Bring Me Home

Chapter 12: To the End of the World

The Jolly Roger was sailing at its maximal speed towards the Enchanted Forest. Finally, after days which had seemed only too long to Killian, land was in sight. His brother had convinced him; it was not to the Evil Queen’s castle they were heading, but to the Dark One’s mansion. The only problem Killian had was that he had no clue about how to find it. He knew it was somewhere in the Enchanted Forest, but where exactly, he didn’t know; the first time he had been there with his brother, the crocodile had found them and used magic to make them come and leave. Looking through the books in his quarters, the captain had found the one which had revealed to Emma the existence of the Dark One. According to what was written, summoning him was enough to make him come, but however hard he tried, the crocodile never came. Once on land, in this village where he had met him for the first time, his mission would then be to find him.

“What are you doing?” Killian asked, seeing his brother equipping himself with a sword.

“Gearing up for adventure,” he said on a tone implying it was obvious. “Land is very close.”

“Liam, it’d be better if you stay here, with our men. You haven’t recovered enough for this, yet.”

“I can take this. I am not so tired anymore.”

“I prefer to go alone. This is my fight, there is no need for you to take any more risks.”

“I could help.”

“Liam, please.”

He didn’t insist more and let Killian go alone. The captain had in mind to ask the inhabitants of the village about the Dark One; the first time, he had been there. Some of them might know him. But he didn’t need to ask anyone.

“Looking for me, dearie?”

Killian stood up straight, looking at the man sitting on a wooden cart. They were still on the docks, the captain had barely left his ship; it was as if the crocodile had been waiting for him here.

“How do you know that?”

“How could I not, after all those times when you summoned me?”

“You heard me?” His jaw clenched. “Why didn’t you come, then?”

“I don’t like the ocean, I prefer to be on solid ground.”

Killian glared at the Dark One, trying to tame the hatred he was inspiring him. “I need your help.”

A maniacal laughter escaped the crocodile. “Let’s discuss this in a more private place.”

The next second, they were in the Dark One’s mansion. The captain didn’t wait any longer.

“My love has been taken away from me, I need to find her. Can you help?”

“Maybe I can, maybe not,” the man replied on a singing voice.

“You’re the bloody Dark One, do something.” His jaw clenched, he was glaring at the man.

“Do you have anything from her?”

Killian looked through his pockets. Since she had not wanted to take it back, he had kept it; he brought out of his pocket Emma’s necklace and showed it to the man without letting go of it. “I have this.”

“Then, I know how to find her. A simple locator spell is enough.” Rumplestitskin paused to look sideways. Until then, Killian had not noticed the tall and black-haired woman standing near the window, holding a rag in her hand, and staring at him. “Milah, why are you still here? Dinner needs to be prepared, you know how I dislike it when you’re late.”

“Yes, beloved husband.” She nodded and left the room, her eyes lingering on the pirate. Her words had sounded fake to Killian, who looked curiously at the Dark One.

“She’s my wife,” said Rumplestitskin.

Killian raised an eyebrow, the idea he might be using magic to keep himself in the illusion he was living with a loving wife crossing his mind. But he quickly forgot about it.

“How does this locator spell work?”

“It doesn’t work if you don’t have anything to offer. All magic comes with a price, dearie.”

“The Jolly Roger.”

“The what?”

“My ship, the Jolly Roger. Help me find Emma and when I have her, my ship is yours.”

“You would trade your ship for a lady?”

“She is more than just a lady. She is the one I love. I would trade my life for her.”

Rumplestitskin laughed maniacally. “Love, love, love, what a funny thing. But I have no use of a ship, dearie. What else can you offer?”

“Are you bloody serious? I have nothing else of value to trade.”

“Yes you have, and it is in your pocket.”

Killian raised an eyebrow. The only thing he remembered having in his pocket was what he was now keeping in his hand: Emma’s necklace. “I can’t give you her necklace, I need it to find her.”

“I am not talking about her necklace, her necklace is in your hand. What I want is in your pocket.”

The captain then remembered of something. He patted his pocket; it was indeed there, he could feel it under his fingers. It was very valuable, but he couldn’t give it to him. It was perhaps Emma’s only chance to go back to her realm; even if it was dried and powerless, they had found a way to give it its powers back. They only needed to go to Lake Nostos, and she would be able to go back to her realm like she wanted, with or without him depending on her wish. His fingers closed on the bean. It was perhaps Emma’s only chance to go back, but it also seemed to be his only chance to find her. What was the point of keeping it if he couldn’t find her?

