I woke up dazed and disorientated. A dark-haired guy with green eyes was looking at me with concern.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
For a few minutes the confusion was genuine. "Um, I think so. Who are you?"
"No one special," he replied evasively.
My thoughts gradually came back to me but I was careful that my face didn't change. I even frowned as if puzzled by his answer. I remembered that he was Timothy, that witches existed and he'd wanted me to drink a forget potion because I was his rose-dove. I hoped he wasn't reading my thoughts but he obviously trusted Lily because his expression didn't change. Even so, I tried to think things a disorientated person might think.
"Where am I?" I asked, truly curious about this detail.
"Outside the pub. It must have been a bit stuffy inside because you fainted. Here's the wine you bought. I paid for you." Had it only been earlier tonight that I had sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of wine?
Timothy handed me a glass. I sat up and took it.
"Thanks," I said gratefully, sipping at the dry yet nice-tasting alcohol. I wished he'd been this nice earlier, but looking closer I saw there was a strain in his eyes that meant he was finding being nice difficult. I felt sorry for him. Everyone deserves to be happy, loved and have at least one person they can depend upon. It just showed how much I took for granted. I vowed to myself that I would always try to see how fortunate I was.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out and answered it.
"Hey, Rani," came a friendly voice. Leanne always called me Rani. "I was just wondering if you wanted a lift to Alex's. I'm going there now."
I suddenly remembered my plans for this evening. "Oh, sure! Thanks! Come and pick me up at The Silver Stag."
"The Silver Stag? I hope you haven't been drinking too much." Leanne's tone was one of mock disapproval.
"You sound like my mother. I've actually only had one drink."
"That's good. I'll see you in about ten minutes."
She hung up and I put my phone away. Timothy was sitting before me, looking as if he didn't know what to do next.
"Um, thanks for your help, whoever you are." I stood up and headed for the door. Timothy stood up quickly.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Um, inside, to give my glass to the bartender..." The strange look I gave him was an accurate reflection of my emotions.
He quickly strode up to me. "I'll do that. You might faint again."
I frowned. "Thanks."
He was very careful not to touch me as he took the glass away from me.
"Bye," he said shortly and disappeared inside.
"Bye," I said to empty air.
Now that I could finally end the pretence, I found I was on the verge of collapsing and breaking down into tears. I was in love with a violent guy, who happened to be a witch so completely ruined the way I viewed the world, and he didn't love me. It wasn't so much the unrequited love that depressed me, though that was devastating too, but rather the way the one I'd fallen for had tried to ignore my feelings for him and shove me away as if I were nothing. If he could have at least accepted that I didn't mean to love him or that there was nothing he could do about my love for him, I'm sure things would have turned out better. But, as it was, he didn't even want to know me. I felt like something someone had carelessly thrown into the rubbish truck, about to be completely destroyed by an unsympathetic, pitiless machine. I was also in despair at the way I'd been able to fall in love with such a dark, heartless monster. What did that say about me? I didn't want to think about it. I was beginning to wish I had drunk a forget potion.
But then, I remembered kissing him. The sheer elation and queer, underlying satisfaction of being in his arms. He was undoubtedly the one my heart belonged to, even if he was trying to deny it. I felt waves of calm at the tranquillity of the memory, until there was some peace in my mind. I had that to cling onto, if nothing else. And there were always my friends. I felt a ghost of the old smile tugging at my lips.
Even if I wouldn't be totally happy until Timothy loved me, even if I would be suffering unbearable pain every second I wasn't near him, I knew there'd be something good in life.
I sighed as I realised my optimism wasn't half as effective as it had used to be. My mind began to be plagued by pessimistic thoughts. What if Timothy never accepted we should be together? What if I'd always be sad and incomplete? I tried weakly to push these thoughts away but I was just too tired.
At Alex's house, I put on my widest grin and really threw myself into the party. I'd picked up the stuff at my house and now I was taking loads of photos while pouring the sweets into bowls for us to eat and just generally having fun. It felt good to be doing something with the two people who'd always be there for me. I had a feeling I could never tell them what happened - I doubted they'd believe me - but at least they could always give me a pat on the back to cheer me up if I was ever upset about it.
When I got back home, I lay on my bed and failed to fight the waves of hopelessness that engulfed me. I had an awful feeling that Timothy wouldn't accept me as his rose-dove. To make matters worse, I also felt like he'd always be a cold person. The future looked bleak either way. Who'd I been fooling when I'd thought everything would be okay if he loved me? I'd stupidly forgotten that he'd still be a cruel monster who emanated a dark aura and constituted a threat in my life. He could hurt me without blinking. If we did have a relationship, what sort of relationship would it be? I thought about the issue of domestic violence and reckoned he'd be an abusive boyfriend who'd be drunk every time he saw me and force me into situations I didn't really want to dwell upon.
‘But his kiss...' a small part of me was thinking. ‘He kissed so gently, so tenderly...'
‘And you really think he'll kiss you like that again?' the nasty part of my mind challenged. ‘He was disgusted at himself. You saw that. He doesn't love you and he never will.'
The following morning, I woke up, yawned, stretched and frowned.