The boy returned to the manor many times. He brought gifts from the world beyond the gate; things that were sweet to the taste and brightly painted toys. He found her in a word enchanting. More enjoyable than the presents were the games he played. He chased her down the dim halls eliciting squeals of laughter from the grim child; a sound that hadn’t been heard within those walls for some time.
They would lie amidst the grass of the rose garden to watch the clouds or the stars. They imagined what it would be like to live on the moon or what they’d find deep under the ground. He taught the girl how to smile, though such expressions were still infrequent.
At first it appeared strange how the turned up corners of her mouth made her cheeks swell. Yet if he had found her enchanting before she now seemed resplendent. The paleness of her teeth contrasted brilliantly with her dark features. A light shone playfully behind her eyes. The addition of a grin transformed her visage beautifully.
She had never had a friend before but she’d like to think she had one now. She waited by the gate every afternoon in the hope that he would arrive. When he did their day’s adventure would begin. Spending so much time within the grounds of the manor was wearing on the boy though.
He felt the gloom pressing in all around him. It was most intense within the building but still palpable from the garden. Like humidity the air around the manor was wet and heavy threatening to suffocate those who dared to breathe it.
His smile became less frequent, his games less imaginative. He would no longer stay into the late hours of the night to keep the lonely girl company. Rolling in the grass he would pull her into his arms and breathe in the musky scent of fallen leaves that emanated from her hair. The thin plaited chain emerged from the collar of her dress.
He had seen the bulge above her breast where the gem lay hidden but had never mustered the courage to inquire after its purpose. He couldn’t bear how round her eyes grew when she knew that he was leaving so he lowered his eyes to the ground as he walked towards the gate in the evenings.
She could feel the boy pulling away, making the distance between them as vast as her pendant was heavy. This knowledge caused the gem to pull strongly around her neck with its increased weight. The girl was helpless to keep him. She wanted nothing more than to have a companion brave enough to traverse the perimeter of her prison yet she feared he would soon be gone. He would slowly disappear just as the others had.