We sat there in silence for a while, tears streamed down her face for a bit before they dried up. The sun continued to rise, the sound of birds flying over the waters as they circled. I noticed they didn't have a shadow; I wondered if they normally did in the real world. I doubt I would ever know.
This relationship was complicated and I didn't see much of a way out of it. It wasn't lack of want from her though, I knew the difference between wanting something and being allowed to have it. Even though she was holding herself back there were very good reasons and I had to respect them. Still... it was up to her.
"What is it that you want to do then?" I asked tracing small circles in the sand with my finger.
"I'm not sure. I want to get to know you... spend time with you. I can't promise I can save you. That would mean being unfaithful to Ian and I just-" The words caught in her throat, painful and hard to say.
They were equally hard to swallow. Cheat on your husband and let me live sounded like a pretty good deal- not that I knew the first thing about doing something so intimate. "We can spend time together. I'd like that." I admitted.
It was true after all. If I was going to die at least I could enjoy my time spent with someone who was supposed to be my fated one. I gave her a small smile, and she smiled back at me crookedly as if learning to smile all over again- unsure.
So it began. We met at the beach every morning, then after three days passed, she began to join me in the library in the afternoons. Meal times she either wasn't there or was quiet and cool towards me while Ian and I chatted. She also didn't speak much to Ian during meal times. In the early mornings I went to the beach came back for breakfast- I still expected the vines to grow and the pain to come back full force each time the sun rose but they never did.
The curse wasn't broken only delayed as it pulsed on my skin, still heavy on my rib cage making it difficult to breathe. It was mostly forgotten though by the time Rose joined me in the library. We read here and there but mostly we spoke about our childhoods and our lives up until now. Then I would leave once Ian knocked on the door for lunch. Typically after lunch I would wander the painting until dinner- often finding faded spots, sometimes walking into a blank white wall that was solid. Once I found a beautiful waterfall with a tree surrounded by water- it's willow branches hiding a small little cove where I found Rose sleeping as the frogs croaked and the crickets sang.
I sat and watched her for a while- before I ran back to the house and found a sketch pad. By the time I got about half way sketching her though she caught me and rolled her eyes at me. Then after a week- I started meeting her there for spell practice with paints. We usually moved to one of the blank areas away from everything else since it was quite messy.
"Tell me about your childhood." Rose asked one day as we lay next to the river as she painted in some koi fish. "Every time the subject comes up I feel like you avoid it. I've told you about mine."
I shrugged as I watched her mix the paint, collecting more flowers for the crown I was making to put on her head. "Not much to tell. My parents died when I was little and the covens adopted me."
"How did they die though? You never talk about them."
I frowned fiddling with one of the blossoms. "Well my mom was one of the best witches, a lot of people though she might be the next high priestess of the Eastern Covens. She hid her pregnancy for a really long time, until her water broke after a big spell they did. Then I was born. She told them there wasn't a father. Truth was she was seeing a regular joe like Ian, a history teacher at the collage. Not really a big deal these days except that she was one of the more powerful witches. They died in a car crash when I was three."
"That's terrible." She whispered pausing from her painting to look at me her eyes full of sorrow.
I could tell she didn't need to ask- I could see it in her eyes. She like I assumed the coven had killed them. Even though it wasn't taboo anymore, it still was frowned upon. Someone clearly had a grudge against her for not keeping a strong bloodline pure.
"After that I was picked on for being weak. Then the whole mess with the spell. I didn't really have many friends. Kind of ruined most of them without meaning to from just being what I am."
"Well I'm not going anywhere." Rose said firmly as she swirled some more orange into her brush. I smiled shaking my head a bit as I weaved more flowers together.
After a month I was sitting on the beach smiling as I heard her approach. Rose was all smiles sporting red short coveralls and a giant hat shading her face. We hadn't kissed since that first day- but the pure happiness I saw on her face made me want to pull her close and do exactly that. The longer I was here the more I noticed the wrinkles on my face fading, the less sleep she needed and the happier she seemed to be.
Reality always had to come crashing back down though.
It started slow. A small burning in my chest that was uncomfortable and I attempted to rub away as Rose sat down next to me on the giant blue blanket I had laid out. As soon as she sat down it began to make me furrow my brows.
"Are you ok Raven? You look upset."
"Y-yeah I'm fine." I said rubbing the spot on my chest, then I felt it. Each heart beat seemed to begin feeding the pain; feeding the vines on my body waking them.
"Are you sure you look like you're in a lot of pa-" the words on her lips died as I felt the pain really start to kick in. Realization dawned on her. "Raven stay with me, breathe."
It felt like the vines where trying to shred every tendon and artery as it clutched onto me, slowly creeping, scraping. As if it were shredding my skin and organs as it moved. Unlike before this wasn't a brief pain. This was long and agonizing.
My vision faded in and out with each heart beat, trying to keep my breathing even. "Ian!" I heard Rose scream desperately as she held my hands.
God it hurt. Everything hurt. Why wasn't it stopping? Was this the end?
Some where I knew I passed out from the pain, only to wake up thrashing with soft sheets on my body, sweat all over my body. I felt a small prick- tiny and minuscule in comparison to the endless torture that riddled my body. I don't know how long it continued.