
“You’d never have to light a lamp and it wouldn’t be crowded. Not even on Saturdays.” He laughs, but she smiles serenely and pats his chest, as if she knows best and he is confused. He doesn’t understand her, but he stays with her anyway, as she talks to the stars and sings with the roses.
Then she stands and walks away, leaving him in the grass behind her. For a minute he watches her, lithe limbs in diaphanous linen, white as the moonlight she wades through. She disappears from view, behind a hedge, walking toward the sea. He stands to walk after her, calling after her.
“What are you doing?”
“Swimming with the moon!” He shakes his head but follows. The sand filters between her toes, running like time as she dances. Her hands writhe above her head, waving to her friends up in the sky. Shadows and moonlight dance upon the waves and across her skin, outlining her beauty, ethereal and innocent. He stands on the edge of the garden, where the sand meets the grass, watching her below him. Her laughter carries on the breeze and brushes past him, brining another smile to his face.
Slowly, he makes his way down the beach toward her, as if she is a skittish filly and he means to catch her unaware, so that she cannot escape. She sees him coming and giggles, darting away, bare feet thrumming upon the sand. Her crown slides down her hair and to the ground, lying crushed until he picks it up. The thorns jab him and he swears, jerking one hand away.
“Are you all right?” Now she is concerned, taking his broad hand in hers and softly kissing the tiny injury.
“Yeah, fine. Stupid thorn poked me is all.”
“They’re not stupid.” She tells him, putting the crown back on her head. “They just didn’t know any better.”
He catches one of her wrists and pulls her to him, wrapping his arms around her. “I’m sorry, they didn’t know any better.” She smiles radiantly at him, letting him keep her still for a long minute. Then she twists away, taking her kisses with her, and he gives chase.
Back into the garden they run. Fairies flit among the branches of the apple tree as around its trunk they run. Her laughter lights the night and guides his way, always closer to her. A light comes on the house behind her and it startles her, she stops for a moment and he pulls her close to him again. Shadows move in the house but don’t come out and he ignores them, taking her attention back.
She smiled at him, standing in the circle of his arms, smelling of roses. “Never say you caught me. Just that you caught up to me.”
He gives her a quizzical look. “What’s the difference?”
She just shakes her head and doesn’t answer. Instead she kisses him, while the moon looks on and smiles and the stars ring with laughter. The princess and her prince, bathed in the glow of midnight, dancing with the roses. She takes his hand, pulling him along with her. Toward the roses where earlier they’d lain in a bed of moonbeams. They lay down again, the same position as before. He places a light kiss upon her curls as she wraps herself around him.
Reaching across him with one hand, she plucks a rose from the bush. A thorn catches her delicate skin and tears it, leaving behind a dot of scarlet blood. She jerks in surprise and stares at it for a moment.
“I told you a thorn would get you.”
“Now I’ll sleep for a hundred years.”
“Unless you save me.” With a solemn gaze, she looked up at him, her brown eyes round. “Will you save me Teddy?”
“I’ll always save you sweetheart. But I don’t know what you need saving from.” His lopsided smile tugged at her heartstrings and she smiled.
“Everything.” She whispered. Then she kissed him, saving them both from something, if only she knew what. But she supposed it didn’t really matter, as long as they were safe. Safe among the roses, lying in the moonbeams.
“You saved me.” She told him, and he didn’t know what she meant, but the look in her eyes let him know it didn’t matter. As long as he’d do it again. And again. Until the end of all the ages and their lives together. Her kisses still warm on his lips, her head nestled against his chest as she slept, he gazed up at the stars and the moon.
“Always, Dominique. I promise.” He couldn’t say all the words, but the moon heard him, and that was all that mattered.
Always, Dominique. Until the stars fall from the heavens and the moon sinks into the sea.