With the flower, she stood,
waiting for her lover.
A gift he usually gave,
a symbol of forever.
I stood by the docks, overseeing the dark sea. Organs played in the background, breaking through the peaceful sounds of nature with their bleak and sorrowful tone.
A single tulip twirled in my hand; a purple one to be exact. A signature of our relationship, of our friendship, of our... our love.
A momentum of forever; a love for eternity.
But I guess I have to spend that eternity without you...
We had met by mistake, really. The first time had been when we had come overseas for a short period. Father had been looking to expand his workforce and, like every one of his business trips, Mother insisted on joining along.
Unfortunately, at the time, I too had been pulled with, after my dear Great Aunt had fallen sick, no longer able to care for me alone. She had fallen way past her ripe age, simply rocking away most of her days upon her late husband's rocking chair, never coming out of her trance as she looked upon his picture dreamily. Unless, of course, if you happen to have bought her one of her favorite honeysuckle sweets she loved ever so dearly.
It was usually in those few moments of distraction, as she savored the little 'gems', as she called them, did I have a chance to draw out the tales of her mystical life with Great Uncle. She had often spoken so fondly of him, the look of love never leaving her eyes, even with him gone. A look that often gave me hope, even when depleted with the harsh words of loved ones; a hope and wish for a love of my own like that.
I just hadn't thought that hopeful wish would have been answered so soon.
Not wishing for me to be left alone with such a sickly lady, Father had insisted on taking me along, He had not listened to any words of argument, much to the displeasure of Mother, who looked immaculately furious upon the suggestions. But she had nothing more once dismissed, being the good wife she is, or so she had spit after grabbing my arm once Father disappeared out the room.
Then we had set out immediately, much to the pleasure and sadness of my dear Great Aunt. She had let me go with a tight hug of love and tearful eyes, smiling as she wished me goodbye and good luck to my new life as if she had known I would meet him; as if she has known that as soon as we had landed she would fly off this world...
I remember it just like yesterday, passing him by in that field. It had been one evening on the last night of our first week there, that news had arrived.
The royal family had sent notice ahead for their oncoming arrival for dinner that very night.
In response, the household we had remained at, was sent into an uproar as the floors were polished and the silver china was removed from its decorative casing.
However, problems soon arose as it came to sight that it had also been the night there had been a shortage of flour in the kitchen. Mother had been outraged as the kitchen maid had arrived in the family room to nervously inform her that her wish for a ten tiered cake could not be accomplished.
I had sat still, only wincing as the poor soul rushed out of the room, barely missing becoming the successful target of the vase Mother had thrown, in a breakthrough of her perfection streak. The stress had gotten to her all too quickly for her to control herself.
Not finding anyone else in sight, Mother had immediately sent me out, refusing to attend to such high honored guests without having something extravagant to greet them.
It had been to the horror of the lead housemaid, to send me out like such on a night she had declared important for me to be ready and presentable, being of an old mind, but kind nonetheless. This had been the result of a revolving rumor that the king's son would be accompanying him and, it seems in the short time of our arrival, the staff had taken a liking to me, wishing me the best in terms of possible marriage proposals. They had formed this fairy tale idea in their mind, that the princes would come and, entranced by my looks, whisk me away.
And, like always, the comments on my looks had also come with their own share of questions as to why I am so different than Mother, with our skin tones being too far in similarity.
Unfortunately, at the time, Mother dearest happened to be around when such a question was spoken, leading to more piercing glares sent in my direction as she forced me out without another word.
I had been passing his fields on the way back, in an attempt to take a shortcut back to the household when I had come across him. He had been inspecting a group of plants with a deep interest I had not seen of others. As I had walked past his fields slowly, I had watched, intrigued as he often felt a petal upon a flower before jotting something down in his notebook.
I hadn't thought to intervene until he had gone to pluck the flower; a growing tulip.
“Don't!” I had called in horror, stepping forward with haste. He stopped in his half bent form. Ever so slowly, he had turned to me as I came closer, looking upon me with confusion as he straightened up.
“Sorry?” he had asked, his eyebrow arching higher ever so slight as he looked upon me confused.
I had bit my lip slightly, nervously; the outpour of adrenaline upon seeing his acts slightly fading.
“I- um- sorry” I had said, stepping forward hesitantly “But please don't pluck it.”
He had looked at me in simple surprise, no anger. A strange look to me back then really.
“And why ever not?” He had asked, folding his hands over each other.
“You will hurt it” I had said softly, coming close enough to bend down and crease the petals. The flower had fluttered with my touch, sending a shock through the patch.
Oh dear... I had thought as I had tense, maybe he had not noticed?
