Alyssa's sobs shook her, trembling violently as he pulled her closer to him as he attempted to reassure her, to discover what bothered her so.

Both he was too kind, and too wretched. Her mind struggled, wrestling with the various thoughts and contemplations, fears and uncertainty--worst of all it felt as if he had betrayed the trust she had put so recently into him, the love she had invested so heavily in him. She had put her heart in his hands with all of her trust and expected him to understand her.

But it seemed he did not; his confusion and distress only furthered her own mental agony. She wondered if she was blind, as if her suspicions all along of his reckless bending of her soul by his command for his own purpose was true. She had begun to think he loved her, believing all along his intentions were good. That he could see into her, to know her in and out, and help, protect, her, steer her towards right and away from wrong and pain. Was that what Guardian Spirits were for? Was this some selfish desire of his, forgetting about the consequences that would happen as a result for the other half?

Yet she could not fathom that he would do anything to purposefully hurt her--though from the very start he appeared to do the opposite, to only inflict pain instead of shield her from it. Oh, she loved him, she did. More then anything in the world. She wanted very simply to be his, to spend her days without the pain and only with joy in his presence.

She was scared. He loved her, but did not understand as she had thought. He was not all-knowing. She could not put all of her trust in him, as he drew her into the frightening unknown. Fydul's words and the images, the feelings, he cast upon her rang true, and hung as an ominous warning.

Or was the old fool wrong? Could there be some ulterior motive for preventing the two's connection? But what could it be? It certainly couldn't be related to her, since she had never met the man before. If there was one, it would be against Horatio...but why?

These thoughts in particular made her realize how little she knew of the strange figure she called her courtier, the keeper of her heart, or, rather, what soon was to  be the keeper of her soul, her very being. Yet, he was not Human; he did not carry a physical past similar to that of a Human, but....she did not understand him. While at least he knew somewhat who she was, she had the least idea who he was, purely caught under the enchantment of exhilarating, passionate, unconditional, and complete love in which he offered.

She broke away slightly from his grasp on her, his arms still lingering about her. He looked down into her reddened face, stained with the trails of tears shining silver in the mythical moonlight. And she looked up into his eyes, the moonrays catching in his hair, accenting the bend of his nose, the form of his brow, the fullness of his lips; making his searing, passionate, considerate eyes even more brilliant, casting him in the most romantic, fantastic light.  It only made her heart hurt more.

"What is wrong?" he murmured, repeating for a second time, the marvelous trill of his, currently caring, gentle, voice mixing with the soft coo in which he whispered. An involuntary shiver of delight raced up and down her spine as he took his fingers and brushed back a wild, straying hair, then moving his thumb so that he tossed away the teardrops lingering on her cheek.

"Everything," she whispered, breathless as she continued to gaze into his eyes, melting helplessly under his touch. "Everything is wrong--yet everything is right. My heart is at war with itself over you, yet every bit of it.....wants you."

The expression in his eyes intensified, that burning light flickering once more which had so captured her. Truly thinking of it, every of his expressions charmed Alyssa. There was no running away from his captivating glance, his simply awestriking presence.

"What makes you pause when you so desire it?" he prodded softly, yet the tone in which he spoke rendered her nearly senseless, so...incredibly rich. Without hardly saying anything, it felt as if he was convincing her to take the next step without even trying, or willfully doing it himself.

"It is unfair," Alyssa said weakly, her former outrage, fright being lost as she continually stared into those eyes, that face. "You are too amazing to resist. How will I ever compete?"

He smiled mildly, holding her cheek in his palm as he had done before. "I? I am ever lovestruck by you."

Alyssa moved forward, stepping further into his embrace. She placed a kiss upon him, in return gently moving his lips against hers. She so longed to toss away all her fears, all her sensibility, her fright, her very thoughts--her pesky, stupid thoughts. She closed her eyes, willfully losing herself in the beautiful serenity, the searing passion, in which the gesture provided, only wishing for more.  She deepened the kiss, pouring all of the emotion--the love, the hate, the fear, the distress--into it.

Rainbow colors flashed before my eyes, though they brushed by me as if I was flying very quickly. Still I felt the physical contact between us strong, perhaps even stronger now as I continued in this place, everything else appearing to move very slowly while I moved so fast I could barely comprehend.

Metallic lights beamed ahead, radiating like sun and moon. They called for me, they made my heart ache for them, like a wealthy woman for her jewels....

.....Horatio tore me from his lips, leaving me dangling in his grasp as if in a slumber. "Alyssa! No, wait!" He cried, shaking me. It was too late....

I reached for them. "No, Alyssa-!" Horatio's voice echoed. But it was already a finger's reach away, and there was no stopping. I wanted it so badly, and it was so easily to be mine, all the other barriers seemed to be broken away for me!

I was like a young child to fire, sticking my hand in the flame.

And it burned. It seared, it hurt. Worse pain than I would ever know.

I tried to retract, yet it felt like I was being sucked further and further in...something grabbed me and seemingly tossed me away....

I was sprawled across the ground, held in his arms, my body shaking uncontrollably. Pain, pain, pain! Though I had been torn from the fire, I still felt its burn. My mind slipped in and out of blackness, my insides feeling as if they were being shattered like glass. I could not escape the pain, I convulsed on the ground as Horatio still clung to me, calling my name though I could not hear him. I was on fire, and the flames were eating me alive....

And suddenly.....something....held me under water? I struggled for a moment, squirming, flailing...yet it was for ntohing...and I realized....cool. Slowly, the fire, the agony began to drain from me...wash away...yet my lungs began to strain, my head swirl....

With one sharp thrust I was pulled from the water and tossed roughly upon the land, shivering, trembling in shock, and coughing up gulps of water. "Fydul! Do not be so rough!" I heard the snarl of Horatio as I hid my face against the ground. "You have no business here--go away!"

"I saved her, idiot," was the equally forceful retort. "While you almost killed her."

Before the conversation could go further, I attempted to push myself up. "Hor-Horatio?" I murmured, my voice hoarse and throat so tight as to be barely able to speak.

"Oh Alyssa, my love," he fell to his knees, pulling me close to him. I welcomed the warmth, the safety, weakly resting my wet head against his chest, feeling unable to do much else. He turned his gaze back to Fydul, his voice strong and face formed into the frightening, threatening expression of a lion which scared me. "I said, go away. You are not needed here."

"You naive fool. You haven't the least idea to transfer her soul to yours without killing her, especially when she is so unknowing herself." he replied, unfazed by Horatio.

"I made a mistake....I let down my guard too easily, I did not anticipate her...quickness, and I was unable to protect her as needed. I will in the next attempt."

"Next attempt?" I breathed. "I will...have to do that again?"

"It was one mistake too many," frowned Fydul, turning his eyes to me briefly. "I am telling you. It is a warning you will heed, and, if you do not, Alyssa will be the one to feel the resulting consequence. In fact, if you do not heed it, I shall take her away from you."

"What?!" Horatio cried, tightening his hold on me. "You can't do that!"

"If it means her safety, I will. And you know I can--you know the rules. As a Guardian, you could not do such a thing as risk her life. You're already pressing the limit. You could be punished. And as I witness, I would be happy to see it through and have her protected." 




The End

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