“Now the question is, is this a price you’re willing to pay?”

“Aye. I give you the bean, and you help me find her.”

“We have a deal,” said the Dark One, holding out his hand. Killian gave him the bean, which didn’t seem to be what the crocodile expected. He made a face and looked up at the captain. “It looks a bit dried. And without any magical power. Such a waste, what have you done to it? No one can fool the Dark One, pirate.”

“I’ve done nothing. You’re the one who wanted it. And it can be magical again. There is a lake, Lake Nostos, it can regenerate it.”

“Oh I see, very smart.”

“Emma found out about this lake. Help me with this location spell so I can thank her for this.”

With a maniacal laughter, he went to his cupboard, examined the different vials stored there, and picked one. “This is the potion you need. Pour it on the necklace, and the necklace will go back to its owner. No matter how far they are or what you do, it will never stop until it finds them. Following it is all you need to do. The door is this way.”

The Dark One indicated the way out, obviously dismissing him.

“Before I go, Emma had questions to ask you,” Killian said. She wanted to meet him, but he hated the man so much that he had to ask; perhaps if he came back with the answers she wanted, she would decide she didn’t need to meet him.

“Questions? Ask away, maybe I will answer them, maybe not,” he said with the same singing voice he had used before.

“Just answer them. How can we travel from one realm to another?”

Rumplestitskin let out a creepy laugh. “Without this,” he said, showing him the bean, “I’m afraid it’ll be very complicated.”

“Think of something, there must be a way.”

“Why would you want to go to another realm?”

“This is none of your business.”

“If you don’t answer my questions, why would I answer yours?”

“Emma wants to go back to the realm she’s coming from.”

“And you’re going to help her?”

“Aye, of course I will. If it is what she wants, I won’t hold her back.”

“But you love her. Why don’t you make her stay?”

Killian raised an eyebrow and stared at the man. “Are you daft? This is precisely the reason why. I love her, this is why I will always put her first, even if what she wants is to leave. Loving her means being able to let her go, if leaving is her wish. But what would you know about love? You have a wife who’s staying here only because you bewitched her.”

“My, my. How rude!”

Killian wasn’t sorry about offending him. He kept glaring at the man, wishing he wouldn’t have to see him ever again. But he couldn’t leave now. There was another question he wanted to ask. “You said you had written the prophecy, Emma wants to know why.”

“Just because she wants to know, you’re ready to lose your time talking to me?”

“Answer me!” Killian stopped himself from thumping the table and tried to keep his voice steady. “Why did you write it?”

“Writing frees the mind. I write whatever I see in the visions I have of the future.”

The pirate stared at the Dark One, incredulous. “You saw Emma and I in a vision of the future?”

“Yes, dearie. Not precisely, because visions are as mysterious as the future is uncertain. And I don’t see everything. If I had seen writing this prophecy would have led me to deal with you, for instance, I wouldn’t have written it.”

“At least the feeling is shared,” said Killian through gritted teeth.

“But I remember seeing her name and writing it all over a parchment,” Rumplestitskin went on, ignoring his comment.

“She is not even from this realm, how could you see her?”

“I saw that too. I saw she was coming from another realm.”

Killian thought of something else, of something which remained one of the biggest mysteries of his life. “I’m not supposed to be here either. Something happened years ago. With Liam, we were travelling to a place called Neverland. When we came back, it was like two or three hundred years had passed. How is this possible?”

“You’ve been to Neverland?” The Dark One tried to hide his surprise as soon as he could. “I’m flattered you think I can explain, but I can’t. Some mysteries are supposed to remain mysteries. All I can say is that Neverland is a place where anything can happen and, if the universe has decided you would meet Emma Swan, maybe it was, for the universe, the occasion to make you travel through time. Now, do you have another question?”

“Nope,” Killian replied distractedly, considering his theory.

“Very well. Have a nice day.”

The next second, the captain was back on his ship.

“Killian! It was fast, did you find him?”

“Aye, and I know how to find her.” Killian turned to the crew. “All hands on deck! Let’s set sail, now!”

“Where is she?” asked Liam, while their men went to their stations.

“I don’t know, but with this potion, the necklace will lead us to her. It is a locator spell.” Killian was confident. The crocodile was odious but, until then, his magic had proven to be reliable. “We only need to follow it.”