Glancing through the slits of my hair I looked upon him hesitantly, only to notice his expression... hasn't changed?
That had been strange. Usually, at the time, when I accidentally let loose a stray strand of magic, people got angry.
Well, that was with the exception of Great Aunt. She had absolutely adored it. If it were not for her enthusiasm and excitement upon it, I am sure I would have come to hate it with the disgust it brought in others' expressions. But now... now it is the biggest part of me I had come to love after so long of being shamed and feeling ashamed of it.
I had stood up hesitantly as he remained quiet. Each second that passed made me more nervous as he focused upon me with a calculating expression.
“I should, um...” I had said, unlocking my twiddling figures to point to the road “Go...”
I took my first few steps without him responding. Only when I stepped out onto the pathway again, did he act.
“Wait!” He had abruptly called, pausing me in my steps.
His rushed footsteps had come towards me.
Looking over my shoulder I had stuttered out “y-ye-yes?”
“I- umm...” He had hummed while coming to a rest in front of me. It had seemed he hadn't thought what to say after stopping me, just as I hadn't.
“Why don't you come in?” He had said, abruptly, smiling brightly over his great idea as he pointed to a tower in the distance “I would love to talk with you.”
“You don't even know me” I had replied slightly nervous yet slightly amused at his animatic motions.
“Ah, well, yes” He had replied, rubbing the back of his earlobe length black hair nervously “But that is the point of you coming in! I can get to know you better!”
“I – sorry I cannot,” I had said, drawing my fist to my mouth as I turned slightly “I have to go.”
“Oh! Um... if that is the case, I understand” He had said, downheartedly.
I had felt slightly guilty seeing his expression. Biting my lip, I had looked between the household in the distance and his dropped form contemplatively.
“I am sorry, the king is visiting and I need to get back...” I had informed him while wishing I could do more.
“The king you say?” He had asked perking up slightly, as his warm brown eyes had held a calculating expression once again.
“Yes,” I had replied, suspiciously “they are coming to visit over for dinner...”
“Excellent!” he had exclaimed abruptly before turning and walking off, his green cloak dragging along the floor behind him as he walked swiftly, muttering “This is good, oh so very good.”
Blinking, I watched his retreating form with surprise.
What a peculiar man... I had thought at the time as I had stepped back onto the road, and it was that evening that I had truly found out just how peculiar he could be.
Arriving at the dining hall in a simple white gown, I had held my head high, trying to ignore the spiking glares Mother had shot me in displeasure for my taste. I had managed to keep that stance first for only a matter of minutes before it faltered upon the arrival of the royal family, with whom tagged along a familiar looking friend.
He had seemed to bounce in excitement as he scanned the room. He had walked beside the prince but paid him little attention as he folded back his neatly combed hair. He had bore a black robe this time, decorated with splashes of blue and dotes of white; a mimic of the starry skies it seemed. Underneath he had worn clothing of similar richness to the princes, but of a simpler design.
His eye had twinkled as they finally landed upon his target.
Ignoring the calls of introduction, he had walked down the side of the staircase, seeming to go undetected by others, but me, as he headed over.
A bright smile painted across his tanned skin as he had spoken.
“Sorry?” I had responded, in surprise and confusion, as he came to a stand in front of me.
“Ah- well,” he had said, seeming to realize what he had just spoken, turning from brightly excited to slightly sheepish, in a matter of seconds, as he started to ramble “Well, you never said what your name is, and I thought tulip would be fitting as we had started talking over it.”
I had giggled slightly.
This had seemed to release some tension from his form.
“Shawnette,” I had said with a small curtsy.
“Sorry?” He had said as he returned the greeting with a bow of his own, his nose crinkling slight as it did when he is confused.
“My name, it is Shawnette. And your is?”
A bright small took its place upon his expression again.
“John, my lady. John of the family of magic.”
I gasped slightly.
“You are a wizard?” I asked with excitement. Though Great Aunt had said of others of my kind, not many were found back home.
“Yes, as are you,” he had said standing tall, his frame almost at six foot tall.
“Ah- um... yes,” I had answered, looking down as I twiddled my thumbs before adding with a whisper “though I ask you don't say it so loud. It is not something of liking to my family.”
He had looked to me confused, but before he could say more, he was interrupted, by the king and prince themselves. They had walked towards us with authority, smiling carefree with their heads held high as they looked between us with interest.
“I see this is where you disappeared to,” the prince had said, placing a hand upon Johns' shoulder.
“Your highness,” I had said, with a slight curtsy.
He had nodded his greeting.
“And this is?” the king said, looking upon me with similar interest as his son before looking back to Mother and Father.
