Darling you'll be okay
It was a dark dawn, the day they reached their goal. The old cabin stood where it always had, and the sight of the vast meadow below it made Annabelle take a deep breath. She was back. As soon as her horse was tied to one of the trees she ran. She ran, and realized that she missed the feeling of a dress dancing around her legs. She missed the feeling of the dewy, soft grass against her bare feet, and the wind that used to swirl around her curls. There was no wind this day, and the tall oaks stood still, like black silhouettes against the pale pink sky.
She ran until she reached the door. She stood there for a while, just breathing, with her heart pounding hard in her chest, before she pressed the door knob down and entered. The door opened with a creaking, hollow sound and Annabelle suddenly remembered that night when she and Alice first arrived. She chased the memory away and entered.
“Killian? Killian!” Annabelle couldn’t help how she screamed his name as she ran over the creaking floorboards. She could barely find his room - she was too full of eagerness and longing. The thought that he might be dead wasn’t even a possibility for Annabelle; she knew he was still alive and she had to find him as soon as possible.
When she finally found herself standing in front of his dark wooden door she didn’t raise her hand to knock, but went straight in. “Killian?” she breathed, her voice trembling with happiness. Her heart fell to the floor when she realized that he wasn’t there. The bed was neatly made up; not a single spot of blood was visible, and the lights on the carved mahogany table were blown out. The room felt strange, almost as if it wasn’t his anymore.
“No...” she whispered, and suddenly her thoughts began to fly in all different kinds of directions. She was too late; he was gone. “This can’t be it”, she whispered, shocked and confused, “this can’t be the end...” her voice still wasn’t more than a whisper. “I won’t let it.”
Then she clenched her jaws and her eyes turned dark. She hadn’t fought, risked her life and nearly died to return to this! She turned her face up towards the roof, towards the sky. Towards heaven, towards God and his angels. “He didn’t deserve this! You should have taken my life too, if you wanted his that bad! He was still mine and you had no right to take him from me!” She screamed, for the anger she felt was stronger and more powerful than her fear and sadness.
“How can you call yourself a God, when you don’t even care! You don’t care if we live or if we die, you don’t care about the wars! And if you care, for some reason, if you exist and see how thousands of soldiers are dying and what the war is doing to those who survive... Then why don’t you stop it? How can you just stand by and watch us die?” Then she lowered her voice to a whisper, and let the cold air carry her words away: “Why?”
Annabelle was just about to go when she saw it; his window. It was open, and when she ran up to look out in the pale morning light, she could see a creature fallen under one of the oaks just where the meadow began. She took a deep breath. Without thinking, she opened the window more and jumped out. She didn’t even feel the pain in her shoulder when she landed on the cold, hard ground.
She could hear his voice even before she reached him. “Killian?” she whispered, and her body ached with happiness. “Thank God you’re alive!” Her heart broke over and over again for each second that passed. He lay with his back on the grass, his arms stretched out so that his body formed a cross.
“Annabelle”, he mumbled weakly, tired, and she sat down on the grass and took his head in her lap. “You came back to me...” She nodded eagerly.
“I promised you I would.” She swallowed, and took one of his hands. She could feel how sickly warm he was, and how weakly he clung to her.
“I've waited for you, Annabelle. I’ve been waiting for you since the first time I saw you”, he whispered, and she smiled.
“I know,” she replied quietly, looking up at the bright colors of the sky above them. “I know.” Then she closed her eyes for a brief second. There were so many things that she wanted to tell him, but they both knew that the time wasn’t enough.
“Thank you,” she whispered simply, quietly, and without hiding any emotion.
“Why?” he replied, and she attempted a smile. She was happy anyway, and the happiness in her overcame her grief.
“Because you’re you,” she continued, still calmly and softly patting his hand, “because you came into my life when I needed someone, and saw me for who I was. You helped me back to life, Killian.” She swallowed. “You saved me. Never forget that.” She paused, for she didn’t want her words to be the last thing he remembered of her. The silence lay over them for a while, like a soft blanket of freedom, and the only sound was the wind rustling through the trees.
