I woke up in my room, to find Peter holding my gently, but rather close to him in what I realised was an embrace. His head was buried in my hair.
"Um, Peter," I said quietly.
"Oh, er, Tilly... Sorry."He promptly let go of me. I sat down on my bed. I beckoned for him to sit beside me.
"I'm sorry," I murmured. I found myself in the mood I had been while we had been watching the blue bird: a mood which involved being in touch with the romantic part of my heart rather than the passionate one. I was the part of myself that Peter had fallen in love with.
"No, don't apologise," he said, far too decent to speak of the pain he was undoubtedly suffering.
"Before Romulus..." I trailed off as Peter put his finger on my lips and looked into my eyes.
I spoke around his finger. "I technically cheated."
Peter shrugged. "That's fine too. The main thing is that you're happy. Nothing else matters."
"Yes, it does though," I protested. "You matter."
"Tilly, I can hardly complain at you. And where would sulking get me? I can still enjoy life, and I do. I like watching the way you smile and your heart reacts to Romulus."
I raised an eyebrow. "And you're honestly not jealous or sad?"
"Only a little. But I get by."
I sighed and murmured "I still remember the beauty of the first kiss."
Peter lifted my chin with his finger. "So do I. And I will cherish the memory forever. But you're happy with Romulus. I wouldn't come in between you two."
He let go of me but I continued to look into his eyes. There was so much sincerity there... I reached out to touch his cheek. "If one tiny thing had been different, I could have been yours."
Peter put his hand over mine and nodded.
We sat there like that in silence for a long time, before Peter sighed and stood up. "I'll see you round, Tilly," he said. "And if you want a really productive self-discovery session, I don't think Romulus will be quite as helpful as he claims."
I grinned. "Yeah, me neither. I'll try and get away."
Peter chuckled as he disappeared.
After showering, dressing and having breakfast with two delightfully unsuspecting parents, I took out my diary and wrote all about the things which had happened the previous day and this morning. Out of habit, I flicked back through pages to see what I'd written before, to reminisce in effect. I came across something which brought a tear to my eye and made me feel lost.
While I wandered in my mind
A beautiful place I was fortunate to find
There ‘tween the thoughts
Sighs great magic of all sorts
I'll try to you describe this scene
This place of which I'd like to dream...
Lilac falls of silk do flow
Where'er the magic roses grow
And where the magic roses are
You can wish upon a star
Lillies float on the home of kings
Who reign over palaces and wear golden rings
Swim fast lest your life should pass you by
And as you swim, I'll try to fly
Birds sing a song,
As gentle as is long
And I fall asleep
Such a soft melody...
These gardens, they take one
And change one, improve one
Change me completely, oh gardens so fine,
As I lie on your lawns and our fates intertwine
Who was I? I certainly would never recite something like this to Romulus: he'd laugh and I'd be embarrassed. But this had been a message from my soul! If I couldn't tell Romulus my story, my song, what right had he to take my love, my heart? Had I offered these things foolishly? Had the sheer romance of love overwhelmed my intelligence? Poetry would always mean something, yet with Romulus it would mean nothing. How could I claim to myself that he was the one who I wanted to share my life with?
Yet how could I deny the effect he had on me...?
I really needed to find myself, I realised. This was no longer just about guilt over Peter, I truly felt abandoned by the constituents of my life.
Peter would help me, I decided. And I would resist Romulus.
I felt a sick sort of apprehension as if I wasn't going to like what I discovered but told myself to stop being such a coward and follow the direction Fate was leading me. I needed to do this. I really needed to do this.
When Romulus appeared just after lunch, I said "Take me straight to Peter."