We stopped outside a cottage which seemed to serve as a shop as well. Inside, there were lots of pendants with stones similar to the one Timothy owned. When he'd stopped the car, he'd murmured, "Release the girl from the spell, return her thoughts and all be well." He'd then pocketed the stone and gazed searchingly into my eyes.
"What happened?" I'd asked, the last hour or so a mass of confusion in my mind. Images were whirling in my mind that I couldn't put together. When they did settle, I still couldn't understand.
"Never mind. Now, promise you won't run away. We're in the middle of nowhere and if you run away, I won't be able to take you home. I don't really want the police to charge me for abduction either."
I'd snorted. "Well, it's a bit late for that, isn't it?"
I'd looked around and sighed. "But I do have no clue where I am so I'll stick with you for the time being."
"Good. And if you try to ring anyone, I'll use the sapphire again. Understand?" Oh, so that's what the stone had been.
Grudgingly I'd nodded. I'd followed him out of the car.
Inside, a girl with long blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes stood up and smiled at Timothy. The smile was very warm. I felt a sudden pang of... jealousy? I shoved it away, wondering what was wrong with me.
"Hey, Lily," Timothy greeted. "I, uh, need your help with something."
"Sure," she answered in a soft, sweet voice that reminded me of honey. "Who's the girl?" She looked at me with a slightly puzzled expression.
"That's the thing. She's my ... She appears to be..."
"Just say it," Lily said gently.
Timothy looked suddenly exhausted. "She's my rose-dove, Lily. And I really don't want one."
Lily frowned deeper. "Your rose-dove? But, you ... you were always repulsed by the idea of a rose-dove. Too soppy a concept for your liking, you said."
"I didn't want this, Lily! That's why I'm here. I want you to undo whatever spell causes someone to be a rose-dove."
I couldn't stand it any longer.
"Will someone please tell me what a rose-dove is?!"
"It doesn't matter," Timothy answered. "Lily can give you a good ‘forget' potion when she's undone the rose-dove spell, so you don't even remember me. Then you can live your life in blissful oblivion."
The deep part of me inside was agonised. For some reason, I didn't want to forget Timothy, though I was sure it was for the best. Who wants to remember a guy who shoves you against a wall then does weird things to your mind with a sapphire?
Lily's brow furrowed. "I, um, really wish I could help you, Timothy, but the thing about rose-doves is that... they're not the result of a spell. She's your rose-dove by nature, the way it's your nature to like and dislike things."
"WHAT?!" Timothy exploded. "You're telling me there's no way you can get rid of this thing?!"
Lily shrank back. "Not without killing her, no. And you'd still be her kingfisher, so part of you would die if you even did that."
"Kill me? You're going to kill me?" I suddenly felt terrified. All I could think was ‘I have to leave this place'.
I ran for the door but Timothy grabbed me. Open space again and he was shouting in my mind ‘You IDIOT! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE MY ROSE-DOVE?! I HATE YOU, YOU...'
But he never finished his sentence, because suddenly he was kissing me. His arms wound tightly around my waist. His thoughts had calmed down and now he was in wonder. ‘My rose-dove... I've got a rose-dove...'
I was thinking ‘What is a rose-dove?' I didn't notice I was kissing him back.
He answered me this time. ‘The love of a witch's life.'
A witch. That's what I am. That's what Lily is. Wait, what am I doing?!
He shoved me away, violently. "I don't love you," he snarled.
I was prepared to tell him I didn't love him either, when I suddenly realised I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure of anything now.
"If there's nothing we can do, then we'll just give her a forget potion and try and ignore her." He was talking to Lily, I realised.
Lily nodded. "Yup. We can do that. How strong?"
"Strong. With any luck, she might even forget her feelings for me."
"No, she'll always have those, I'm afraid."
"What?!" I cried. I suddenly realised I was sure about something. I loved him. It was a terrifying revelation and it scared me that I was having these deep emotions towards a violent, insane guy who thought he was a witch but I actually wanted to be with him. For the rest of my life.
"You can't just make me forget about you! I love you."
Timothy groaned. "Oh, you fool! Well that's just tough, isn't it?"
He grabbed my arm and pulled me down to sit on a chair. The contact was brief. He pulled out a rope from a pocket and began binding me to the chair.
"No! Please! Stop! I won't tell anyone! Please! I can't forget you!!"
"I can forget you." Timothy looked heartless and cruel.
"Don't do this to me!!" I started to cry. "Please! Anything but this... I suddenly found some foreign knowledge in my mind. It must have been from contact with Timothy's mind. "Rose-doves and kingfishers can't be parted!!"
Timothy was looking at Lily, ignoring my protests. "Do you need some help with the potion?"
"Oh, um, yes please. Could you get me some plants from outside? A lot if you want a strong potion. Just grass will do."
Timothy nodded, walking out.
Lily gestured for me to be quiet. "Shh. It's okay. I won't make you forget."
I stopped crying. "You won't?"
Lily nodded. "He's making a bad decision."
"Why is he so set against me being his rose-dove?"
"He's really against the prospect of depending on someone else and having affections for people. He leads an independent, loveless life. It's not his fault really. His parents abandoned him as a child. The witch gene skips a generation (unless both parents are witches) and all of his grandparents were dead, so no one could explain why he was psychic."
"Abandoned?" I felt a surge of pity for Timothy. What would that be like? To feel alone and unloved in the world?
Lily nodded. "So, I'm going to let him realise that he can't escape this for himself. I'll give you a sleep potion and then when you wake up, you have to act as if you don't know anything about him. Don't go looking for him, don't approach him if you ever see him, just ignore him and pretend he doesn't exist. Otherwise, he'll just bring you straight back here and make the potion from one of my potion books. Do you understand?"
I nodded weakly. "Won't I miss him though?"
Lily sighed. "The pain will be ... unbearable. Rose-doves and kingfishers are literally two halves of one heart. You'll feel incomplete and depressed. You'll just have to hope he sees the light before your heart breaks."
I began to cry again. Lily came towards me and put her arms around me. It felt good to have someone who cared about me in this strange place.
"Witches are really real?" I asked, no longer trusting the evidence of the world around me. The world around me had previously told me that magic and such things didn't exist.
Lily nodded, withdrawing from me. "Timothy's coming back so I can't really tell you anything more and it's for the best if you never set foot in this building again, but yes, witches are real. Now, when he comes in, just play along. Pretend you understand why you have to forget him."
I nodded. "Thank you, Lily. I'm sorry I can't get to know you better. I'm sure we would have been great friends."
"Maybe we will be, one day."
Timothy entered, looking grim but satisfied. I tried to look brave as Lily brought out a cauldron and Timothy dumped in handfuls of grass and weeds.
He glanced over at me. "You're quiet," he observed.
I nodded. I took a deep breath and said, "I've seen that what you're doing is only good for me. I don't understand the world you've deceived yourself into believing exists and anyway, you're cruel and violent. I'll be better off without someone like you in my life." My words tore at my heart, but I had to ignore the pain I was putting myself through.
Timothy nodded. "I'm glad you see it from my point of view now. I never wanted a rose-dove and my life would take a real turn for the worse if I let myself feel that way about someone."
I wanted to tell him that it wasn't bad to feel that way about someone, that it was good to let someone in, but, of course, he wouldn't have understood.
I nodded, pretending to agree. "You lead your life, and I'll lead mine."
Lily gave me a tentative smile as she handed me a mug, out of which the scent of lavender was wafting. Even the smell was making me drowsy. I drank it slowly, handed Lily the mug and drifted gently into a dreamless sleep.