The captain poured the content of the vial on the necklace. Quickly, it rose into the air and flew towards the ocean.

“Not so fast!” Killian caught the chain. He had expected to face some resistance, but he couldn’t feel anything, even if the necklace was still floating in the air, in the same direction. Slowly, he let go of it, and the necklace floated away; he had been wondering for a second whether holding it had broken the enchantment, but it seemed to be all right. “Liam, I’ll need a hand.”

With only one hand, manipulating the clasp was complicated. They went to the wheel and Liam tied the necklace on the upper part of it. Killian oriented the ship so that the necklace was pointing at the ocean in front of them.

“Do you really trust this necklace will lead us to her?” asked Liam.

“Aye. The necklace will go back to Emma, we just need to follow it.” Killian didn’t want to doubt about this. He wanted to believe it would work. “Liam, you need to get some rest. You have been through enough already because of me, you have to recover.”

Liam patted his brother’s shoulder before going back to the cabin. Hours passed and Killian stayed behind the wheel, checking the orientation of the necklace. It turned out that the wheel only needed to be held in the same position, as the swan pendant kept floating towards the bow of the ship; with this kind of magic, the necklace would surely go straight ahead. Killian looked into the distance: somewhere out there, his Swan was waiting for him. Or at least he hoped she was waiting for him. He hoped she would not lose hope, and keep believing he was coming for her. He glanced at the sails; the Jolly Roger was already at its maximal speed, but it just didn’t seem fast enough. The first time he had visited the Dark One, seeing her rolled into a ball on the floor in this crystal ball had been the worst. The image had been haunting him. This was why, when he had seen the Dark One again, he had not asked to see her, preferring to convince himself she was alright. But now, he had some doubts, and uncertainty was even worse: questions kept streaming through his mind. Where was she now? What was she doing? Was she alright? His jaw clenched at the thought the Evil Queen might have hurt her. He had to find her, as fast as he could.

When the stars appeared in the sky, Killian hailed Smee. “Take the wheel, make sure the necklace keeps floating straight ahead.”

He went to his quarters, and came back with maps and a sextant. Spreading the maps on deck, he then stood up and looked up at the sky. With the sextant, he measured angles between stars and the horizon. These sights allowed him to calculate the position of the ship and visualize it on a map. For Killian, it was child’s play. Standing up, he checked the position of the necklace and went to the bow. Looking at the horizon ahead of them, his eyes then went up to the sky and stopped on the first bright star. The coincidence made him smile; the star above the horizon, the one he was looking at, shining above the point they were heading to, belonged to the swan constellation. The captain went back to his maps: now that he knew the position of the ship, and the direction, it would be easy to guess where Emma was kept. His finger trailed over the map, tracing the route of the Jolly Roger. But his finger didn’t stop; in this direction, the ocean was stretching far, so far that Killian reached the limit of the map before finding any land on their path. Was she on a ship in the middle of the ocean? It made no sense, whatever boat she would be on, it would be moving. Killian stood up again and used different stars to measure angles and calculate their position again. But the result was the same. Rushing to his quarters with maps and sextant under the arm, he rummaged through the chest inside which maps were stored, and found the one he wanted. He rolled it out on the desk. This one was covering a larger area. Localizing his ship, Killian trailed his finger over the map again, following an imaginary line, and finally found some land. The land seemed to be at the end of the realm, or at least was at the end of his map. He glanced at the scale and slumped in his armchair; according to the distance on the map, he now knew how long it would require to reach this land. He had not been prepared to the idea he would need to sail for six weeks before finding her. Staring blankly at the map, his hand reached for the bottle attached to his belt. ‘I thought rum was leading to bad form.’ Killian smiled at the memories of her voice and took a sip. He had not dared telling her how good it was to soothe the pain or how, when they were on their way back to the Enchanted Forest after she had been taken away from him the first time, he had found this bottle he had confiscated one of his men; a bottle which, in a moment of despair, had helped him to think happiness was still possible. During the few days they had spent in the village, elaborating a plan to break into the Evil Queen’s castle, he had stocked up on rum, and there had been evenings when it had happened to be helpful. Six weeks; the simple thought led him to take another sip. Perhaps he should get some rest. Glancing at the bed only reminded him of her absence; he left the quarters and went to the crew’s cabin where he had got used to sleep.