“Forgive me,” she whispered then, for a sense of injustice had crept upon her, “because I never saved you.” She could hear how his breathing was deep and heavy, as if his lungs no longer could carry the oxygen.
“I wasn’t meant to be saved, Annabelle, I never was,” he said gently. “We all come to that point, eventually. When you can’t be saved. When... You’re not supposed to be saved.” He took a pause and she could feel how his body was shaking. The fever had taken control of him, and as his blood boiled, his body kept fighting, not knowing that it already was over. His war had ended, once and for all. “You have nothing to apologize for.” He coughed, and Annabelle took a deep breath.
“It’s so beautiful here”, he said then. “A good place to die on.” Annabelle nodded slowly, because she knew that his words were true. The soft colors that painted their surroundings were beautiful, and filled her mind with a strange calm. Then she got an idea.
“Let me sing for you,” she said, and he smiled vaguely. She chose the lullaby she had used to sing to Katherine when the girl was about to sleep. She saw deep into his bared soul and began to sing with a deep, soothing voice.
On the beautiful flower meadow
Far beyond anything you call danger
A little boy is fast asleep
Calmed by the birds sweet singing
He will not wake up
Before the sun takes back the sky
She swallowed, and then continued with the second verse.
Here you are safe
Until the morning sun shines
And pansies come to life
My darling, do not be afraid
For I will always be here
Like the roses and the daisies
Believe me when I say I love you
She saw his eyelids flickering because of his illness and pain.
“Annabelle?” He called out for her, his voice trembling, and she took a harder grip of his pale hand.
“I’m here,” she murmured, and tried to smile. It hurt too much.
“I-” His voice broke. He was too tired, too exhausted. But he wasn’t sad; she knew that. For what was life, if you couldn’t live?
“It's alright. You don’t have to talk anymore,” she whispered, comforting, reassuring.
“I have to,” he murmured, and his eyelids became heavy again. “I love you, Annabelle,” he said, “and I will always be by your side.” He coughed; she understood that every word only took more and more of the little life he had left. “I promise.”
Annabelle took a deep breath and felt tears rise inside, impossible to hold back. For even if he wasn’t sad, she was. No matter how much happier he would be dead, she was still going to miss him. Then she smiled again, a smile full of sadness, but at the same time happiness. She wouldn’t let him see her tears, not now. It was his turn now, and he deserved to die happy.
“I know,” she said, and then felt how the first tears fell against her cheeks; each of them like a waterfall of emotion. No matter how hard she wanted to, she couldn’t hold them back. “I love you too, and I will continue to do so until the day when all of this is over, when we are both resting next to each other and our souls have found peace.” Her free hand sought out the necklace she carried around her neck. “I promise you, Killian.” She heard how he took a deep breath, just as she had done before.
"It doesn't hurt anymore." She looked at him, at his pale face, dark hair, the dried blood under his nails and the scar right above his jawline. A remnant from the war, she remembered. She devoured him with her eyes, painted a picture of this moment that would last forever. No, it didn't hurt anymore. His body was calm and his mind was free. Finally, he was free.
"I'm happy," she said. "I'm sure it's all going to be alright."
"Can you bury me in the meadow?" His voice was weak. "I don't need a cross." In the midst of the burning sadness she felt love power through.
"I'll bury you there," she whispered; comforting, reassuring. "And I'll give you a cross. So I can remember where to find you."
Then she felt how his body suddenly became relaxed. Her words had given him the peace he wanted; now he could die, at last, with a light heart and a free soul. His body was heavy, and his weak breaths were carried away by the late summer winds even before they could reach her ears.
“Don’t ever forget me, Annabelle.” She nodded weakly through her shimmering tears, and placed a soft kiss on his pale forehead. His soft, feathery, ebony colored hair stung her eyes, made her blind.
“Only if you’ll never forget me”, she said quietly, and closed her eyes as if to prevent more tears from escaping.
She never got an answer, and after a while Annabelle began to sing again. She sang all the songs she remembered from her childhood days, and she sang them again, as well as her tears continued to fall.
They sat there together, until the sun stood high in the sky, and streaks of bright blue slowly took over the pink.