“This is my daughter,” Father had said, coming to my side “Shawnette.”
“Daughter?” the king questioned in surprise as I tensed knowing what to come. He looked between my Mother and I with confusion “But they do not look alike...”
“Yes,” Mother, had replied quickly, with an underlining tone of bitterness as she lied fluently “she gets her looks from her Father's side, nothing of my own it seems.”
“Ah...” the king had said but had not seemed completely satisfied with the answer.
But before he could have said more, Father had intervened.
“And who is this?” he had asked, turning to John.
“This is my dear friend, John,” the prince said with pride as he introduced him. John had seemed slightly squeamish, which I had later learned was due to his dislike of being the center of attention.
“John here works with the kingdom in all sections,” the king had said boastfully, with similar pride “He has a very useful skill set.”
“Oh, and that is?” Mother had asked innocently and I had tensed.
“John is a wizard,” The king had replied and in return the air had turned cold.
“Wizard...” Mother had said, toneless as her eye twitched.
It seemed to have gone undetected by the king, by not John, who looked to me in confusion.
I had said nothing as I looked down, simply shaking my head, tensed.
He had picked this up.
Clearing his throat he had said, abruptly “Well, it seems I must go.”
“What?” the prince had said, turning his blue eyes upon him “Why must you? You had been pretty insistent on coming, at least stay then.”
“Yes, but it seems I am not welcomed,” he had said, throwing a glance towards Mother before taking a step back.
“But before I go...” he had added turning to me as he pulled out a potted plant.
“A present,” he had said, holding out the fully grown, blooming purple tulip, adding “An everlasting flower for an everlasting beauty.”
From that day on I had been smitten and intrigued by him. I had often found myself sneaking out to see him, to hear his voice, to be around him as I simply watched him with his research. He was one who had valued knowledge, always seeking for something new to learn and correct himself. It is a quality of his that made me fall deeper in love with him over time as he took me along on a journey, realizing my education in the art of my being is almost none existent. Wanting to not lose this chance to finally learn about a part of me I had never been allowed to discover, completely, I took the plunge, meeting him whenever I could and learning more about him and the world I had been sheltered from. Soon my powers were working to their fullest and I had the utmost control over them... while I lost my heart to him.
And now that heart is lost at sea with his body... I thought bitterly.
The soldiers are giving their far wells now, I can hear it. The king is calling out their names one by one, sorrowfully, as if he is actually effected.
Which he should be, after all this is his fault.
If he had not insisted on sending him off on this mission, even after I insisted it would do no good, maybe John would still be here... but even then it would only have been long enough to say hello before he was sent off on another execution by his dear beloved friend's Father.
And he always went, even when he wished to stay back, knowing his friend needed the support. The same friend who also tried to stop him, knowing that even though his friend is strong, it may not be enough to let him go alone against a group of wizards with unknown numbers.
But his Father had turned a blind eye to the complaints, taking it as his son's care for the welfare of his friend, rather than an actual threat.
And it is his fault that now I stand alone on my wedding day, mourning.
I can hear the other's mournful cries of those who shared this land with John. They paid their condolences to the king for such a loss. To them, the king is just a man who had lost his lost a trusted advisor lost in sorrow, but to me, he is merely an arrogant tyrant acting his way to receive sympathy.
We give titles like king and queen to people we hope will guide us to a better future. And instead, they use their power to fulfill the greed of their selfish need to be better then man can be.
The simple tulip ring John had forged rested upon my hand heavily.
Thinking back, he had tried so hard to hide it.
He had used to excuse of assessing my training to draw me out that day. I had followed along, not seeing any problem with the request, but more with his constant fidgeting as he seemed to float with an unexplainable excitement.
He had lead me to the back garden, to a small patch upon which rested a rectangular flower pot, one I had often seen him tending to. I had not spoken my question of it, excusing it as another experiment he, like many of his other, would tell me of excitedly in his own time. Either that or he would come, frowning as he took a seat to explaining something going wrong. He came seeking conversation, seeming to always assume, something of our contemplation would give him the answer he required. It seemed there was something in my words which sparked a new view of things for him and left me feeling important. His value of my opinion was not one I had the experience of enjoying before.
Leading me out, he had made me stand in front of the pot and asked me to make the flowers grow, as I had done when we had first met, accidentally.
Confused, I had nodded slowly and did as told, watching him with suspicion as he seemed to grow both excited and nervous at the same occurrence, nothing unusual for him but still interesting.
Once done the flowers bloomed, taking shape outlined by their mix of colors. I had looked over the pot with interest. To what formed.