Days passed and routine set in. Killian kept checking on the necklace; it was still floating in the air, willing to go back to its owner, held back only by the wheel. Killian also spent much time with his sextant, measuring angles between celestial bodies and the horizon, calculating the position of the ship and following the path on a map. Every time, his finger was trailing over the map, passing between two islands of an archipelago they would apparently cross, and stopping on this same land. That was until, one night, he got a different result; the path seemed to be slightly deviated, and his finger passed very close to one of the islands of the archipelago, so close that he measured again. With some approximations, there were chances that the island was on their path. Killian had never doubted his method, but he was now ready to admit its accuracy was not good enough: he couldn’t be certain whether the necklace was leading them to the land he had identified at first as their destination, or to the archipelago which was three weeks of sailing away; still far, but it was still two weeks closer than the land at the end of the realm.

Hope Emma might be closer to him than he had expected brightened his mood. But the closer they were to the archipelago, the more obvious it became that the necklace was not leading them to this island. Killian denied the obvious for days, until this night when he realized the island was definitely not on their path. He had always loved sailing, but patience had never been his forte. The more days passed, the deeper was this void he was feeling; a void nothing seemed to be able to fill. It was like he wasn’t himself anymore, because he didn’t have her. On his ship, he had always felt like he belonged there, but it wasn't the same anymore. Sailing was not so fascinating, the stars didn’t seem so bright and beautiful. Life seemed to lose its luster. Liam had now recovered, and Killian was relying on him to lead the crew, himself going on deck only to check on the necklace or calculate the position of the ship, spending the rest of his time in his quarters, or in the crew’s cabin as he kept the bed untouched.

“You shouldn’t withdraw into yourself like this,” said Liam when he went to check on the necklace. They had been sailing for almost four weeks now. The first islands of the archipelago were now visible on the horizon. Killian didn’t reply anything and walked away, going back to his quarters.

But Liam didn’t give up so easily. When he opened the door, Killian quickly put away the bottle of rum he had been staring at, unwilling to let his brother know how he was trying to fill this void left by a broken heart.

“Killian, is there anything I can do for you?”

“Nope,” he said, not even looking up at his brother.

“I can only see your pain and I wish I could help.” Since Killian didn’t reply anything, Liam went on. “I also know isolating yourself is how you deal with it. You are still the same. You’re reminding me of this young child I used to know, the one who shut himself away after losing his mother too soon. You are still my little brother and will always be. I hope you know you can count on me.”

Not in a mood to be reminded of his childhood or hear any of these words, Killian stood up and silently led Liam out of the quarters before closing the door. Sitting back at his desk, he stared at the bottle of rum before trying to drown his sorrows. His mood didn’t get better in the next days. Feeling Liam’s eyes on him whenever he went on deck was annoying him. And one of the sailors didn’t help improve the situation.

“We’re not even sure this necklace will lead us to her. All this time just for a woman, this is foolish. She may not even be alive,” he had told another sailor. He had surely not expected to be grabbed by the collar and find himself face to face with the captain who was looking daggers, his jaw clenched.

“She is alive,” Killian said through gritted teeth. “And I will find her.”

“Killian,” said Liam warningly.

But Killian ignored him. “You can walk the plank if being on this ship is not what you want.”

“Killian, stop!” Liam separated the two men, his eyes locked on his brother. “We will find her, but you need to calm down.”

“Don’t tell me what to do, you’re not the captain anymore, I am.”

Liam wrinkled his nose and took Killian apart, out of the sailors’ earshot. “You smell of alcohol, is this how you’re spending your time in the quarters?”

Killian didn’t say anything and kept staring at his brother, his jaw clenched.

“Rum is not the solution,” said Liam. “What would she think if she saw you like this?”

“I can’t know, because she’s not here! I don’t know where she is or what this monster did to her. I am relying on a necklace to find her, but even if it does lead me to her, how can I know it is not a lifeless body I will find? I need her, she took a part of me with her when she left, I am nothing when she’s not here!” He walked away, his coat flying behind him as he turned back.

