Sapphire was definitely beautiful and brave and all of those good things. I suppose much of it came with being a spoilt fifteen-year-old girl with twelve older brothers. She was adept at most things that even boys twice her age weren’t good at. She could scale any wall in their town in less than ten minutes, for instance. She could make a stone skip in the river for as long as she wished. She could shoot an arrow bang on target even from a mile away.
She was also a bit of an idiot, most of the time. She never knew when to shut up or run away. She always, always got caught stealing. She was clumsy and when she wasn’t climbing something, her fingers were made of butter. Her lies were the most obvious of them all. But the only thing about herself that she would come to regret was that she never did learn the art of being stealthy.
Immediately after she saw the stranger go into his room, Sapphire made arguably the most idiotic decision of her life.
She decided to spy on him.
She went about it systematically. She sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night. She climbed into the stranger’s room from the window on the outside. She landed with a soft thump. She cursed under her breath, very, very softly, before she tiptoed behind the curtain. She made sure the hem of her night dress was safely behind the curtain. She then went about looking for a nice enough spot to peek out of.
She gasped at what she saw.
Around what should have been the body of an old man sleeping, there was swirling blue. There were more colours at the edges of the blue, radiant and bright. Something that seemed to her like dense fog hung around the blue, as if protecting it. All of this was in constant movement in no particular direction, like leaves falling from a tree on a windy afternoon.
At all of this, Sapphire gasped very, very loudly.
In a flash, the blue congealed into what she understood as the stranger in their house. He was looking in her direction. And he was very, very angry.
“Come out of there before I kill you,” he snarled.
She stepped out from behind the curtain, and her skin started to tingle. She suddenly felt extremely out of her depth. It was as if this man in front of her wasn’t a man at all, but something else entirely. Something she definitely didn’t understand, or even wanted to understand. There was a terrible rage on his face. She was shivering and her knees were shaking at the sight of it.
“You are mine,” he said in a voice so low, it was a wonder she could even hear it. “I will come for you in a year and a day when the flowers bloom.” His mouth wasn’t even moving, so how could she hear him at all? Why was there a blue around her, and why couldn’t she move?
“I will come for you in the Spring” he said, and then, he disappeared into the blue.
Fate is rattling dice in his hands, amused at what is happening.
The Moon wasn’t sure what to make of this.
The Wind finally had a plan.
She dreamt that night.
She dreamt she was riding the clouds. She dreamt she was the scent of the meadows. She dreamt she was bringing lust to lovers, a muse to poets, hope to the weary. She dreamt she was the wetness of the earth; she was mating trees with trees, she was the bitterness of fruit and the freshness of dew. She dreamt she was bringing life.
She dreamt she was free, in a way that she had never known.
She dreamt she was bound, in a way that she had never sought.
When she woke, she remembered only music. She knew she had a beautiful dream – she remembered pretty women dancing with flowers in their hair.
She woke with a song.