The array of tulips seemed to form something; a set of words
'I love you, Tulip. Will you marry me?'
I had heard rustling from behind me as I gasped in surprise. Spinning around, I had looked upon a fidgeting John as he held out the ring, a nervous twitch in his smile as he had waited eagerly for my reply.
With a small cry of joy, and a nod of yes, he had slipped on the ring and we were officially engaged.
Quickly, the marriage date had been set, right before he had been given the instructions to leave and fight for the war; right before he signed his own death contract...
Twirling the purple tulip, I let it fall into the waters below; his grave.
They never did find his body. They tried hard, that I know. The king refused to let his best asset slip away from him. But the only thing that could be found was his golden watch, something he carried around everywhere; a gift from his Father when he was just a boy.
It held the family symbol which, ironically, happened to be a tulip.
If Great Aunt was alive, I am sure she would have called its fate's game.
We were just meant to be.
But I guess that's not longer true... I thought as I turned away from the water, eyes watering.
I made a move to go, only to stop, as a purple petal fell from the air. I caught it with confusion.
What is going on?
Another fell and a group followed.
Where are they coming from... I thought as the sound of water moving erupted from behind me before the heavy thud of someone stepping onto the wooden platform.
“You know, you always did look good in white”
What...? I thought, gasping.
Turning I met with a sight I never thought I would ever see again.
“Surprise?” He said softly holding his arms out.
“What?” I questioned out loud.
Am I dreaming again? But why would I dream him up like this... I thought as I drew closer to his figure.
He stood tall in tattered clothing, a slight beard growing, with an ever boastful smile upon his face... alive.
“How?” I asked as I put my arms around him.
He has a heart beat! His skin is heated! He's not deathly white!
“You... you are alive” I whispered, the tears falling.
He chuckled, his chest vibrating to my joy.
“So I am,” he said with amusement.
“But... how?” I asked as I held him tighter.
He returned the action while resting his check upon my head.
“You were right,” He said heavily, not exactly answering the question, as I drew away from him, but only enough to look into his eyes clearly.
“Right? About what?” I asked confused as I ran a hand down his face with awe.
He really is alive...
“The king would not stop until I am on my death bed,” he said sorrowfully “I had overheard his plans. This battle... it was just a test for him. If I passed this and won the war, he planned on using me to take over neighboring lands without mercy. Instead of ending wars for the safety of our people, he wanted me to start them.”
I stopped exploring his features, which he didn't seem to mind as he peppered my hands with small kisses.
“So... you faked your own death, so he couldn't use you,” I thought with realization.
He nodded softly as a look of shame and sadness entered his eye.
“I am so sorry, my Tulip,” He said, grasping my hands tightly before placing a kiss on my right palm “I am so sorry for worrying you.”
“Why didn't you tell me?” I said as I felt a sob rise.
“I wanted to but... Harry didn't want to risk it”
“Harry?” I asked with surprise.
What does the prince have to do with this?
“Yes,” a voice said from behind us.
Turning slightly, I met the blue eyes of the person in question.
“Why? And what risk?” I asked brows creased “what are you two talking of? And how had you known?”
“Harry had been with me when I had overheard his Father,” John said, sorrowful.
The prince nodded heavily as he came closer, before taking a tall stance, almost bracing himself.
“It was I who told him to do this. I could not see my closet friend used to feed my Father's greed. Nor do I wish to see any more war” he said, looking upon me with shielded eyes.
“Oh Harry,” I said, tears falling “thank you” I added softly.
This caused him to relaxed slightly.
“You're not... angry?” he asked hesitantly.
I shook my head “No, you had to do it. Though, I am slightly annoyed I was kept out of knowing” I said, whipping my tears as I tried to muster a playful glare.
“Sorry Tulip,” John said, meaningfully, before adding with a lighter, humorous tone “but you're not known for your ability to act.”
I pinned my glare upon him. But I could not keep it up. I smiled before clasping him into a hug again.
He let out a sigh of relief.
“So... what now?” I asked, not moving, quite content to stay in his arms forever.
“Well, the plan was to leave?” John said, looking up at his friend questioningly.
“Yes, I have packed your things Netty, along with anything else you need,” Harry said, placing a hand on my shoulder.
Loosening my embrace, I moved back and asked “But, leave where?”
“My old family home,” John said softly.
“The one you didn't want to...” I said, trailing off, not needing to finish the sentence as he nodded.
“Yes,” he said with a small smile “Though I would love to avoid the place where they had passed, it is still my home, more than here. It just needs a little love and attention to stop it feeling so... cold”
He grasped my hand before he continued “so will you help me do that?”
I smiled softly.
“Do you really need to ask?”