Back in his quarters, his own words kept haunting him. Out of anger, he had revealed what his biggest fear was, something he hadn't even admitted to himself until then: he couldn't be sure she was still alive. At this moment, the void inside of him was so large that it seemed to have engulfed his lungs, he could hardly breathe. Automatically, he reached for his rum. After a few sips, he stared at it, Liam's words echoing in his mind. He remembered how ashamed he had felt when revealing her he had tortured a guard into telling him where she was kept; he wouldn't be prouder to tell her that, instead of holding his head high, he had drowned his sorrows into rum. The simple thought disgusted him. The bottle smashed against the wall. Killian took the few bottles he had left and went on deck to throw them over the railing. When heading back to his quarters, he saw Liam was watching him, but he didn't stop or say anything.

The fear he might not find her alive was consuming him. The waiting was unbearable. Despite what his brother had said, he kept shutting himself away. But somehow, hope came back as, day after day, the land they were heading to was drawing closer and closer. According to his map, this land was mainly constituted of forests and mountains. The fear remained, but he kept his mind busy by planning his expedition, thinking of what he might need there.

Forty-one days had passed since she had been taken away from him when land was finally in sight. Killian was ready to leave, he had packed everything he thought he could need. He took back the necklace, which kept pointing the same direction, and put it around his own neck. His emotions were a mix of impatience and fear. In the evening, the ship finally reached land.

"Killian," called his brother, seizing his arm, "I know you want to go and find her, but do you really plan on going now? Consider waiting for the morning, the sun is setting down, it is not careful to venture there in the night, we don't even know this land."

"I don't have time to wait, I am leaving now. Now the question is, will you stand in my way?"

To his surprise, Liam stepped aside. "I won't hold you back. Let me help you carry all of this." Grabbing some of the bags, Liam accompanied his brother on the docks. "I won't offer to come with you because I know you will refuse. What are your plans now? How are you going to find her?"

He was right, Killian wanted to go on his own, and he was glad not to have to fight about this with him. "Quite simple, I'll try to find a horse and follow the necklace."

They had landed in a very small village, and they didn't go unnoticed: most of the inhabitants had gathered there, obviously not used to see such ships. Killian took advantage of the situation. He slowly walked closer to them.

"Can any one of you help me? The woman I love has been taken away from me. I know she is somewhere in this land, but I need a horse to go and find her."

At first, no one moved and the inhabitants glanced at each other. Finally, a woman stepped closer. "I have a horse."

She was followed by two other inhabitants. "I also have a horse."

"I own the stable. I can get a horse ready for you."

"Thank you for your kindness. Your gesture won't be forgotten."

At first planning on stealing a horse, it was finally easier than what he had planned. The two brothers followed the man who owned the stable. A horse was soon equipped. Liam helped Killian to charge the animal with the food, drinks, blankets, ropes, knives and everything he had judged useful to bring with him. He was now ready to leave.

"If I am not back in a week," he told Liam, "consider I have failed. There is no need to hold the crew in this land any longer."

Before his brother had time to say anything, Killian tossed an arm around his shoulders and pulled him to him; something he was doing so rarely that Liam was caught in surprise. "What are you doing?"

"This is long overdue. I’ve never thanked you for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you, brother." He got on the horse, took the lantern Liam was handing him, and left.

The necklace led Killian straight into the forest. The difference with sailing was that he couldn’t just follow the indicated direction through the trees: he was following the paths which seemed the closest to where the necklace seemed to be going. The lantern happened to be essential as, soon, the night had fallen and the canopy was stopping the moonlight. The sky was not even visible because the forest was so thick. Everything was quiet. Only the hooves of the horse hitting the ground were breaking the silence. Holding the lantern with his hook, Killian kept galloping through the forest. Now that he knew the waiting could be over anytime soon, that he could find her any moment, the impatience was more consequent than ever, but so was the fear. Not knowing how she was made the ride unbearable. Killian had lost track of time. He didn’t know whether time was only going by even more slowly than during the past few weeks, or whether he had truly been riding for hours. It seemed like the ride would never end. Only the thought he might see Emma soon encouraged Killian to keep going. As the necklace kept pointing the same direction, a thought crossed his mind: what if he was only supposed to cross the land? What if he reached the sea on the other side and the necklace kept pointing straight ahead? What if she was kept in a land even further? He didn’t want to believe this. Time had gone by so slowly that he felt like they had already sailed to the end of the world. He didn’t want to believe, but this thought still made his fears even worse. Endlessly galloping through the forest, Killian wondered how large this land was, since his map was only showing a part of it.

