An Eternity with You
(Part Second of Nathaniel's Tale)
By Jenny Dickinson
The dark stone walls of the ruined castle were quite overgrown with ivy and thorny roses when spring came about. He stood upon the battlements, looking out to the woods that had thinned over the years to let small glimpses of the city beyond through.
Things had changed, years had passed, and still he was alive, untouched by time itself. Oh, he was a bit dusty and threadbare were his once fine clothes, but he had not aged a single moment since he awoke so many, many years ago.
He turned, to cast misty green eyes upon her grave, six feet under the garden's lush plot. There was no marker, nor did there need to be one. The wildflowers that had taken over the Garden blanketed the soft earth of her resting place... no other place in the garden did anything grow so well. It was as fitting a marker for her as any.
He had slept away a few sets of years, marking the time by the changes to the city about him. Torches gave way to gaslights, and gaslights gave way to electric. Cars were invented, as were trains and planes. Everything around him was altered, strange, and unknown. Nathaniel felt more alone than ever, he was afraid to sleep again, afraid that the city would tear down the last veils of forest and then the castle... and his love's grave.
Be damned forever if he was going to allow such desecration.
The beasts he could once talk to had become tainted by the world beyond the wood, and no longer talked with him. The birds still sang, but the songs were not those he once knew. The flowers still bloomed and grew, but they were not the plants and colors he remembered. Magic seemed to be a dying thing, and he was a silent companion to the aging and helpful friend as it took its last few wavering steps.
He stepped outside the walls for the first time in years, startling a survey group placing stakes and looking around the area. They made noises and speech he did not know, but the sounds were familiar. Their voices held none of the magic that those in the castle long ago had held within themselves. Without that magical tone, he could not understand them.
They pointed to a sign he could not read, and tried to manhandle him away from the castle. Away from his princess. Away from all he had ever known. He tried, by pointing, to let them know he lived here, that he could not, would not, leave this place. He growled when they tried to further drag him away, and he bristled with magic, and was terrifying. The men, seeing only some monster of old among them, panicked and ran. Nathaniel sighed, uprooted the sign, throwing it far into the woods, and returned to his castle. He did not expect the crew, and other men to come back a day later.
A woman stood with them, arguing. He stepped out of the castle, and edged closer to her. She had the same dark curly hair, and same blue eyes as his princess. She dressed strangely, in tight trews, and a man's shirt... unseemly for a lady. But, she looked very like the princess reborn. He crept closer, listening and watching, thinking such things in his mind as he hadn't though in years. Soon, he came nearly face to face with her, a few scrubby bushes separating them from one another. And he heard her speak. And understood. She spoke with magic... and these men listened.
"You CAN'T just go tearing up this place to build housing! It's a historical landmark!"
"Look, our boss gave us the orders to mark the survey lines, so the work crews can be in here in four days to destroy this ramshackle ruins, and start building those houses. Orders are orders. Sorry miss," said the man in the work clothing, though Nathaniel could make no sense of it.
"Look, give me those four days to find a reason WHY you can't tear the place down, that's all I ask. Please," she entreated.
"You've got yer four days. Just be wary of the devil that lives about here. 'Tis a dangerous cursed beast."
Nathaniel seethed in anger. They were going to tear the castle down, dig up the body of his beloved, or worse yet, build a HOUSE on her! Furious, he stepped out of the brush, snarling and drawing up the magic. The Men screamed like small children, and scattered. The woman turned, looking at him, but stood firm her ground. They locked eyes, and in that instant, he calmed, and she spoke.
"I know you... I don't know how... but I know you."
He blinked, and looked at her.
"M'lady? I too, feel as if I know you. You are verily like the princess I knew so long ago."
"I've read the history of Corrington castle, sir. The princess died with her lover, the marriage of the young Prince Henry annulled, and he later became king of England... which is where you are."
"Henry... I did not like him, he had a greedy eye and a cruel intellect. Princess Elonia was well in her rights to so refuse him. But her father did not allow it. I was exiled from the castle with her nanny, and she was forced to engage Henry. I snuck back in to help her escape, but the day I was to do so, she'd already been forced to wed him in secret. The conditions of the magic that made me were that I would die on her wedding night if I were not her husband. Elonia threw herself over the bridge to drowned, and I saved her, not knowing that she was already wed, and my life to end. But she told me the sad tale, and we agreed to perish together. But, Henry annulled the wedlock there on the bridge, and I, immortal until I wed my beloved, did not die." He sighed, and looked at her again, they had long since walked within the castle walls, and stood next to the fair princess's grave. "When I pulled us from the river, the castle was empty. I buried her here, at our very feet, and have stayed here in this place since. Things outside changed, and the magic here is dying. I know not what the year may be, nor do I know why you look so like Elonia."
The young lady spoke.
"I am an archaeologist, my name is Fern, the year is two thousand and two. Like you, I know the magic tongue, like you, I am locked within and without time. Where I came from originally, was beyond the veil. I am faery, and you belong there as much as she did. When the king left, he remarried, and had another daughter. To keep her from befalling the same fate as Elonia, the king sent the child to faery, to only come to the mortal world when she was of age to wed. His wife was an elf... so the child was blessed with immortality and magic. In faery, time has no meaning, and so it was many, many centuries before the child could come to earth again. And she was handed over to a set of foster English parents, went to school, later to become a historian. I am Elonia's sister."
Nathaniel looked shocked. It had all sunk in at last. He had been meant to be with Elonia, but due to Henry's treachery, he was forever blessed with all the virtues of elven kind. But cursed with eternal loneliness.
"But... but how did you find me?" and... "We cannot let them take the castle down. Her grave must be unspoiled. Forever." Fern nodded.
"I am a historian for the mortals, as well as faery. My job for the elven kind is to reclaim lost places of power, returning them to faery. This castle was never meant to be held by humans, the tragedy you and Elonia suffered was never meant to pass. This castle was supposed to fade into faery when man left it, but because you were made of man and faery, the castle stayed. now, if you come with me, it can return there once more. Otherwise, there will be naught here in a year than houses and cars and driveways and what remained of the great forest that once stood this ground."
Nathaniel nodded, he was sad to lose Elonia, and his home, but the magic would be destroyed if he did not let it go. Fern turned to the castle, and Nathaniel watched as like a misty summer dream, the castle vanished.
Nathaniel looked sad.
"But, where will I go? What am I to do now, in such a strange new world?" Fern smiled, and hugged him close. So forward for a woman of his times. She was soft, and warm, and smelt so very like his beloved.
"I cannot love you, your heart belongs to my sister, but I do offer you friendship, and teachings. If you wish it, I can send you to faery... or you can stay here, with me, and help save what magic is left to save in this world."
Nathaniel looked at the empty plain his home once stood upon, then into Fern's bright blue eyes. His heart leapt a beat, and he smiled.
"I will learn, and stay with you, lady Fern. God knows the magic needs all the help it can get. I know I can use the help. I've been alone so long, it's nice to spend an eternity with you, even if not in love."
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
An Eternity with You ©2002 by Jenny Dickinson
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