Daylight only confirmed Killian had not imagined he had been riding for hours. He was only hoping she was somewhere on this land. He thought of the moment when he had found her in this tower, of how, running up the stairs, he had known he was about to see her again. He had also been scared, because she had looked so weak in this crystal ball. But as soon as he had seen her turning to him, all of his fears had been forgotten. If he was asked about the happiest moment of his life, perhaps he would quote this moment when he had been able to hold her in his arms. The relief had been the greatest he had ever experienced. The only reason why he had not kissed her was only that he had been restraining himself; no matter how much he had been missing her, he had not forgotten how she had reacted to their first and until then only kiss. His lips had instead pressed in her neck and happiness had overwhelmed him. Killian only wished he could live this again. He was hoping that, soon, he would be able to drown into her eyes, to taste her lips, to hold her in his arms while savouring her scent. But he still needed to wait: the necklace kept leading him deeper in the forest. That was until, when most of the morning had gone, the direction in which the necklace was floating changed. Killian stopped the horse and retraced his steps. The direction changed again and he felt his heart thumping in his chest; if the necklace was truly heading to Emma, it could mean only one thing: she was close, somewhere on the left of his path. The trees and other plants bordering the path were thick. But further ahead, it was even worse, as it was not vegetation but cliffs which were preventing him from turning left. He came back to the part of the path bordered with trees and plants. There didn’t seem to be any passage so he alighted and cut through vegetation with his sword, pulling the horse behind him. Surrounded by plants higher than him, his only landmark was the necklace.

“Emma! Where are you?” he screamed, hoping she might respond.

But there was no reply. Vegetation was so thick that Killian was considering going back and try to find another path. It was when he was about to turn back that he found himself facing a curtain of vines; a curtain towards which the necklace was floating. There seemed to be something on the other side. Getting back on his horse, Killian crossed the curtain and found himself in some sort of tunnel. It led him to a place surrounded with mountains. In the middle stood a tower.

“Emma!” he tried to call again, going closer to the tower. There was still no answer. Killian removed her necklace and let go of it. He saw it floating to the tower and soaring to disappear through the window at the top. His heart skipped a beat: she was there. He alighted and ran to the foot of the tower.

“Emma! Love, please answer me.”

Killian was trying to do his best not to give in to panic. The fact she was not replying while she was obviously there let him imagine the worst. He ran around the tower a first time. The second time, he went more slowly, looking more carefully for a door through the ivy which was covering the walls, but found none. There was only one solution left. Killian looked up at the tower with more attention. The first half was covered in thick ivy. The second half looked more complicated to climb, but not impossible. He rushed back to the horse, glad he had spotted mountains on the map and planned what was needed for some climbing. With his pockets full of tools which might be useful and ropes around his shoulders, he began his ascension. After a beanstalk, the first part was easy. For the second part, he brought out of his pocket an axe. With hook and axe, he used the grips the stone wall was offering to climb.

“Emma!” he tried again.

The fact she was not replying couldn’t be good. Even if she was sleeping, his yells would have awakened her. Now, he was hoping the necklace had been mistaken. He was hoping he wouldn’t find her here, but somewhere else, where she would answer him.

It was like his body was working on his own; he was not here to control it, fear was paralysing his mind. Dreading what he could see at the top, the ascension took less time than he had expected: he reached the edge of the window and pulled himself up.

“Emma! No!”

Killian got inside and got rid of the rope while running to the altar. He couldn’t think anymore, it was like the world had stopped. The view was reminding him of the worst moment of his childhood. Emma was peacefully lying on the altar, her eyes closed, her arms crossed on her stomach, her skin very pale, though still as beautiful as ever.

“Emma! Please come back to me,” he said, his eyes sparkling with tears. He reached for her hand. She was as cold as ice. “My love, please. I need you.”

Keeping her hand in his, he pressed his head over her chest, downhearted. But whereas he was thinking it was over, he heard a sound. Realizing what it was instantly gave him hope again: though it was very slow, her heart was beating. Killian stood up straight, looking down at her, and quickly realized what it was.

“A sleeping curse,” he whispered.

During this time spent with her, reading books about magic, he had learned about them. He had also read about the counter-curse. His eyes still shining with tears were full of tenderness as he cupped her cheek.

“Please show me your love for me is as true as mine is for you.”

His hand reached for hers again. Slowly, he bent over her and softly pressed his lips on hers, tenderly tugging at her upper lip. Warmth washed over him and he opened his eyes just in time to see the wave of golden light spread across the room and into the distance; a wave accompanied by the sound of a deep breath.

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